Thursday, June 18, 2009

DNA tests prove man is not Stephen Damman - Missing boy

DNA tests by the FBI have crushed the hopes of an American man convinced he was a toddler kidnapped in New York, US in 1955.

Michigan man John Barnes believed the tests could prove he was Stephen Damman, a 2 -year-old boy snatched outside a bakery on Long Island when left alone briefly by his mother 54 years ago.

Pamela Damman Horne was 7 months old when she was kidnapped along with her brother outside the shop on October 31, 1955.

Mrs Horne was soon found not far from the shop but her brother was never seen again.

The FBI announced on its website that tests comparing the DNA samples of Mrs Horne and Mr Barnes showed they didn't share the same mother.

Mr Barnes had told media that he never felt like he belonged in the family who he grew up with and while searching for his possible roots came across media reports of the Damman kidnapping.

He believed the missing toddler's mother Marilyn Damman bore an uncanny resemblance to himself as did photos of the child.

Mr Barnes and Mrs Horne became close and had believed they may be siblings.

But Richard Barnes, who raised John, had denied kidnapping his son, who he insisted was his own flesh and blood.

In Iowa, Stephen's father, Jerry Damman, was reportedly disappointed by the DNA test results.

"It's too bad we had to go through all of this for actually nothing in the end," he was reported as saying.

"I guess we don't know any more than we did. It's been very hard to bring this all up after all those years. It's been hard."

Mr Barnes said he was born the same year Stephen disappeared but that he had only seen his birth certificate once.

Photos of the missing toddler's mother on the internet led him to believe he could be Stephen. 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, so he started looking into the case.

Mr Barnes did bear a striking resemblance to a photo of the missing toddler: He had the same chubby cheeks, the same round face and bright, blue eyes. And there was a faint line on his chin, close to the scar the missing toddler was said to have.

But his father, Richard Barnes, immediately dismissed the speculation as "a bunch of foolishness," and said John Barnes was born in a Navy hospital in Pensacola, Florida,US on August 18, 1955.

Cheryl Barnes, John Barnes' sister, said she was not surprised by the test results. Mending fences, she said, won't be easy. "He pretty much lost 2 families today," she said.

"We knew that was going to be the outcome. ... My dad feels the same way. Neither of us had a doubt. My dad knows who his son is. I'm angry at my brother for putting everyone through this, turning everybody's lives upside down."

No one answered the door at John Barnes' home. A message seeking comment was also left for a lawyer representing the toddler's sister in Lee's Summit, Missouri.

Dwight Damman, a son from Jerry Damman's 2nd marriage who would be the missing toddler's half brother, said he always had been skeptical of Barnes' story.

"We did not hold out a lot of hope that it was true, "Dwight Damman said. "After the pictures came out it kinda made you think, but with DNA you've to wait for the results."


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