FBI reopens 1959 case of missing 4-year-old
Baldwin County cold case remembered
Family searches 50 years for lost boy
Lesson from NY: Long-lost children rarely turn up Old Cold Case Heats Up50 Year Old Cold Case Heats Up
WKRG-TV - Mobile,AL,USA
By Pat Peterson Reporter The details surrounding the disappearance of four-year old Daniel Barter
BALDWIN COUNTY SHERIFF OFFICE
September 22, 2008
The Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office isannouncing a $5,000 reward for information leading to the return of orinformation about Daniel “Danny” Barter. Danny Barter was reported missing on June 18, 1959 fromPerdido Bay in Baldwin County Alabama.
This reward is being offered from the CaroleSund/Carrington Foundation in Modesto, California. The CaroleSund/Carrington Foundation knows that reward money can make adifference because the Foundation’s reward money as alreadyassisted in the location of nine missing persons, the apprehension of37 murder suspects, 3 kidnappers of young children and one suspectcharged with attempted murder of a peace officer. Thefoundation reward program is responsible for currently having 37suspects in custody in 10 states.
To date the Foundation has paid a total of $262,600in rewards to citizens who did the right thing by coming forward andsharing the information they had regarding these cases. Weall have a responsibility to do our part to help make our community asafe place.
Carole and Juli Sund and Silvina Pelosso were threewomen sightseers who were missing and later found murdered nearYosemite National Park in February of 1999. While they weremissing, Carole Sund’s parents, Francis and CaroleCarrington, at the request of the FBI posted rewards both for theirsafe return and for information leading to the whereabouts of theirrental car. The Carrington’s believe that theposting of these rewards and the media attention they receivedcontributed to the car being located and gave them the first break inthe case.
The Carrington’s were thankful that theyhad the means to offer those rewards and it is because of this thatthey have started the Carole Sund/Carrington Foundation. Thisfoundation was established to assist in cases such as the case of DannyBarter. Danny was only 4 years old when he disappeared from afamily camp site and after an exhaustive investigation, remains missingtoday.
If you have any information as to the circumstancessurrounding Danny’s disappearance please contact CaptainSteve Arthur Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office or your localoffice of the FBI.
A California-based foundation has offered $5,000 toanyone with information about Danny Barter, who, as a toddler,disappeared in 1959 from his family's campsite on the western shore ofPerdido Bay.
One of the largest manhunts in Baldwin County's historyturned up no substantial clues in the 4-year-old's whereabouts, andnearly four decades have passed with no new information. In recentyears Barter's sisters, who now live in Texas, have pushed to restartefforts to locate their brother -- or at least figure out what happenedto him -- and the Baldwin County Sheriff's Department has renewed itsinterest in the case.
Danny Barter, a 4-year-old Mobilian who wentmissing from a family campsite along Perdido Bay in 1959, is shown ashe may appear today at age 54.
Continuereading the entry...
This is the most recent news article by RyanDezember of the Mobile Press Register. This is the secondarticle by Ryan about Danny. Great job Ryan!
Policerekindle interest in cold case
Investigators hope to jog memories of Danny Barter's 1959 disappearancealong Perdido Bay Wednesday, July 16, 2008By RYAN DEZEMBER StaffReporter
ROBERTSDALE — With the 50th anniversary of 4-year-old DannyBarter's disappearance approaching, investigators are renewing theirinterest in one of Baldwin County's most vexing cold cases.
On Tuesday, two of Barter's sisters traveled from Texas toRobertsdale,where Baldwin County Sheriff Huey "Hoss" Mack Jr. and oneof his top detectives told them and members of the local Rotary Clubthat local and federal investigators are putting the case back on thefront burner.
The Sheriff's Office is also pushing to bring national media attentionto the unsolved disappearance in hopes of generating leads in theclueless case of a toddler who vanished from the shores of Perdido Bayin 1959.
"As we approach the 50th anniversary, it is still likely that DanielBarter is alive somewhere in the United States not knowing he is DanielBarter," Mack told the Robertsdale Rotary Club over lunch at Mama Lou'sRestaurant. "This is a great mystery in Baldwin County."
Mack and Capt. Steve Arthur said that one difficulty in working thecase is that there have never been credible leads in the case.
"There's no evidence that links this to anything because there is noevidence," Arthur said.
About a decade ago, Mack, who was the Sheriff's Office leaddetective,said he was asked by then-Sheriff James B. "Jimmy" Johnson topull the case file on Danny Barter. When he went looking, he foundthere was none.
Nowadays, a missing child case would generate a file that wouldoverwhelm a kitchen table, Mack said.
