We have found the ultimate mystery to share with you. Its setting is the deep south at the turn of the 20th century. The cast are two families that each lay claim to a young boy. The alligators help weave a tale so Faulkneresque that you could be forgiven for believing it to be made up, but this really happened, once upon a time…
A century has past and still a dark shroud of mystery has hung over the Dunbar family of Opelousas, Louisiana. On August 23, 1912, four year old Bobby Dunbar disappeared from a family picnic at Lake Swayze, some twenty five miles from town. When his parents, Percy and Lessie, returned with lunch to the family camp, they discovered the boy gone without a trace.
Soon, the entire community set out in a massive manhunt for the young boy. The shores of the lake were picked over with a fine toothed comb, and even several alligators were dissected to see if the child had been eaten, but all was for nought. The only evidence of any kind was a mysterious set of footprints leading to a nearby railroad track.
Police began to theorize that the boy was kidnapped, and before long, the town was abuzz in rumors of a strange hobo.
A year later, a report of a strange man travelling through Mississippi made its way back to Opelousas. The story held that the man was travelling in a covered wagon with a boy that fit little Bobby Dunbar’s general description.
Soon, Mississippi authorities detained one William Walters, who claimed that his youthful travelling companion was named Charles Bruce Anderson and was the son of a servant in Walters’ family, Julia Anderson. He claimed that Anderson had left the boy in his care while she travelled with the family.
Police refused to buy the story, and soon the Dunbars arrived to be reunited with their long lost son.
But maybe not…
When they were presented with the five year old boy, he began to cry, and even Lessie Dunbar was not sure he was Bobby. Still, the next day, she claimed to have bathed him and had seen birthmarks and scars that she knew belonged to her missing son.
Walters proclaimed his innocence, and soon Ms. Anderson arrived to claim her son. Authorities claimed she was unable to pick the child out of a lineup and that her story did not check out. It was discovered that Julia Anderson was the unwed mother of three children, further undermining her credibility.
She testified at Walters’ trial, again claiming the boy was indeed hers and not the Dunbars. But in the end it was futile. William Walters was found guilty of kidnapping and sentenced to life in prison. Anderson’s claim to the child was rejected, and The Dunbars believed their son had been returned to them.
Years passed and the Dunbar family moved on. Bobby grew up, married, had a family, and died in 1966. Julia Anderson finally settled down and started a family herself but held to her claim that Bobby Dunbar was really her son, Charles Bruce Anderson until she passed away.
Walters stood by his claim of innocence until his death in the 1930’s
Dunbar’s granddaughter, Margaret Cutright, was intrigued by the family story, and began to research the past. Digging in places that some thought she ought not venture, Cutright spoke with members of the Anderson family, and in 2004 agreed to have her father Bobby Dunbar Jr. to take a DNA test alongside his cousin.
The results shook three families to the core. Bobby Jr. was of no relation to his cousin, a confirmed Dunbar. Further, his results did match with the Anderson family, thus vindicating Julia Anderson, and poor William Walters, who died a criminal.
The real Bobby Dunbar was never heard from again, and now, the suspicion once again falls to the alligators of Lake Swayze, Louisiana.
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