The father of a Michigan man who believes he was snatched from his real parents in New York half a century ago called the speculation “a bunch of foolishness.”
John Barnes has long suspected the couple who raised him were not his biological parents.
Now he's awaiting DNA tests to find out if he was the two-year-old boy who disappeared outside a bakery on New York's Long Island while his mother shopped inside.
“I'm his dad,” John's father, Richard Barnes, said. He replied, “No, no,” when asked by a reporter whether he had kidnapped John Barnes. He called the notion “a bunch of foolishness”.
For his part, Mr Barnes said he never really bonded with the mother and father who raised him. He said they didn't look like him and just didn't seem like family.
“I just had a hunch that something was fishy,” said Mr Barnes, a labourer who is now in his 50s. “I never asked them if they kidnapped me. I asked them why I was so different from them.”
Police in New York's Nassau County have said a Michigan man contacted their office in the past few months, saying he believes he was the missing toddler. Mr Barnes said the FBI took a sample of his DNA via a cheek swab in March.
“I don't know if I'm related to the Dammans or the Barneses. I'm just waiting for the DNA results,” he said during an interview at his mobile home in Kalkaska, almost 200 miles north-west of Detroit, where he lives with his wife and a 12-year-old Labrador.
Years earlier, Mr Barnes started his own investigation and found some potential answers on the internet — a few pictures that led him to conclude he could be the missing toddler, Stephen Damman.
Mr Barnes said pictures of the missing boy's mother when she was a young adult resembled what he looked like at the same age.
The mother, Marilyn Damman, left the boy and his seven-month-old sister waiting outside a bakery while she went inside to shop on October 31, 1955.
Marilyn Damman came out of the bakery after 10 minutes but could not find her children. The stroller, with only her daughter inside, was found around the corner from the market a short time later. A flier at the time said the boy walked with his toes turned out and had a small scar under his chin.
“Yeah, I do have a scar,” Mr Barnes said as he pointed to a faint line, less than an inch, that runs below his chin and slightly up the right side of his face.
Mr Barnes said he was born in 1955. Richard Barnes said his son was born in a Navy hospital in Pensacola, Florida, on 18 August, 1955.
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