In 1959, however, case files in rural Baldwin County were stored in theheads of detectives, or perhaps on a scrap of paper in a lawman'spocket. As such, the sheriff said, records of Barter's disappearanceand the subsequent investigation exist solely in dusty newspaperclippings and the memories of family members, like sisters WandaMcNelly and Theresa White.
The story that those clippings tell starts 49 years ago on a Wednesdaymorning at a campsite on the eastern banks of Perdido Bay.
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The Barter family — parents Maxine and Paul, four of theirsix children, an uncle and a cousin — was on vacation,campingon a Lillian-area lot where they planned to one day build a home. Atabout 9:45 a.m., they noticed Danny was gone. There was no trace ofhim, not the gray boxer shorts he was wearing, not the Nehi soda bottlehe was drinking from, not the footprints his bare feet would have lefton the beach had he wandered into the bay.
By afternoon, some 150 people were searching on foot, by boat and fromthe air. There were Baldwin County sheriff's deputies, Foleyfirefighters, volunteers and enlisted men from Pensacola Naval AirStation.
The following day, there were about 500 searchers. The bottom of thebay was dragged; sinkholes and thickets were scoured. On the thirdday,bloodhounds were brought to the scene. They repeatedly tracked theboy's scent to the same spot on a nearby road.
By the weekend, the search grew more grim: Dynamite was tossed into thebay in hopes of jarring a body loose. Alligators were hunted down andgutted, their insides examined for traces of the child.
Danny Barter was terrified of water, and so for years many in lawenforcement — ruling out an accidental drowning—supposed he was stealthily snatched by an alligator. Therewere some who thought that he may have been abducted, but aside fromthe parents recollection of a peeping Tom in their Mobile neighborhoodand a suspicious man at a Lillian grocery store, there was nothing toconvince investigators that Barter was kidnapped, Mack said.
Today, though, abduction is the prevailing theory, giving Barter'sfamily and investigators hope that the boy who disappeared nearly ahalf-century ago might turn up somewhere as a grown man with a lot tolearn about himself.
As such, the Sheriff's Office has started asking around for those whorecall the disappearance, looking for new clues to surface. The FBI hasbecome involved, helping local detectives conduct out-of-stateinterviews, Arthur said. And Mack said there has been a drive to getnationally televised crime shows to take an interest in the case.
Even the use of a medium has been contemplated, Arthur said, thoughcosts have so far prevented a psychic from being hired.
On Tuesday, Arthur, Mack and Barter's sisters urged their audience totake the story to friends and neighbors, to make the case the talk ofthe town in hopes of turning up forgotten details.
"Time is of the essence; we're not getting any younger," Mack said. "Incases like this it's often the things you don't think are importantthat turn out to be important." http://www.al.com/news/press-register/inde...ll=3&thispage=1
One of the mostrecent news article about Danny published on June 11,2008. This article was well written by Tommy Campbell,Publisher of the Choctaw Sun Advocate located inButler, AL.Danny's mother was from Toxey, AL which is located inChoctaw county,AL.
By Tommy Campbell
LILLIAN,Ala.— On a hot, muggy south Alabama summer day in June,1959,Paul and Maxine Barter, four of their six children and two otherfamily members set out from their homes in Mobile on what they thoughtwould be a fun-filled camping trip to nearby Perdido Bay.
Before thatill-fated trip was over, the disappearance without a trace of their4-1/2 year-old son, Danny, would spark a massive air, land and seasearch the likes of which the Gulf Coast had never seen.
Upwards of 2,000volunteers, including more than 300 sailors and Marines from nearbymilitary bases, law enforcement officials from Alabama and Florida andothers using boats, fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, jeeps, horses andchampion bloodhounds combed a five-square mile area in a search thatlasted for more than a week before it was finally and reluctantlycalled off.
The disappearancemade headlines in newspapers across the country, and even attracted theattention of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who sent a personal letterto the family expressing his sadness over the disappearance andassuring them that the matter was being given consideration by theagency.
In spite of theHerculean effort, not one shred of evidence was found to substantiateany of the theories surrounding Danny’s disappearance, whicheven today, remains shrouded in mystery.
In the 49 yearsthat have passed since the cute little boy with the wavy dark brownhair, dimples, and big, smiling brown eyes disappeared, no remains wereever found, nor have any live sightings been reported.
Did he wanderaway from the campsite and drown in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico,orfall victim to one of the large alligators or poisonous snakes thatwere known to inhabit the wooded, brushy, beach front lot?
Or, as his familybelieves, based on a number of bizarre and still unexplained incidentsinvolving a peeping tom, and mysterious vehicles parked near thefamily’s home in Mobile and at a store near the campsiteAnthe morning he disappeared, was he kidnapped by someone who had beenstalking the family; someone who may have known of plans for thecamping trip, or followed them and laid in wait for a chance to grabthe child at the site in eastern Baldwin County?
