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February 3rd, 2009
03:02 PM ET

Gone since '59

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

On its sad and growing list of missing persons, the F. B.I. has posted an unusual open case.

It’s not the circumstances that make it so strange. It’s when the victim vanished. The date? June 18. The year? 1959. Eisenhower was President. Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba. “Mack the Knife” was playing on the radio. And a boy named Daniel Barter vanished without a trace.

Daniel Barter was born in Mobile, Alabama on December 12, 1954. A little more than four years later, the toddler was with his family on a Gulf Coast camping trip along the border of Florida and Alabama.

On June 18, 1959, the F.B.I says Daniel was playing near the banks of Perdido Bay. It is the last time anyone saw the boy alive. His parents said Daniel never returned to their campsite that day. They also told investigators that their son did not like the water. Despite a massive search, authorities never found the 4-year-old. The F.B.I. indicates that he was 3 feet tall when he disappeared, and weighed 50-pounds.

Today, the only apparent lead federal agents have in their hunt for Daniel Barter is a black and white photograph, showing a cheery boy with brown hair smiling into a camera. The agency has progressed the image to render what it believes Daniel would look like if he were 52.

Take a look at the pictures.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
soundoff (107 Responses)
  1. Scott

    Hey Eileen, maybe you actually think before making presumptuous and arrogant statements because you were not there, so how can you judge the parents? As for a four year old walking around alone? You don’t know if he was actually alone or with family members a certain distance away. In 1959 it was not that big of a deal. Children were much more mature at that age and not like the little medicated trolls that they are today. Parents back then were clear-headed, hard-working and healthy. Today they are whiny fat slobs that use foul language and allow TV and game consoles to babysit their kids. In today's society, college-aged folks are no more mature than 5 year olds of 1959. Three years ago I was in France at my fiancée’s friend’s home and her friends five year old were sitting on the couch conversing with me in fluent French. This kid was more mature than more girls I have ever dated in the States. If any of you acted the way you do now, back in 1959, you would have been ostracized by family, friends, and society. Back then, white trash was not allowed to integrate into normal society and it should be this way today. But now we watch white trash on COPS, Cheaters, and a plethora of other trash TV which only encourages kids to act this way. In fact, when I was a kid in the 70s, American society, for the most part, was still pretty much disciplined. It wasn’t until the babyboomers grew up into the working world that we now have a chaotic society that rules, instead of a disciplined society.

    February 5, 2009 at 8:49 am |
  2. Joey

    I wonder how Anderson is going to work his historic pilgrimage to Jena, Mississippi into this story. I can hardly wait.

    February 5, 2009 at 8:05 am |
  3. km

    According the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC)

    85% to 90% of the 876,213 persons reported missing to America’s law enforcement agencies in 2000 were juveniles (persons under 18 years of age). That means that 2,100 times per day parents or primary care givers felt the disappearance was serious enough to call law enforcement.

    152,265 of the persons reported missing in 2000 were categorized as either endangered or involuntary.

    The number of missing persons reported to law enforcement has increased from 154, 341 in 1982 to 876,213 in 2000. That is an increase of 468%.

    So yes, obviously times were very different in 1959, as they also were as late as 1982. Kidnapping makes up less than 2 percent of all violent crimes against juveniles reported to police.

    Based on the identity of the perpetrator, there are three distinct types of kidnapping: kidnapping by a relative of the victim or "family kidnapping" (49 percent), kidnapping by an acquaintance of the victim or "acquaintance kidnapping" (27 percent), and kidnapping by a stranger to the victim or "stranger kidnapping" (24 percent).

    Statistics regarding America’s missing children are staggering. According to the most comprehensive missing child statistics ever compiled, every year in America there are :

    114,600 Attempted Abductions;
    4,600 Non-Family Abductions;
    450,700 Runaways;
    438,200 Lost/Injured/Otherwise Missing;
    354,100 Family Abductions;
    127,100 Thrownaway Children.

    Since 1997, the AMBER Alert program has been credited with the safe recovery of 426 children.

    February 5, 2009 at 5:27 am |
  4. JGM

    An question was posted earlier, "Why is there renewed interest in this case?' There is a change that has come over America. There is a huge and genuine interest in finding these lost people, dead or alive. And the Police Departments that have spent countless hours investigating them would dearly love to resolve them happily. In many instances that is not the case, but to solve them, lay the person to rest if that is the resolution, is the goal. The victims deserve that, the families deserve that, the detectives, the CSI and the police all deserve that, and so do you and I.

