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DNA shows Barnes not kidnapped boy

The happy ending Jerry Damman was hoping for did not happen.

Damman, 78, of Newton learned Thursday that John Barnes, a Michigan man who claimed to be Damman’s son Steven who was kidnapped in 1955 were false.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation contacted Damman Thursday with the results of a DNA test that proved Barnes and Damman’s daughter, Pamela Damman Horne were not related.

“It’s a mixed feeling,” said Damman during a phone interview Thursday night, adding that the FBI “were nice enough to speed up the DNA testing.”

“I don’t know how to explain it,” he said. “I had hopes we might find him. After all that’s gone on, (I’m) glad to have it winding down.”

Damman’s son Steven was kidnapped on Halloween in 1955 outside of a bakery in Long Island, N.Y. Damman and his now ex-wife Marilyn lived in Long Island while he was stationed at Mitchel Air Force Base. On Oct. 31, 1955, Marilyn Damman
went to the local bakery to pick up a few items and parked the stroller outside the store with 2-year-old Steven standing next to the stroller and the couple’s 7-month-old daughter Pamela strapped inside.

When Marilyn Damman returned she found the stroller missing. Eventually the stroller was found a few blocks from the store. Pamela was safe and sound still in the stroller. Young Steven was missing. Damman said law enforcement officials searched for his son, and leads were followed but went nowhere.

Fifty-four years went by without a trace of Steven. Then in March, Barnes of Kalkaska, Mich., contacted officials in Long Island making claims that he may be the long-lost toddler. The story of Barnes’ claims broke Monday afternoon and has since garnered national and global attention in the media. Barnes and Horne both appeared on several morning talk shows Thursday and the story was front page news in New York.

Damman said it’s been a “rollercoaster” since Tuesday when he was first contacted by the media about Barnes and the possibility that he may be Steven, who would now be 56 years old.

“It’s been real rough,” said the Newton farmer. “Everything together with wondering if it’s my son and all the attention. It’s been a rollercoaster.”

Damman had said Tuesday that Barnes could possibly be his son and added Thursday that he did see some family resemblance.

“I thought I could see a little resemblance last night looking at photos. Apparently not. (The DNA) has gone through two labs and they both say no,” he said.

The Newton man said he has no ill will toward Barnes.

“He may be very confused. I don’t know what to make of it,” he said of why the Michigan man made the claims in the first place. “I don’t have any better idea than you do of why he did this. I just do not know. You can see where the man might be confused.”

Damman said he does not wish to speak to Barnes now that the DNA proves he is in fact not his son.

“I really have no need now,” he said. “I would have had it turned out differently.”

Although the DNA results puts one facet of the mystery to rest it does not answer the decades old question — What happened to Steven Craig Damman? Where did he go? Who took him? Is he still alive?

“It seems very unlikely after all these years (that we’ll ever know),” Damman said.

Jessica Lowe can be contacted at 792-3121 ext. 426 or via e-mail at

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