No one knows forsure.
But in spite ofnearly five decades of silence, of waiting, hoping, and praying withnone information, his siblings and a “coldcase”volunteer who lives in Salem, Ala., remain optimisticthat Danny– who would celebrate his 54th birthday on Dec.12th of this year — could still be alive, or at the veryleast, if he is deceased, that someone, somewhere has the answers thatcould give surviving family members closure and peace of mind.
“We arebasically everyday people who do detective work on cold cases to tryand help law enforcement solve them,” said Lynn Reuss, avolunteer with an organization called Porchlight for the Missing andUnidentified, who first brought the incident to theSun-Advocate’s attention. “I took an interest inDanny’s case because I am from Alabama and I just have a softspot for children. He was a very cute little boy. I am hoping that bysharing this information with the home county ofDanny’smother, it will generate some new information to helpme with my research.”
It was a letterfrom Reuss published in the Sun-Advocate earlier this year thatgenerated enough response to cause state and federal investigators totake a fresh look into the disappearance.
A spokesman forthe Mobile District Office of the FBI confirmed to the Sun-Advocate onTuesday that the case has gotten renewed attention from Baldwin Countyauthorities.
Tim White saidthat while the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Department is thelead investigative agency and has jurisdiction in the case, federalauthorities can get involved when local agencies request assistance
“Andthat is what has happened,” White said. “BaldwinCounty authorities have asked for our help in conducting interviews andtracking down some people who have moved far away.”
If necessary, hesaid, the FBI can also assist in conducting forensics tests that areoutside of the abilities of local law enforcement agencies to provide.
“We arehere to do whatever we can do to help,” White said.
When last seen onthe morning of June 17th, 1959, Danny was playing at thecampsite,waiting on his parents to finish rigging fishing poles so thatthey could cast their lines in the shallow waters of Perdido Bay.
According toDanny’s sisters, Wanda McNelly and Theresa White, who nowlive in Texas, the passing years have not diminished thefamily’s stead fast hope that their brother could be alive.
“Ourparents are both gone now, and we can go and visit theirgraves,” Theresa told the Sun-Advocate in an interview lastweek. “We know where they are and what happened to them. Butwe don’t know for sure what happened to Danny. Wecan’t go and put flowers on his grave. We believe in ourhearts that he is still alive, but even if he isn’t, whateverhappened, we would like to know so that we can at least put him to restin our hearts and minds.”
Digging for factsin the case has been made more difficult by the passing of time and thedeaths of family members and investigators who were around at the time.
The familynevertheless clings to the belief that someone, somewhere, knowssomething about Danny’s disappearance and maybe even hiswhereabouts today.
“Wewould love to get a phone call, a letter, anything, just to let us knowwhat happened,” Danny’s oldest sister Wanda toldthe Sun-Advocate in an interview last week from her home in Texas.
Paul Barter diedof a heart attack in 1965 at the age of 46; Maxine passed away 30 yearslater, in 1995. Their youngest son Tony, who was born in Feb.,1960,died 11 years ago of Hodgkin’s Disease. Unknown to Mr.and Mrs. Barter, Maxine was about one month pregnant with Tony at thetime Danny went missing.
Also, as theSun-Advocate has learned from interviews with family members andinvestigators, much of the information published in newspaper accountsof the day is inaccurate, and that many of the original investigativereports have either been lost or thrown out in the years since thetragedy occurred.
Theresa, th enext-to-the-youngest of the Barter children, was two years old whenDanny went missing. She and their brother, Michael, then 3-1/2, did notgo on the camping trip but remained in Mobile with their aunt, VeraBarter, the wife of Paul’s brother Jim, who owned the beachfront lot where they were headed.
Wanda, who wasjust a month away from her 13th birthday, likewise did not accompanythe family on the trip, opting instead to spend part of her summervacation with her widowed grandmother, Rennie (Lester) Thompson atMaxine’s childhood home at Toxey, Ala.
“Ifound out what had happened when I walked into the kitchen that day andsaw my grandmother crying,” Wanda recalled. “Iasked her what was wrong, and she said that Danny wasmissing.”
A native ofMichigan, Paul Barter grew up in the Mobile area and enlisted in theU.S. Army. He met his future wife, the former Maxine Thompson, whileshe was a waitress at a local restaurant. He became a stockroom managerfor Morrison’s Cafeteria in Mobile, and the couple and theirchildren settled into a modest but comfortable home on Thrush Drive inthe Birdville section of the city.
