• Shaun Baines

The Bobby Dunbar Case


In 1912, the Dunbar family took a camping trip to Swayze Lake, Louisiana. They'd enjoyed a pleasant morning fishing and decided to pic-nic further along the shoreline. The parents – Lessie and Percy Dunbar – led the way, but when they arrived at their spot, they discovered their four year old son – Bobby – was not with them.


What followed was a frantic search, but all that was found were little Bobby's footprints in the sand and the trail went cold.


It wasn't until eight months later, the police found a boy matching Bobby's description. He was travelling with a tinker called William Walters. The boy responded to his name and knew enough details of Bobby's life for the police to believe they had found the missing child.

But Walters disagreed. He stated the boy was called Bruce Anderson. He was caring for Bruce while his mother – Julia – got her life back on track.


The police called Mr and Mrs Dunbar to identify their child. Overwhelmed with emotion, they made a positive identification and Walters was arrested for kidnapping while Bobby was returned to his parents.


Julia Anderson always maintained that Bobby was actually Bruce and belonged to her.


Bobby grew up and had a family of his own. He related the story of his kidnapping to the media and recalled the day Walters had kidnapped him.


After Bobby's death in 1966, speculation about his true identity continued until Bobby's son – Robert – consented to a DNA test, as did his cousin Alfonso.


The results were remarkable. The DNA test should have proved they were first cousins, but Robert and Alfonso discovered they were not related.

Bobby was not Bobby after all.

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