Weird News 6/19/16
Weird news of the week.
It was a parent’s worst nightmare.
On a late summer day in 1912, a young boy vanished while on a fishing trip with his family. The nightmare seemed over eight months later, when authorities found a boy matching the missing child’s description. This discovery, however, was merely the beginning of a family mystery that lasted for decades.
Little Bobby Dunbar was four years old when he went missing on August 23, 1912. His family, on vacation from their home in Opelousas, Louisiana, had been fishing at Swayze Lake in St. Landry Parish. Upon realizing their son was gone, the Dunbars contacted police. Authorities launched a massive manhunt for the missing boy.
In April 1913, investigators located a child in neighboring Mississippi who seemed to match Bobby’s description. The boy was in the custody of William Cantwell Walters, a handyman who specialized in piano and organ repair. William and the boy were traveling at the time, and while the man readily admitted that he was not the boy’s father, he did claim to know the mother. The child, he declared, was Charles Bruce Anderson—known simply as Bruce. He was the son of Julia Anderson, a young woman who worked for the Walters family. William was traveling with Bruce at the express permission of his mother.
The handyman’s story failed to convince investigators. William was promptly arrested for kidnapping, and the young boy was taken into state custody. Percy and Lessie Dunbar, meanwhile, hurried to Mississippi to claim their son.
Complications arose almost immediately. While some newspapers claimed the boy shouted “Mother” and raced to Lessie Dunbar, other sources told of frightened tears in the child’s eyes, and Lessie expressing doubt as to whether the boy was her son. Reports of little Bobby’s reunion with his brother Alonzo were also split; some papers claimed the four-year-old was happy to see his sibling, while others said that the children were cool towards one other. It wasn’t until the next day, after Lessie had given the boy a bath and found familiar moles and marks on his body, that she made up her mind. The child, she said, was her Bobby.
The Dunbars were greeted with a parade upon their return to Opelousas. It seemed all was well—that is, until Julia Anderson showed up.
Julia Anderson was a young woman from North Carolina who worked as a field hand. She was unmarried and had little money to her name. Arriving in Louisiana, she claimed that the boy was her Bruce, and he had been unlawfully taken from her. Authorities as well as the Dunbar family dismissed Julia’s claims; they were convinced the case was closed.
The public was just as skeptical. Young Julia—having had two other children out of wedlock, who both died—was seen as morally unstable. Police reportedly presented a lineup of little boys to Julia that included the child in question. When she struggled to immediately identify her son, it was settled. Julia’s claims were dismissed.
And so, without the financial ability to pursue a court case, Julia Anderson went back to Mississippi, childless.
Handyman William Walters was convicted of kidnapping and sentenced to life in prison. This despite multiple testimonies—including Julia’s—that declared his innocence. He served two years in jail before his attorney appealed the conviction and his sentence was dropped. Julia married, and had seven more children; they grew up hearing the stories of their “missing” brother, Bruce.
The boy raised as Bobby Dunbar went on to marry and have four children of his own. According to his offspring, Bobby sometimes drove over to Mississippi, visiting the town in which he was “found.” While he passed away in 1966, the mystery of his disappearance lived on. Years after the man’s death, a granddaughter named Margaret Dunbar Cutright launched her own investigation into her family lineage.
Margaret hoped to confirm that she was indeed a Dunbar. The results, however, told a different tale. According to Margaret’s genealogical research and interviews with surviving family members, her grandfather was not Bobby Dunbar but Charles Bruce Anderson, Julia Anderson’s son.
Margaret’s findings divided her family; many wished she’d just left the past alone. Then, in 2006, Bob Dunbar Jr., the son of the man known as Bobby Dunbar, participated in a DNA test with his cousin, the son of Alonzo Dunbar. The test proved that the two were of no blood relation.
In 2008, This American Life released an hour-long episode dedicated to the case of Bobby Dunbar and Margaret’s search for the truth. She also co-authored a book about the disappearance, A Case for Solomon: Bobby Dunbar and the Kidnapping That Haunted a Nation.
For some, the DNA test brought closure. For others, it only raised more questions. In either case, the results mean that the disappearance of Bobby Dunbar remains unsolved. What’s more, William Walters spent two years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, while the separation of Charles Bruce Anderson from his biological family—whether done knowingly or not—was facilitated by the police.
This article originally appeared on The Lineup.