It was from thatresidence that Mr. and Mrs. Barter and four of their children,Steve,then 11, Ronald, 10, Bobby, 8, Danny, and their 11-year oldcousin,Runeau Barter, loaded up the Paul and Maxine’s stationwagon on June 16th, 1959 and headed for the beach.
The trip toLillian would have taken about an hour under normal conditions, andfollowing what is believed to have been an uneventful journey, theBarters pulled off U.S. 98 onto Boykin Boulevard leading to theproperty, set up camp and bedded down for the night.
Paul and Jimspent the night in a tent. Maxine Barter, the four boys and theircousin, Runeau, slept in the station wagon.
“It wasa camping trip, but they actually went there to help clear the land fora beach house they wanted to build,” Wanda said.“Itwas a little way back from the beach and there was quite a bit of sand.The water there was shallow, and you could walk a long way out into thebay before it got past your knees.”
Thatfact,combined with the knowledge that the little boy was scared of thewater and wouldn’t go near it unless accompanied by an oldersibling or his parents, are two of the main reasons why they do notbelieve Danny drowned.
The sisterslikewise do not believe he would have wandered into the thick, pricklycoastal undergrowth that bordered the campsite, and the fact that thelittle boy was bare-footed, shirt-less and dressed only in a pair ofgray shorts on that hot, muggy summer day.
The morning ofJune 17th began like any other day at the beach for a typicalfamily,the sisters said, recalling what they had been told about theincident.
“Youhave to understand that neither of us was there, and our parentsdidn’t talk much about this in front of us when we weregrowing up because it was upsetting and very hard forthem,”Wanda said. Much of what they now know comes fromtalking with their siblings who were there and who could recall detailsof the trip.
After awakeningthat morning, Mrs. Barter, accompanied by Danny and another of thechildren — whom they believe to have been Ronald—drove to a nearby store in Lillian to buy food forbreakfast, some snacks and soft drinks.
News articles ofthe day indicated that it was Mr. Barter who drove to the store butboth sisters said those reports were incorrect. Also, they said, one ofthose soft drink bottles would later become known as amajor“missing piece of the puzzle”.
Arriving back atthe campsite, Maxine prepared breakfast while Paul played with thechildren. Afterward, Danny opened one of the Nehi® soft drinksand was walking around holding the bottle at the time he went missing.
According to areport published in The Pensacola News Journal on June 18th, 1959,Mrs.Barter described her son as a “mommy-daddybaby”who would not stray far away from them. They hadpromised to take Danny fishing later that morning in the shallow watersof Perdido Bay, and she told the paper that he was standing next to herwhile she attempted to untangle a line on one of their fishing poles.
Mrs. Barter saidthat she had put three hooks on lines when she looked up a few minuteslater, sometime between 9:30 and 10 a.m., and noticed Danny wasgone.After a quick search of the perimeter turned up no trace of Danny,his mother “became desperate” and ran to a nearbyhouse to call for help, according to the newspaper.
That help arrivedin the form of scores of volunteers, law enforcement officials, andsailors from Naval Air Station Pensacola and other bases along theFlorida and Alabama Gulf Coast. The intense search continued thatafternoon and well into the night, and for a week afterward.
Several times over the coming days, searchers formed human chains andwalked shoulder-to-shoulder through the shallow waters of the bay andnearby woods but found no sign of the child.
Dr. S.R. Monroe,aGadsden veterinarian who learned about the search from a newspaperheadline, called to offer the use of three of his championbloodhounds.Baldwin Sheriff Taylor Wilkins gladly accepted the offerand the dogs and their owner were rushed to the scene by Alabama StateTroopers.
Dr. Monroe, whois now deceased, spent several days searching the area with thehounds,and stated flatly to the Mobile Press Register on June 21stthat, in his opinion, “the child did not leave the scenewalking.”
Although newsreports of the day made it sound as if the site was overrun bygiant,man-eating alligators, poisonous snakes, and quicksand bogs, noneof the siblings remember the campsite as being that dangerous.
“I’msure there were alligators and snakes around,” Theresasaid.“But it wasn’t at all like they made it out tobe.It was a nice place.”
Sheriff Wilkinstold the Press-Register at the time that he did not believe the childwas attacked by a ‘gator since Dr. Monroe’sbloodhounds failed to pick up a trail which could have led to the sceneof such an attack.
Lillian residentCarl P. Klein, who helped to organize one of the searches, in anarticle published by the Mobile Press Register on the 25th anniversaryof the disappearance in 1986, said that he didn’t put muchstock in the alligator theory, either.
“Thedogs (Dr. Monroe’s bloodhounds) always came back to thatpoint near the pavement,” Klein said.
He also said hedid not believe Danny had wandered away from the site or gotten lost.
“Ourmother always said the same thing,” Theresa told theSun-Advocate.
