August 23, 1912
St. Landry Parish, Louisiana
4-year-old Bobby Dunbar disappears during a trip, later sparking a mystery solved nearly 100 years later

Bobby’s family had been on a fishing trip when the boy disappeared. His parents frantically looked for him before calling police when their own search turned up nothing. Authorities dissected alligators in hopes of finding Bobby’s body, and used dynamite to help nudge any corpses to the surface, but Bobby’s body was not found.

Eight months later, police found a boy in Mississippi matching Bobby’s description. The boy was in the care of William Cantwell Walters who claimed the child was Charles Bruce Anderson, the illegitimate son of his brother and a woman who had worked for the Walters family named Julia Anderson. Walters claimed — and the claim was later verified by Anderson — that Anderson had left Bruce in the care of Walters while she went on a trip. By the time she returned, Walters had been arrested for kidnapping and Bruce was living with the Dunbars.

When Anderson demanded her son’s return, police asked her to pick him from a lineup, which she was unable to do. Despite members of the community testifying they had seen Bruce with the Walters family and Anderson prior to Bobby’s disappearance, Walters was convicted of kidnapping and Bobby/Bruce remained with the Dunbars.

Walters was released after two years in prison, following an appeal. He never stopped proclaiming his innocence. Anderson later married and had seven children, though she often talked of her lost son. The child raised as Bobby Dunbar married, had four children, and died in 1966. In 2004, one of Bobby’s children, Bob Dunbar Jr., and one of his cousins, Alonzo Dunbar, consented to a DNA test. They were found to not be blood relatives, proving “Bobby Dunbar” was in fact Bruce Anderson. The fate of the real Bobby Dunbar remains unknown.

Mrs. Dunbar with Bruce Anderson

Other crime stories from today:
1305: The execution of William Wallace (2017)
1931: Unusual Suicide Device (graphic)(2017)
1944: Airplane crash kills 61 including children (2017)

Horror-related birthdays and release dates:

Today in Horror History: August 23

4 thoughts on “4-year-old disappears, “found” in another state

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