    February 5, 2009 at 3:24 am |
  5. Tamatha

    I have read the comment – yes- things were a LOT different back then. The parents I am sure have been through a lot- however- I read the site and maybe they were used to being on the water, I know children were allowed to wander around some. I was the youngest of 4 children- when we went to the river- we stayed very close. Even then- we were closely watched – my father was a State Penitentiary guard- so he knew of the things that could possibly happen- more often than you think. He did not tell us- but kept a very close watch- my mother knew where we were – she kept a close watch on us.It does not seem quite right- depends on how the parents reacted at the time- whether it would be suspicious or not. The mother sounds very sincere- but quick to think a couple probably liked him- since she no longer thought he had drown. It just sounds odd to me. There were a lot of perverts then too- not as weird as today, of course- but there are a lot more people now also. Even in the '70's people seem to think it was relaxed- it was not that relaxed! That is when a lot of serial killers, wives missing, -police take the word of family too easily- or friends who give them alibis. I feel bad for the family- but maybe someone at the store liked him- all the other things could have happened, but I still think he would have screamed or they would have noticed- I am not sure the whole story is told here- but maybe that it all they know- someone taking him sounds likely. Whatever happened – I feel sorry for him and the family- but I think he might still be alive.

    February 4, 2009 at 10:45 pm |
  6. Marci B

    I would like to personally thank everyone that has sent their prayers out to our family. My family is a great family and would like to find my missing uncle one day. No I am only 28 and yes times have changed but I did know my grandmother (my grandfather pasted away before I was born) and she was the most awesome lady you could ever meet. We lost my grandmonther (Danny's mother) and my father (Danny's brother) many years ago and I know that they never gave up hope. So as the next generation we are trying to close this case and find our lost uncle. Please keep us the Barter family in your prayer cause I believe that we will find him alive and well one day. We are having a Candle Light Vigil in June please feel free to come on out and meet our wonderful family.

    Thank you,
    Marci Barter Myers

    February 4, 2009 at 10:07 pm |
  7. JANICE

    Hi I agree with SHELBY
    I was raising children back then .YOU DID NOT HAVE T V to.baby sit. You had to wash clothes, .dishes., floors and all those things .Kids were taught to stay where they were told . They were not the medicated little puppets like they are now. Most of them by the age of four could be left to fend for themselves .They could get their on snacks. Fix their own juice ,dress themselves In the south they were potty trained with not many accidents.They could realize the consequences of not following instruction Believe me they did not sass their elders or strike out at them. Mine did not whine and scream in public areas .They wore what they were told .No they were not beaten .they were rewarded if they obeyed but were not rewarded if they misbehaved. Rewards were not given if jobs were no accomplished so that their feelings would not be warped .
    I am sure that this child was where he was told to be .IF he left ,he was probably led off by an older person.because he was taught to mind adults.He may have fallen in a hole or gone deep into the woods.He could have been snake bitten or he may have hidden in a hollow tree.

    February 4, 2009 at 7:51 pm |
  8. Bob

    This is indeed a sad story but makes antone think this boy is still alive?
    Come on. Most abductions lead to death and that's what is 99% certain in this case. Sorry, but those are the facts.

    February 4, 2009 at 7:47 pm |
  9. Terry

    What people need to keep in mind when questioning where the parents were when a 4 year old boy disappeard is that it was a time when children were safe to be on their own outside of their home. I can remember having breakfast, jumping on my bike, telling my parents where I was going and never having to worry that something might happen to me. Today a child isn't even safe sleeping in his/her bedroom. People today are just plain sick. No respect for other people, perverted. never have to face penalties for their actions. Its obvious to me that the family had nothing to do with is disappearance if they are still maintaining a web site and searching for this man.

    February 4, 2009 at 7:11 pm |
  10. gabby

    It was indeed a different world 50 years ago. Yes there were crazies and serial killers but no one knew about them. We didn't have the internet and the constant barrage of news we have today. This little boy was born a month before I was. As a child I always played outside all day long without parental supervision – as did all my little friends. And, get this – we walked to and from school, sometimes alone and sometimes with friends. We never knew about kidnappers and serial killers much less child molesters. I went camping many times with my parents and siblings and always went exploring by myself. It's just what people did then. To blame and judge the parents by today's standards is ridiculous and pointless. Most likely the worst thing little Daniel worried about was getting his shoes wet and getting in trouble for it.

    February 4, 2009 at 6:53 pm |
  11. imthatguy

    ya'll are idiots. you want to know why he may have been alone, were his parents involved, have his parents been suspects? all your questions, i guaruntee you that the FBI looked into it 50 years ago. Thats why it has been re-opened, its 50 years old.

    February 4, 2009 at 6:42 pm |
  12. Jo Ann

    Letting a child that young out of your site was no more excusable in 1959 than it is in 2009. Water, woods, strangers, an area he wasn't familiar with..... It boggles the mind.