“As faras we know, he got that far and that was it,” Wanda added.
Although nofootprints were found leading toward the bay, Navy divers —onthe chance that Danny could have drowned or been snatched by analligator and dragged to an underwater den — scoured thefloor of the bay and set off underwater explosive charges at severaldeep-water holes in an effort to dislodge a body.
Mrs. Barter saidin published reports that one diver assured her that, in hisopinion,the boy did not drown.
Several largealligators were shot and gutted to see if any evidence could be foundthat one of the large reptiles might have eaten the child, but in spiteof those efforts, no such evidence was found.
After threedays,Sheriff Wilkins likewise said publicly that he was“nearly satisfied that the boy did not wander into the woodsor water near the campsite.” Although admitting thatauthorities could not substantiate a kidnapping since no ransom demandhad been received and no one had actually seen Danny being abducted,Wilkins said that he tended to lean in that direction, “sinceevery foot of th eland for five miles around and almost as much waterhas been thoroughly searched without finding a trace of thechild.”
Thedistraught,sedated mother agreed.
“Idefinitely believe now that someone picked him up and has carried himaway,” she told a Press Register reporter at the scene.
“Mothertried to tell them the whole time that she was afraid he had beenkidnapped but nobody would listen to her,” Wandarecalled.“You could see the bridge going into Florida fromthe site.Someone could have grabbed Danny, got on U.S. 98 and been longgone in a couple of hours.”
The kidnapping theory has been bolstered by another seemingly trivial cluethat actually could be an important “missing link”to the abduction theory — despite the massive search, notrace of the Nehi® soft drink bottle Danny was holding at thetime of his disappearance was found, which leads family members andresearchers to discount the theory that he met a violent death in theclutches of an alligator.
If Danny wassnatched by a stranger, or if he some how willingly got into a waitingvehicle, he could have been holding the bottle, family members said.
“If hehad been attacked by an alligator, in all likelihood, he would probablyhave dropped the bottle during the attack,” Reuss toldtheSun-Advocate.
And, the sistersagreed, their parents would have no doubt have heard the childscreaming or calling for help had an alligator been after him or had hebecome disoriented and lost.
“There’sno way he could have walked that far away that they couldn’thear him calling,” Wanda said.
Mrs. Barter saidin published reports that she believed someone had walked up the roadto the somewhat secluded campsite, unnoticed to anyone there, andgrabbed the child.
“Youcouldn’t see the campsite from the road, you had to go downalong path,” Wanda said. Unknown to the family, a kidnappercould have parked a car nearby and been lying in wait in the thickundergrowth waiting for an opportunity to grab the child.
Mrs. Barter toldthe Pensacola News Journal at the time that if Danny had indeed beenkidnapped, it could not have been for monetary gain.
“I knowit wasn’t for ransom, because we have no money saved and aresupporting our children on my husband’s income,”shesaid in the June 21, 1959 article.
In a 25thanniversary article published in 1986 in the Mobile PressRegister,former Baldwin Co. Sheriff Wilkins – who at thattime was operating a security company in Bay Minette – saidthat memories of the incident still haunted him.
“Youknow, we never found the slightest trace of the boy,” hesaid. “Not one piece of clothing or anything concrete to tellus if he drowned or somebody took him.”
Wilkins addedthat searchers “didn’t leave anythingunturned,” and that while he personally hated to send thepeople home, after weeks with no trace, he had no choice.
The Pensacolapaper reported that a “wake-like” funeral pallseemed to hang over the searchers when they were told it was over.
Even so, theformer sheriff slept in his car at the site for three nights aftercalling off the search just in case Danny might wander back, or thatsome clue or other evidence would be found.
Onereport,publicized in the June 25th edition of the Pensacola NewsJournal,claimed that a Lillian resident reported to SheriffWilkins’office that — several days after Danny wentmissing— persons in a car on the main road of the communitywere seen to let a small boy, about Danny’s age, out of thevehicle and pull away. The witness said the boy ran off after the carbut if any other details were ever provided, or if the incident wasinvestigated further, it was not reported to the public or to thefamily.
About a monthafter the disappearance, Paul Barter’semployer,Morrison’s Restaurant, obtained the services ofinvestigator Edward J. Foster, of New Orleans-based PendletonDetectives Inc., to conduct an independent investigation. The resultsof that investigation were never shared with Baldwin County officialsnor made available to the family.
The Sun-Advocatecontacted the Pendleton organization, which is now located inJackson,Miss., in an attempt to obtain a copy of the report. Officialsat the present company said that the New Orleans office was sold toVinson Security Service in 1963. Vinson still operates in New Orleansbut did not respond to a Sun-Advocate email asking if records from 1959still exist.
