Man thinks he was boy abducted in ’55

KALKASKA, Mich. (AP) — The same chubby cheeks. The same round face and bright, blue eyes. And, most important, the faint scar on his chin.

John Barnes does indeed bear a striking resemblance to photos of a 2-year-old boy who was snatched from outside a bakery on New York’s Long Island in 1955. And he hopes DNA tests will confirm the suspicions he’s harbored virtually his entire life — that the couple who raised him were not his biological parents.

“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,” Barnes, a laborer who is now in his 50s, told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Barnes said he never really bonded with the mother and father who reared him. They didn’t look like him, and they just didn’t seem like family.

“They would say, ‘Oh, you look like your grandpa so-and-so or your uncle so-and-so.’ But they never had any pictures to show me to compare it with. ... I just had a hunch that something was fishy,” Barnes said.

“I never asked them if they kidnapped me. I asked them why I was so different from them,” Barnes said of his parents.

Asked about a possible abduction, the man who reared Barnes called the idea “a bunch of foolishness.”

“I’m his dad,” Richard Barnes said. He shook his head and replied, “no, no,” when asked by a reporter if he had kidnapped John Barnes.

John Barnes said the woman who reared him hinted before her death about a decade ago that she was not his biological mother.

“She requested that I come over there by myself, and she wanted to talk to me. I think that’s what she was trying to tell me,” he said.

Years earlier, Barnes had 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.

Barnes said pictures of the missing boy’s mother when she was a young adult resembled what he looked like at the same age.

“I thought I looked like her, so I had something to sink my teeth into,” said Barnes, who has done farm and factory work but is currently unemployed.

The mother, Marilyn Damman, left the boy and his 7-month-old sister waiting outside a bakery while she went inside to shop on Oct. 31, 1955, according to police and news accounts at the time.