Disappearance of Bobby Dunbar

1912 disappearance of a 4 year old American boy

Bobby Dunbar was an American boy whose disappearance at the age of four and apparent return was widely reported in newspapers across the United States in 1912 and 1913.

The child raised as Bobby Dunbar standing in front of a car.

In August 1912, the Dunbars took a fishing trip to nearby Swayze Lake in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. On that trip, Bobby Dunbar disappeared, on August 23.[1]

After an eight-month nationwide search, investigators believed that they had found the child in Mississippi, in the hands of William Cantwell Walters of North Carolina.

Dunbar's parents claimed the boy as their missing son. However, both Walters and a woman named Julia Anderson said that the boy with him was Anderson's son. Julia Anderson could not afford a lawyer, and the court eventually sided for the Dunbars. Percy and Lessie Dunbar retained custody of the child, who spent the rest of his life as Bobby Dunbar.

the boy that disappeared is on the left, the one that was found is on the right

In 2004, DNA test found that the boy found with Walters and "returned" to the Dunbars as Bobby had not been a blood relative of the Dunbar family. Since the DNA testing is conclusive, the fate of the actual Bobby Dunbar remains unsolved.


  1. Tal McThenia; Margaret Dunbar Cutright (2012). A Case for Solomon: Bobby Dunbar and the Kidnapping That Haunted a Nation. Free Press. ISBN 978-1-439158593. OCLC 709673184.