In a series ofwhat family members say appeared to have been unrelated incidents atthe time, those separate occurrences now seem to lend more credence tothe theory that their brother may have indeed been kidnapped, bothsisters told this newspaper.
About a monthbefore Danny’s disappearance, Maxine Barter was hanging outher washing on the clothesline in their yard when she noticed a strangeman parked in a car on the street in front of their home on ThrushDrive.
There were a lotof young girls who lived in the neighborhood at the time, andMrs.Barter was afraid it might be a possible attempt to kidnap one oftheir two daughters or someone else’s.
“Whenmother started walking toward him he put a newspaper up to hide hisface,” Wanda recalled. “As she got closer, he droveaway.”
Not longafterward, a neighbor saw a “Peeping Tom” standinglooking into the window of the Barter boys’ bedroom oneevening.
Thebrothers,including Danny, were sleeping on bunk beds in the room at thetime.
“Ourneighbor had a German shepherd that ran around to the side of outhouse,barking,” Wanda said. When the neighbor came to get dog, shesaw the man and ran to tell Mrs. Barter.
By the time theycould get around the house, the unidentified intruder had fled, butleft several clearly defined footprints in the soil underneath thewindow.
The Mobile PoliceDepartment supposedly made plaster casts and photos of the prints butSun-Advocate calls to that department asking for information on the oldrecords were not returned.
Anotherincident,which may have not gotten the attention it deserved at thetime, was at the Lillian store which Mrs. Barter and the two boysvisited on the morning of June 17, 1959.
Danny and one ofhis brothers remained in the car while Mrs. Barter went inside. A cardriven by an unknown man pulled up beside the Barter’svehicle, and the driver sat staring intently at the two boys beforedriving away from the store. It made such an impression onDanny’s older brother that he reported the incident to hismother when she came back to the station wagon.
“As faras we know, the man didn’t bother them, just lookedanthem,” Wanda said.
If Baldwin orMobile County officials still have any of the records, members of thefamily say they would love to see those documents.
Several monthsafter Danny disappeared, Mrs. Barter wearied of people riding bystaring and pointing to their house.
“Everytime she would go to the store, someone would bring itup,”Theresa said. “She finally got tired of thewhispers and couldn’t take it anymore and told daddy shewanted a new house, just to try and get away from some ofthat.”
Mr. Barter wasapproved for a VA-backed loan and so they moved into a new home onMobile’s Dog River.
Some timelater,they moved back to a rental house in the Birdville neighborhood.
“It wasa real emotional struggle for both Mother and Daddy,” Theresarecalled. “They had a hard time dealing withDanny’s disappearance.”
In 1962, theirgrandmother, Rennie Jackson Thompson, invited them to come and live ina home their uncle had built, so the family packed up and moved toChoctaw County.
“Iworked at the shirt factory in Toxey and mother worked at Vanity Fairin Butler,” Wanda said. “Daddy got acook’s job on a boat out of Louisiana, so he was gone alot.”
Later, one oftheir mother’s sisters, who lived in Corpus Christie,Texas,became seriously ill and after a trip west to help care for her,Maxine and family decided to move there in 1963.
“We allstayed pretty close and we’ve been here eversince,” Theresa said.
Family membershave not sat idly by through the years, but have worked in any way theycan to keep Danny’s story in the public eye.
They have evencontributed samples of their own DNA to a national database for missingpersons so that any evidence that turns up can be tested to determineif it is in fact, Danny’s.
“Sofar, we have heard nothing, but that doesn’t mean wedon’t have hope,” Wanda said. “There isalways hope.”
Danny is listedon the website for the National Center for Missing and ExploitedChildren, which has provided the family with an age-progressed computerimage of what he would look like today as a man in hismid-50’s.
An independentwebsite featuring photos, scans of various newspaper articles throughthe years, and other information has been set up atwww.littleboylost-dannybarter.1colony.com.
Family memberssay that somewhere out there today they believe Danny is stillalive,but simply does not know his true identity.
“If heis alive, Danny has a couple of distinguishing scars,” Wandasaid. Among those are:
n Marks where hefell and bit all the way through his tongue; and,
n Scars on hisfingers where he accidentally stuck his hand into a fan as a baby.
Meantime, boththe family and Reuss say they intend to keep on searching, askingquestions, and keeping the faith that one day they will have adefinitive answer to the nearly five-decades-old question of whathappened to Danny Barter.
“We areplanning to have a candlelight vigil for Danny in June, 2009 at PerdidoBay, where Danny went missing,” Reuss said. “Itwill be the 50th anniversary and we hope the media attention from thatwill get it national coverage.”
Maternal unclesand aunts of the child in Choctaw County, Ala., would have includedJ.B. and Dorothy Hatfield and C.L. and Zeola Thompson.
