More than 50 years after a toddler disappeared from outside a bakery in New York, a man has come forward to claim that he is the missing boy, authorities said yesterday.
The missing boy's father, Jerry Damman, said he was hopeful the man is his son.
“After all those years, you kind of lost all hope,” he said.
Authorities did not release the identity of the man from Michigan.
He approached Nassau County police and federal authorities over the past few months and said he believes he is Steven Damman, who disappeared when he was just two-years-old, said Nassau County Police Lt Kevin Smith.
The case was referred to the FBI and authorities are awaiting DNA results to determine whether the man's claim is true, Mr Smith said.
Mr Damman said “it's very possible” that the man could be his son.
“To a certain extent this would probably close it,” said Mr Damman, who lives on a farm near Newton, Iowa, about 30 miles east of Des Moines.
The man believes he never fit in with the family he grew with up, said an official familiar with the investigation.
The man believed he might be a missing person and learned of the Damman case by researching cases around the nation, the official said.
Mr Damman and his wife, who is not Steven Damman's mother, said they believe the man might have stopped by their farm last year.
His sister, Pamela, also got a visit from the same man, they said. “She looked at this guy, and he looked like Jerry,” said Mr Damman's second wife Charlotte.
Mr Damman said he tried to call the man twice yesterday since a report of his claim was first published in the New York Daily News.
“Naturally you're hopeful. Just like a death gives you closure, you know sometimes, it will give you closure to know what happened,” Mr Damman said. Mr Damman worked at Mitchell Air Force Base on Long Island when his son disappeared. His then-wife, Marilyn, left her son and seven-month-old daughter, Pamela, waiting outside a bakery while she went inside to shop on October 31, 1955.
“Back in that time, it was probably not that uncommon to do something like that,” Mr Smith said.
After 10 minutes, Marilyn left the bakery but couldn't find the push chair or her children, authorities said.
The push chair, with only her daughter inside, was found around the corner from the market a short time later, authorities said. More than 2,000 people searched for 28 hours without finding Steven.
The boy's family received a ransom note in mid-November. Steven's parents also made a plea to the kidnappers, saying Steven suffered from anaemia and asking that he receive vitamins, aspirin and a tonic.
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