A Child Vanishes
In 1994, a young boy from Texas vanished without a trace. His family was devastated, and lives were completely destroyed. However, years later, he was found…in a different country. To say his family was thrilled to have their son back would be an understatement.
Unfortunately, this family would soon learn…be careful what you wish for.
The Pain of Loss
No one can understand the pain and heartache of losing a child. Whether through death or kidnapping, finding closure can be a hard thing to achieve and for many families, denial is the best course of action. For one family, they would finally find closure, but the truth seemed almost too good to be true.
A Troubled Family
Growing up in San Antonio, Texas, Nicholas Barclay’s home life was far from perfect. Not only did he fight with his parents all the time, but his demeanor was quite aggressive to other students, teachers, and family members.
Nothing But Trouble
Nicholas seemed to have a knack for getting into trouble. Whether it was at school or at home, his parents were at their wit’s end on what to do with him. At one point, they were even considering sending him off to military school, hoping that would straighten him out.
Going to Court
Unfortunately, before they plan their next move, Nicholas landed himself in big trouble with the law due to his disruptive behavior. With a court date planned, his parents hoped this might be the wake-up call their son needed.
Unfortunately, Nicholas would never make it to court.
A Night Out
The night before the court hearing, Nicholas decided to blow off some steam with friends. A friendly game of basketball was just what he needed and the night couldn’t have been more perfect. Just a group of boys being boys.
Gone Without A Trace
When the game finally finished, all of the boys went their separate ways home. However, Nicholas vanished before making it back to his parent’s home. No one ever saw him again.
At first, Nicholas’s family thought he might have run away. With the court date coming up the next day, they figured he might try to avoid appearing at all costs, but soon they realized something was very wrong.
Missing in Action
Soon, his family realized he was missing. Many of the counties nearby were alerted that a young boy had gone missing and flyers were distributed throughout the city. Sadly, no tips came in on where Nicholas might be. What could have possibly happened?
Three Years Later
After three years with no new information, the case was considered cold. While his family never gave up hope, it seemed time was not on their side. However, one day in 1997, Nicholas’s parents received a shocking phone call.
Lost But Now Found
The police had found Nicholas. After three years of questions and uncertainty, their son would finally be coming home. But where had he been this entire time?
Far and Away
According to the investigators, Nicholas had been discovered in a small town in Spain. He was healthy and mentally fine, and they would be putting him on a plane back to Texas. Soon, his parents would be reunited with their long, lost son.
The family was eager to learn what had happened to Nicholas. He weaved a story of being kidnapped and placed on a plane to Europe. Nicholas revealed he had been sold into a child’s sex trafficking ring and wound up in Spain. Thankfully, he had been able to escape and the police found him just in time.
Something Was Off
Despite being thrilled to have her son back, Nicholas’s mother noticed something was very off about him. Not only were his eyes a different color, but his hair as well. According to her son, his kidnappers had changed both his hair and eye color to evade authorities. Wanting desperately to have her son back, his mother believed him.
Home At Last
Despite the differences in appearance, his family believed they had their son back. Why would they doubt him or the police? However, a private investigator didn’t believe the story that was being told.
Charlie Parker had heard all about the story of the kidnapped boy who was found in Spain, and thought some of the claims just didn’t add up. For starters, he didn’t think it was possible that someone could physically change the boy’s eye color.
Another key observation from Parker was Nicholas’s attitude. For someone who had been sold into a child sex trafficking ring, he seemed perfectly fine. Any child who had gone through such horrors would show signs of trauma and most likely become withdrawn. However, Nicholas showed no signs of any impact of the entire ordeal.
Examining the Evidence
Charlie enlisted the help of fellow investigators to look into the case. While examining the before and after photos of the boy, they noticed something very alarming. You won’t believe what they discovered…
It’s All in the Ears
Just like fingerprints, a person’s ears are completely unique. When looking at the photos, the investigators realized that the ears were completely different. Who was this person that was claiming to be Nicholas?
A Complete Scam
After further investigation, the truth was revealed. The young man posing as 16-year-old Nicholas was actually a 23-year-old man from France named Frederic Bourdin. According to Interpol, he was known as “the Chameleon” since he had a history of stealing identities.
A Wanted Man
Known for impersonating missing children, Frederic was wanted by the French police. Apparently, the young man had spent most of his life pretending to be other people, assuming their identities. Nicholas Barclay had been his latest scheme.
A Striking Resemblance
So, why did Frederic choose Nicholas? Well, the police in Spain had mentioned that they looked very much alike. This planted the seed in the man’s brain to pull off a global stunt unlike anyone had ever seen before.
The Sad Truth
Charlie Parker knew that he had to break the news to the Barclay family. He had no idea how they would take the discovery, but it was unfair for them to keep believing their son had finally returned.
When Parker met with the family and revealed the information he had discovered they were in shock. How had they allowed this grown man to deceive them? Nicholas’s mother felt the most guilty and was dismayed that she hadn’t been able to recognize the man wasn’t her son.
Apparently, Nicholas’s uncle Jason didn’t believe the young man’s story from the beginning. In fact, he had always doubted his “nephew’s” story and wondered why so many aspects of it didn’t add up. Unfortunately, Jason passed away before he could share his concerns with the police.
Confronted with His Lies
When confronted with the truth of the situation, Frederic denied any wrongdoing. In fact, he told the police an outrageous story of his own. Let’s just say it’s pretty wild.
Covering Up a Murder
According to Frederic, the Barclay family knew he wasn’t their son from the very beginning. The entire reason they accepted him as their son was to cover up his murder! The story just didn’t seem very plausible, but to be sure, Charlie Parker decided to investigate things further.
Searching for Clues
Parker and a team of investigators thoroughly searched the Barclay family’s property for clues but came up with nothing. They even dug through the backyard with the hopes of finding a body, but no conclusive evidence was found.
Despite not finding any evidence in foul play, Parker didn’t believe the Barclay family when they said they had nothing to do with Nicholas’s disappearance. While the family vehemently denies any wrongdoing, there are so many strange circumstances around this case, the red flags are apparent.
To say this case is bizarre would be putting it mildly and we may never know what truly happened that night. The truth of the matter is Nicholas Barclay disappeared and the man who showed up in his place was quickly accepted into the family even though he looked nothing like the missing boy.
What really happened? That’s a question that will most likely remain unanswered.