Only DNA could solve a mystery almost a century old. DNA can solve old myteries in your family also.
KINSTON, N.C. -- When Bobby Dunbar vanished into the coffee- colored Louisiana swamps nine decades ago, the search was unrelenting.
Hundreds of volunteers slogged through the murky waters around Swayze Lake looking for some trace of the barefoot, blue-eyed 4-year- old. Searchers sliced open the bellies of alligators and dynamited the lake, thinking the blasts might dislodge the child's corpse.
Then, eight months later, police announced they had found little Bobby in the company of a wayward tinker from North Carolina. The man protested -- no, he said, this was his brother's illegitimate child.
A jury convicted him of kidnapping. The little boy grew to manhood, fathered four children and, when he died, was buried as a Dunbar.
But was he really Bobby Dunbar?
Four years ago, the boy's granddaughter began a search for the answer. Margaret Cutright believes modern-day science may help solve a mystery that has haunted three families for 92 years.
But she is unsure whether to take her search to its logical conclusion.
Bobby Dunbar was lost once. Does she have the right to take him away again?
The Louisiana papers dubbed it the crime of the young 20th century.
On a sultry August morning in 1912, a group set out for a fishing contest along Swayze's muddy shores. When the participants returned to the cabins for lunch, Bobby Dunbar wandered off unnoticed.
No straw hat nor any other trace could be found of Percy and Lessie Dunbar's older son. But when searchers found a solitary set of bare footprints leading toward a rickety railroad trestle out of the swamps, and talk surfaced of a stranger wandering those parts, the Dunbars decided Bobby must have been taken.
The citizens of Opelousas pledged a $1,000 reward for Bobby's return, "no questions asked." Percy Dunbar, a well-respected real estate and insurance man, had a detective agency print up postcards with a picture and description of Bobby, and mail them to town and county officials from east Texas to Florida.
"Large round blue eyes, hair light, but turning dark, complexion very fair with rosy cheeks, well developed, stout but not very fat," it read. "Big toe on left foot badly scarred from burn when a baby."
In April 1913, a wire arrived from the little town of Hub, Miss. A drifter named William Cantwell Walters had been taken into custody there. He had a boy with him who matched Bobby's description.
The Dunbars rushed to Mississippi, but they were not immediately sure this was their boy.
The youth had a scar on his left foot. He had a mole on his neck where Bobby had one. But he refused to answer to the name Bobby, and when the mother tried to hold him, he would have nothing to do with her.
Mrs. Dunbar asked to see the boy again the next day. After stripping and bathing him, her uncertainty left her.
"Thank God, it is my boy," she shouted. Then she fainted.
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