“It’sbeenso long that it seems like most people just don’t careanymore,” Wanda said. “We will never give upcaring, or hoping, that one day Danny will be found alive or else wewill find out what really happened to him.”
Persons who haveany information that might be helpful in solving this case are asked tocontact Baldwin Co. Sheriff Huey “Hoss” Mackat251-937-0210; the Mobile District FBI office at 251-438-3674; TheNational Center for Missing and Exploited Children at800-843-5678(800-THE-LOST), www.ncmec.org; or Lynn ReussatLhreuss1972@hotmail.com, or 334-759-0356: or firstname.lastname@example.org
Anewsarticle was done about Daniel on December 24, 2006. It wasprinted in the Mobile Press-Register.
Cold case remains warm for missing boy's family
Sunday, December 24, 2006
By RYAN DEZEMBER
On a Wednesday morning in June 47 years ago, Daniel Barter, six monthsshy of his 5th birthday, vanished along the banks of Perdido Bay.
In the days that followed, Danny, as he was known to his family, becamethe subject of one of the most intense searches in Baldwin County'shistory.
The manhunt included several hundred volunteers and emergencypersonnel, the U.S. Navy, a trio of prize-winningbloodhounds,helicopters, skin divers, mounted posses and even hunterswho stalked alligators and sliced open their bellies searching forsigns of the3-foot-tall boy from Mobile.
In the years since Danny disappeared from his family's Lillian-areacampsite, relatives have waited fruitlessly for answers.
"My parents are both buried but I know where, I can visit thecemetery," said Theresa White of Victoria, Texas, who wasn't yet 2 atthe time of her brother's disappearance. "With Danny, we just don'tknow."
Said Wanda McNelly of Fort Worth, Texas, who was 8 when her babybrother went missing: "We don't care if it's bad or good news, we justwant to know after all these years."
Neither McNelly nor White were on hand when the boy disappeared fromthe easternmost area of Baldwin County on June 17, 1959. The oldersister was staying with her grandmother, who lived about 100 milesnorth of Lillian. The younger sister, not that she would haveremembered anything, had been sent back to Mobile with relatives andanother young brother, Michael, the day before.
At the bayside campsite, according to family members and newsreports,were the boy's parents, Maxine and Paul Barter; three brothers,Steve,Ronald and Bobby; an uncle and two cousins.
The Barter siblings' recollections of Danny's disappearance are hazy.
"I guess it's one of those type deals where you don't remember thingsyou don't want to remember," Bobby Barter, 56, who now lives nearCorpus Christi, Texas, said in an interview.
Also, many of those involved in the search for Danny have died. But theepisode was well documented by the Press-Register. From those reports,anarrative of the disappearance and subsequent manhunt develops.
It was just about 9:45 a.m. and the Barters were preparing equipmentfor a fishing trip when they realized Danny was gone. About 15 minuteshad passed since his brothers had last seen him near the campsite'ssmall beach. He had spent the night in his uncle's car with the otherchildren and he was barefoot, still wearing the gray boxer shorts heslept in.
The search for Danny started at the beach, a few miles north of the.S.98 bridge into Florida. Danny didn't like the water, and there were nofootprints leading into the bay.
By the afternoon about 150 people were scouring the secluded and swampyarea, looking for a brown-haired, brown-eyed boy. There were statehighway patrol officers from both states, Baldwin County sheriff'sdeputies, conservation officers, Foley firefighters, about 55 enlistedmen from Pensacola Naval Air Station and volunteers.
The search was called off at dark that day, but family members werehopeful because Navy pilots had said that no body had surfaced on thebay.
The next day participation in the manhunt grew to about 500,including270 enlisted men. The search focused on five square milesaround the campsite. While mounted deputies from Escambia County, Fla.,and Baldwin County combed higher, less-dense woods, bands of 25 menwalked shoulder-to-shoulder through Lillian Swamp searching sink holesand thickets. On the bay, about a dozen boats dragged nets along thebottom.
On the third day, a Gadsden veterinarian arrived with three championbloodhounds to track Danny Barter's scent.
"These bloodhounds can pick up a scent, even in the water, up to twoweeks old, and the only places they have trailed the child is where hewas known to have been prior to the disappearance," the vet, Dr.S.R.Munroe, told reporters after a day of unsuccessful searching.
With the weekend came doubts that the boy was alive. The massive searchwound down and those who remained turned to more grim endeavors.
They tossed dynamite into pockets of deep water, hoping to jar theboy'sbody loose if it were lodged below at depths invisible todivers.Baldwin County Sheriff Taylor Wilkins Sr., who led the search,orderedrescuers to track down large alligators.
