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Michigan Man Claims to be NY Boy Kidnapped 53 Years Ago

A 53 year old kidnapping mystery may soon be solved -- pending the results of DNA testing. A Michigan man named John Barnes thinks his real name is Stephen Damman, and that he was kidnapped in New York when he was two years old. The man who raised Barnes says this is ridiculous, while the kidnapped boy's father is excited to perhaps see his son again.

The story begins on October 31, 1955, when Marilyn Damman left Stephen and her seven month old daughter in a stroller outside a bakery on Long Island while she went in to shop -- a common practice back then. When she came out, the stroller was gone. She found it around the corner with just the girl inside. Stephen was never seen again.

Switch to Michigan, where Barnes says he never bonded with his parents. He told the Today show he didn't look like them, and they just didn't feel like family:

"I just had a hunch that something was fishy. I never asked them if they kidnapped me. I asked them why I was so different from them. I've always wanted to know who my real relatives were and where I came from."

So a few years ago, Barnes started his own investigation, and came across the story of the Damman kidnapping on the Internet. His eyes lit up when he saw a photo of the young Marilyn Damman, and saw a resemblance to himself at the same age: "I thought I looked like her, so I had something to sink my teeth into."

Also peaking Barnes' interest -- the flier passed around at the time said the kidnapped boy had a small scar uner his chin. Barnes has a similar scar.

Barnes then sought out the woman who may be his sister -- the little girl in the stroller at the time of the kidnapping. Pamela Horne says there was an instant connection between the two:

"When we first talked, it was just an immediate friendship Like we had known each other for years."

They did a home DNA test in March and Barnes said it indicated they could be related. Tha's when Banes contacted police on Long Island. He also says the F.B.I. took a DNA sample in March. Those are the results that are pending that could solve the mystery.

But the man who raised Barnes said he doesn't need DNA results. Richard Barnes told the Associated Press this is all a "bunch of foolishness" and that he is Barnes' father. He insisted Barnes had never been kidnapped.

Cheryl Barnes said she was "flabbergasted" by Barnes' claims and is willing to undergo DNA testing to prove they are biological siblings:

"I can't begin to know why he would think this. Everybody in my family thinks John looks just like my dad."

For his part, Jerry Damman, the father of the kidnapped boy, told the AP "it's almost too good to believe" that Barnes could his son.

Modern technology will possibly solve this decades old mystery, something John Barnes says is a long time coming:

"I'm really glad that I'm finally finding all of this out, finding out who I'm related to. Because I didn't want to get old and die and not know."


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