    February 4, 2009 at 6:03 pm |
  13. Rachel

    my dad was born in 52 and when he was 3 years old I believe, he was watching his adopted brother bill get on the bus to go to school and he always looked up to bill, all he could say was bill and bus, but he followed that school bus 10 miles trying to get back to bill. By the time my grandma realized he was gone a man that barely knew my grandpa recognized him and took him home. There was an article in the newspaper and everything, so times were different back then, if a little boy would follow a bus 10 miles today he would be raped, killed, or hit by a car. I'm not saying that he shouldn't have had some supervison but it was a different world back then. we just need to stop being so judgemental because no one knows what happened, we are getting the censored version. Just pray and hope that the family finds out what happened. That is my only wish.

    February 4, 2009 at 5:51 pm |
  14. Cari

    Theresa:

    Please let me apologize for the people who have ridiculed your family. Apparently, they have no idea how different times once were. I hope some day you find Danny, or at least find out what happened to him.

    Take care -

    Cari

    February 4, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  15. Amazed...

    You people crack me up . . . you should feel ashamed of yourself, there's a poor kid that's either not alive any more, or, was abducted and probably doesn't know any better that he's living with his abducter. And to think that all you guys can do is sit here and criticize the parents . . . c'mon, you gotta be kidding me. Have some respect for their loss, imagine how you would feel if the tables were turned! what evidence do you have that shows the parents are responsible??

    Until you have some, I would suggest you keep your comments to yourself and have some respect.

    February 4, 2009 at 5:02 pm |
  16. h

    well if the family have been ruled out, then he likely fell victum to henry lee lucas or some other nutcase in the area

    February 4, 2009 at 4:51 pm |
  17. Bob

    Jen: I think it's a little late for your holier-than-thou moralizing.

    February 4, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  18. Kent

    Oh brother. 50 years old. shouldn't they be working on something more current. if there was an illegal act committed, the perportraitors are probably dead.

    February 4, 2009 at 4:34 pm |
  19. M

    Hope they find him.

    And there weren't as many crazy people as today. There was probably 50-60% as many even if the percentage was the same since there were far fewer people back then. USA 1959 = 170 mil, today close to 300 mil

    February 4, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  20. Jay Heimdal

    Alligator got him.

    February 4, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  21. Lydia

    Check out the Doe Network online. This story along with hundreds of other unexplained disappearances are listed. It is sad to see so many stories, which most are probably related to a crime, go unsolved. There are also thousands of unidentified victims listed with some pictures, sketches, and personal effects they were found to possess when they were found. Who knows maybe you could help solve some of them.

    February 4, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  22. Florida gal

    One word – gator.

    February 4, 2009 at 4:26 pm |
  23. suzanne

    It was 1959. things were alot different in those days. people were more trusting and honest. I remember growing up in the 70"s & 80"s me and my sister would stay gone ALL DAY playing in the creek.

    February 4, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  24. Sanity

    Today's helicopter parents who never let their child out of their reach, even when he or she goes to college, are a new phenomenon. Yes, people DID let four-year-olds out of their sight, back before they were driven into a frenzy of fear by sensationalism. And y'know, we grew up just fine. In fact, we didn't shoot up our schools, we didn't commit suicide because someone de-friended us on MySpace, and we didn't expect to have our hands held every minute of every day.

    Looking around, seeing a country where my fellow citizens are not just willing but eager to trade their liberty for empty promises of security, as if they were going back to their childhoods as cosseted, over-protected children, I don't think the change has been for the better.

    February 4, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  25. sadies mom

    Over the course of years I've seen many parents leave their children unattended in public places, especially grocery stores where they can be snatched in a manner of seconds. So many parents seem completely unaware of the dangers, and sometimes even 'unconscious' of the dangerous world around them as they go about their shopping. My mother would have NEVER taken her eyes off of us for one second in this setting. I'm shocked at the complacency!

    February 4, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  26. Tara

    To those who are judging the parents...

    You might want to read the webpage that the boy's sister posted before making comments about leaving the child alone. The story listed there is very different from the one posted in this article. I do not know which is correct, but his sister's website suggests that the child wandered off while his father was getting ready to take some of the children fishing. Not that he was left alone on the water's edge. I agree that the latter would be very foolish, but I do not know which story is true.

