In August 1912, the disappearance of Bobby Dunbar swept national headlines. The four-year-old had been on a fishing trip with his parents at Swayze Lake in Louisiana when he vanished.

Authorities assumed the boy had been kidnapped and set out on a nationwide manhunt. Eight months later, police encountered a man named William Walters traveling with a young boy in Mississippi. Walters called him “Bruce.”

It was unusual to see a small child traveling alone with a man, and no one was satisfied with the explanation that he was the son of an employee, Julie Anderson. Walters was taken into custody and the Dunbars asked to come and identify their son.

There’s no denying that Bobby Dunbar (left) and the boy who was found, Bruce (right), look alike, but neither the Dunbars nor Anderson could positively identify the child as their son. After several days of uncertainty, the Dunbars announced that it was indeed their child. The case was closed.

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Many thought the trial had been unfair. Julie Anderson was an unwed mother who worked as a field hand and couldn’t afford a lawyer. The court easily sided with the Dunbars, who took the boy home and raised him as their son, Bobby.

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