In 1912, four year-old Bobby Dunbar, the son of an upper middle-class Louisiana family, went missing in the swamps. Eight months later, he was found in the company of a wandering piano-tuner, who was arrested and tried for kidnapping. But when a destitute single mother came forward to claim the boy as her son, not Bobby Dunbar, the case exploded. For two years, courts probed and newspapers sensationalized every aspect of the story. But it took nearly a full century for the real identity of the child to be known.
A Case for Solomon: Bobby Dunbar and the Kidnapping that Haunted a Nation is an astonishing, true account of one of the most celebrated—and misunderstood—kidnapping cases in American history. Co-authored by Margaret Dunbar Cutright (the granddaughter of the boy in question) and Tal McThenia, the book brings to life this incredible historic mystery in vivid, heartbreaking detail. It is a drama of family and childhood, class and power, the story of an epic struggle to determine one boy’s identity that raises unsettling questions about the formation of self.
The story was first told in a one-hour episode of This American Life, which can be heard here.