Two gators -- one 5 feet long, the other 4 -- were caught and guttedbutno remains were found. Still, there were reports of a 10-footer inthearea, and an attack by an alligator remained a viable theory.
At home in Mobile, sedated by doctors, 34-year-old Maxine Barter toldareporter in a Saturday interview that she was sure her sonwaskidnapped: "I hope now that someone did take Danny because I knowifanyone wanted him bad enough to kidnap him they would take good careofhim."
The case remained open for years, but no leads ever emerged.PaulBarter's employers, Morrison's Cafeteria, even hired thePendletonDetectives Agency, but the family never received any reportfrom theNew Orleans sleuths.
The FBI eventually got involved and the family, which had a contactinWashington, even received a telegram from Director J. EdgarHoover,pledging that the bureau would look into the matter, White said.
Of all the cases Wilkins handled in his 28 years as sheriff,thedisappearance of Danny Barter was one he could never break.Wilkinsdied in 2002.
"It liked to have driven my daddy crazy," said Taylor "Red" WilkinsJr.,a Bay Minette lawyer. "I don't believe it was a case, I thinkanalligator got that baby."
Unlike Wilkins Jr. and others who have weighed in over the years,theBarters have long dismissed the alligator theory and cling to theideathat someone stole Danny Barter to keep him as their own.
"We've never thought anything else except that he's alivesomewhere,"McNelly said.
After the disappearance, Maxine Barter told her daughters about astringof incidents occurring before Danny disappeared that involvedshadyfigures lurking around the Barters' Thrush Drive home in Mobile.Once,the sisters said, a peeping Tom was nearly caught staring intoDanny'sbedroom window.
At 4½, Danny Barter was at an age that makes it toughtoprofile a possible abductor, said Charles Pickett, a seniorcasemanager for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
"If you have a parent that lost a child they want someone younger soitcan truly be their own," said Pickett, who has been involved intheDanny Barter case for 22 years. "With pedophilia, you'reusuallylooking for someone older."
Pickett said the breadth of the search for Danny Barter, going so farasto bomb the bay and eviscerate alligators, was unheard of in thosedays,particularly in such a rural area. It's unfair to wonder iftoday'stechnology would have discovered the boy, Pickett said, butit's certainthat if a little boy vanished from a campsite nowadays,the story wouldbe national news.
Even if it didn't draw national news cameras, DannyBarter'sdisappearance was a big enough story in Mobile to linger foryears. By1963, the Barters had decided to move to Texas, where they allstillreside.
"Mother said she was just tired of people gawking and riding pastthehouse," McNelly said. "We needed a new start."
Paul Barter, who had worked for Morrison's in Mobile as a stockroommanager, started his own diner outside Fort Worth, Texas, beforedyingof a heart attack in 1965. Raising the family by herself from thenon,Maxine Barter died in 1995.
"We always hoped that before Mother passed away that we would haveanending," Bobby Barter said. "But it never happened."
Every so often someone might call family members claiming to havesomeinformation or a recollection or a theory, but, White said,everythingalways turns out to be a dead end.
Occasionally, White said, she'll contact the FBI hoping to track downafile, or she'll check in with Pickett or request anupdatedage-progression photo of her long-lost brother.
And she and McNelly keep in touch with Lynn Reuss, anOpelika-basedvolunteer for Porchlight International, which is a sortofclearinghouse for data on unsolved missing and unidentifiedpersonscases that date back as far as 1920.
White even sent the Center for Missing and Exploited Children someofher DNA should bones that may be Danny's ever turn up.
"Whatever the deal is, we just want to know," White said. "He'samissing piece of us."
The imagebelowis the newest age-progressed photo provided by the NCMEC
Robertsdale,ALRotary Club Meeting
Last month I went to a meeting with the Robertsdale,ALRotary Club in Baldwin Co. This is what my slideshow is about. I gottomeet Captain Arthur and Sheriff Mack of Baldwin Co. I also got tomeetDanny's sisters, Theresa and Wanda. They came all the way fromVictoriaand Fort Worth, TX to be there. It is always such a pleasure toput aname to a face.
We are hoping to one day know what happened to Danny and we believeheis alive somewhere out there, this is not impossible. We hope toonedayfind him.
DOB: Dec 12, 1954
Missing: Jun 18, 1959
Height: 3'0" (91 cm)
Weight: 50 lbs (23 kg)
|Daniel's photo isshown age-progressed to 53 years. He was last seen playing near thebanks of Perdido Bay, wearing only shorts. |
|ANYONE HAVING INFORMATION SHOULD CONTACT |
National Center for Missing& Exploited Children
Baldwin County Sheriff's Office(Alabama) - Missing Persons Unit