Main photo: Photos in a 1914 newspaper of a confirmed Bobby Dunbar before he was lost (left) and the boy that was found later (right). via Wikimedia Commons
Dear Florida, we love you, never change. While the state has unfortunately been the focus of much of the nation’s attention this week, we did learn a few things from crimes in the state that didn’t make the national news:
In separate incidents over the weekend, two men were booked at the Lake County Jail after deciding they wanted some chicken, but didn’t want to pay for it. According to reports, 20-year-old Ramon Maldonado allegedly brought a store bag with him into a nearby Publix and attempted to walk out with $9.89 worth of chicken wings. Elsewhere in Lake County, 54-year-old Christopher Ludwig wasn’t quite so clever, allegedly opting to tuck $5.27 worth of chicken tenders into his backpack. According to booking reports, both men were charged with retail theft, and have prior theft convictions. Ludwig remains in the Lake County Jail (apparently without bond, even though he was initially reported to be held on $1,000 bond), and his next court date is scheduled for June 29. Maldonado managed to pay the $1,000 bond and was released on Wednesday. Maldonado’s next court date is June 28. Seriously, guys, was less than 10 bucks worth of poultry really worth all this?
Lesson 2: Never “donkey kick” someone who’s trying to help you when you’re intoxicated, especially if that person happens to be a cop.
According to reports, police were responding to a call about a disturbance and reckless drivingwhen they encountered a van pulled to the side of the road on Gulf Boulevard near Navarre Beach. The driver was quickly busted for driving without a valid license, but when one deputy peeked the inside van, he got a surprise. In addition to an unidentified person in the passenger seat who was passed out from alcohol, he found 23-year-old Sara Eileen Willoughby passed out in the back seat. Willoughby had obvious signs of vomit around her mouth and all over the van floor. The deputy attempted to wake both passengers, first by himself and then with the help of another officer, but didn’t get a response.
Then, out of nowhere, Willoughby awoke with a startle and began mumbling about wanting to kill herself while trying and failing to get out of the van; she then gave up. When the two deputies asked her to get out of the van, she refused. One deputy tried to physically remove her from the van, but she began to punch, kick, and bite him. When they finally secured her, Willoughby allegedly“donkey kicked” one of the deputies in the leg. She was arrested, and charged with battery of an officer or firefighter and resisting an officer with violence. She remains in the Santa Rosa County Jail on $4,000 bond.
Lesson 3: No matter how much your landlord sucks, stabbing them with nail clippers is never a good idea.
Naomi Liorah Reilly of Port St. Lucie is facing charges of attempted murder and aggravated battery of an elderly person after police say the 39-year-old woman attacked and tried to choke her 73-year-old landlord. According to police, the unidentified landlord rented a room to Reilly, but had an issue with her not following the house rules. As a result, she told Reilly that she had until the end of the month to find a new place to live. Enraged, Reilly reportedly left the house last Sunday, but returned last Friday morning. She is believed to have followed the landlord home when she was out walking her dog, and then allegedly attacked her inside the house. According to police, Reilly punched the elderly woman in the face, tried to shove her fist down the victim’s throat, scratched her face multiple times, and even tried to use a nail file from a pair of nail clippers to stab the elderly woman in the eyes.
When police arrived, Reilly had the victim on the floor and allegedly had her hands wrapped around the victim’s throat. Police had to pull Reilly off of the elderly woman, and it reportedly took four officers to restrain Reilly. The elderly landlord was taken to Tradition Medical Center and treated for numerous lacerations. Police said that the victim was covered in blood, but was released later that day.
Reilly remains in the custody of the St. Lucie County Jail on $30,000 bond.
The video is dramatic, to say the least. An Arizona man is seen riding a bicycle when, out of nowhere, a red Ford Mustang with a white stripe pulls into the frame and rams straight into him. The victim flips up into the air and over the vehicle before landing on the ground. The Mustang zooms off and the man who was hit was left staggering around and trying to figure out what happened. The report said the victim was injured, but he did survive his injuries. The clip, according to 12 News, was captured on April 29 and later posted to YouTube.
Investigators later identified the woman behind the wheel as Misty Lee Wilke, the alleged girlfriend of the man on the bike. The motive for the hit-and-run, according to 12 News, was that Wilke had just learned her boyfriend had contracted HIV. It’s not clear if he disclosed that information voluntarily, or if she found out in some other way. According to an earlier report, the pair got into an argument after she learned about the diagnosis. Wilke alleged that she pushed the man and he allegedly pulled a knife on her. Police confirmed that Wilke did have a small cut on her arm. The victim rode off on his bike, and that’s when Wilke jumped in her car and followed him, before nailing him with the vehicle. Wilke was reportedly the one who notified police.
Wilke has since been arrested and a grand jury indicted her on charges of attempting to commit second-degree murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and leaving the scene, the report adds.
The victim suffered a back injury and needed staples in his head for a cut.
What the heck happened to 36-year-old Bashir Rasheed? Customers at the Sandy Springs Waffle House in Georgia certainly didn’t expect a graphic display of public nudity with their breakfast, but that’s what they got a few days ago, thanks to Rasheed.
According to reports, Rasheed drove up to the Waffle House in a beige BMW and parked. When he got out of the car, he was naked. Witnesses said that as he walked from the car to the restaurant, he began slowly stroking his penis. He paced around outside for a short while, eventually reaching the building’s glass door. At that point, he allegedly pressed his penis against the glass, urinated and then tried to enter the restaurant. Like they’re going to serve you after that, dude?
He was stopped by an employee, who by then was already on the phone with a 911 dispatcher. According to an eyewitness who was eating at the restaurant when Rasheed arrived, the man was babbling about how hot it was outside. Mystified by what he had witness, he described Rasheed as being “built like a potato.”
Rasheed eventually went back to his BMW, and police detained him in the street. Authorities indicated that he knew where and who he was, but he was not coherent enough to tell them why he and his penis were making such a spectacle. Police also stated that at one point, Rasheed grabbed his penis and began to urinate while he was talking to the officers. They took him to Northside Hospital for a medical and psychological evaluation, and eventually, he was cited for public indecency and released. There is still no conclusive report as to what prompted Rasheed’s display.
Police in Florida are working to unravel a mystery involving the body of a woman discovered wedged in the window of a home near to where an abandoned baby was found.
On Tuesday, around 8:30 a.m., WFLA reports that St. Petersburg police were called to a corner where an infant was found abandoned in a stroller. Lisa Hopkins, the owner of the home on the same corner, told Fox 13 she called 911 and was looking for the parents.
A little while later, Hopkins said she found the body of a woman stuck in a window of her garage apartment. Investigators believe it’s possible she suffocated.
The woman has since been identified as 24-year-old Niesha Nicole Annie Henderson, and she and her nine-month-old were reportedly homeless. The garage apartment was a place she had apparently stayed in the past. It’s unclear why she was allegedly attempting to enter through the back, when she could have knocked on the front door and spoke with Hopkins.
Police believe she used a plastic lawn chair and milk crate to try to get through the window, which was about five feet above ground level. After she had managed to get her head and arms through the window, the chair fell over, leaving her wedged between the window sill. The report said Henderson was asthmatic, which likely exacerbated her breathing problems from being stuck. The amount of time she spent stuck before passing away is unclear. Officials did not say who is taking care of her son.
“It’s tragic,” Henderson’s friend, Damia Kelly, told the local Fox station. “This city, this county needs more resources for kids who age out of foster care. They also need more resources for homeless families. She was simply trying to find a place to sleep for the night with her child.”
Do you recognize these teens? Investigators in New York City say they are wanted for allegedly beating a woman at a Brooklyn train station, the New York Daily Newsreports, and it all started because the victim sucked her teeth at them.
On May 27, the victim was getting on a train at the Utica Avenue station just after 11 a.m. when four people, who all appeared to be be teenagers, ran past her. When one of the teens’ elbows hit the woman, she responded by sucking her teeth. (Not sure what“sucking your teeth” sounds like? Here’s a YouTube video.) At that point, authorities say, the teens attacked the woman, apparently offended by sound, which some consider “disrespectful.” The teens were last seen fleeing on foot.
It appears as if the teens are all female; one was wearing a hat and had her hair pulled back; the second also had her hair pulled back and was wearing a head band; the third female also appears to possibly have longer hair pulled back into a ponytail; and the fourth suspect, the young girl up front, appears to have a clear complexion. It’s hard to tell her hair style because the photo is darker at the top of the screen. All appear to be African-American.
If you know anything about this assault or recognize any of the suspects, please contactCrime Stoppers directly and anonymously at 800-577-TIPS.