    February 4, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  27. Laura

    Jen, times were totally different then. Did you never see "The Andy Griffith Show"? Opie (played by Ronny Howard) was allowed to run the town and he was only about five or so, it seemed. Admittedly, I would probably have not allowed a child to play near water without watching him but that's because of the way I've been sensitized by the media. Heck, I was with my two neices, ages eight and 11, on July 4th on Beal Street in Memphis, Tennessee, and could not relax because I was so afraid someone would snatch up those cute little blue-eyed blondes! But that's in this age of awareness. And, in the 1950s, there were not as many people in the US as there are now! And, heck, the number of abductions by strangers hasn't increased, according to one person here. I don't really blame the parents – it was a totally different time and a totally different mindset. If you live away from large urban areas, then and now, you thought/think differently than those in those large urban areas.

    February 4, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  28. mufon

    two words: alien abduction

    February 4, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  29. Jay

    Eileen February 4th, 2009 10:48 am ET

    I agree 100% with what Mary said.

    Why was this 4 year old child allowed to play near the banks of the bay, or anywhere for that matter, without being watched by one or both of his parents?
    ____________________________________________________

    Eileen, (anyone else with the same question)
    You have to remember, this was 1959. There wasn't massive paranoia like there is now with regards to kidnapping, pedofiles, etc.

    From what I'm gathering in this article, the parents had lots of other children as well. They obviously had their hands full. They made an assumption, (which was a huge mistake on their part). That their child was nearby and safe.

    The sad thing is, this happened almost 50 years ago, so the odds that Danny's family will find out what truely happened to him may never occur.

    February 4, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  30. MD

    Mary,
    Let's not cloud the issue of missing persons with gun possession or ownership. Legal and probably many illegal gun owners are hardly brain dead. IF anyone abducted a 5 year old, i doubt they needed a gun to do it.

    RIP Danny. God bless the Barter family. Missing persons stats are highly against his likely survival. Watch yours kida out there folks!

    February 4, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  31. Mike Trautman

    I feel bad for the family, but like so many others have said YOU DON"T LET A 4 YEAR OLD OUT OF YOUR SIGHT plain and simple. On the other hand does anyone realize that 2000 children go missing every single day just in the U.S.A.- No typo- 2000 a day. Where are all these poor innocent children. There ought to be complete outrage in this country and what is being done about it? You touch a kid- you get executed-We execute enough of these sickos and maybe someday we can put a real dent in the missing children horror story that goes on every day in America. If we had 2000 servicemen or women dying every day or 2000 people dying from some illness what do you think the reaction would be in this country? Enough already. We need to do something about this national disgrace

    February 4, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  32. William

    I was 7 in 59 and yes it was very common for kids to be let loose and play unsupervised.I remember Halloweens back in those years my parents used to let me and my younger sister go by ourselves and didnt think a thing about it.Sad to say thats a different story nowdays but it wasnt in 59 oh how i miss those days so long ago and i agree Danny is long gone RIP little one.

    February 4, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  33. carolyn

    like this boy, I was born in 54 also. Times were so different. Kids could play in the street and the people driving by would watch out for them. My mom and dad let me go outside by myself all the time. It was safe and a lot less populated back then.

    February 4, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  34. Linda in Los Angeles

    1959 in Southern California, there were hardly any dangers. My brother and I were left alone to play with rocks in the desert as young children while my parents did some mining a few hundred yards away. Same wherever we camped. We were told what to beware of and minded our parents. We did target shooting in the desert with my Dad (.357 mag and 22 rifle), and were told not to touch these guns when the parents were not around. These days, kids do not listen to their parents, even if their parents do talk with them and yes, it is a much more dangerous world. The reason this family may think that Daniel is still alive is because children were still being sold on the black market to adoptive parents in the 50's. The alternative is too awful to think of. My best regards to the family.

    February 4, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  35. Pat

    Things were different back in the 50's but you never ever leave a child alone at the water. It doesn't matter if it's a lake. pond, pool or ocean, it's a definite no-no.

    February 4, 2009 at 3:46 pm |
  36. Sheila

    He was the 3rd child of 7 childrens... Times now are very different from 50 years ago. 50 years ago a lot of childrens play around without adult supervision. Times were very different... I'm very sorry for what happend and wish that this family find some answers...

    February 4, 2009 at 3:38 pm |
  37. J

    Why are they so sure it was an abduction?? No mention of a suspect, no credible sightings, no ransom request, nothing? Given the environment (it's not like we're talking about a shopping mall), it sounds more likely there was some accident and this poor baby is long gone. I hate to make this poor family's pain worse... but why wouldn't you watch your child under these kinds of circumstances? OK, so MAYBE there were not as many "crazies" in the 1950s... but the beach?? And the swamp?? Who does this? Was the water mysteriously less dangerous in the 1950s? And he can't have drowned because he was "afraid of the water"? The poor child could have chased his toy into the water and fallen over, or tripped, or any number of awful scenarios. It doesn't matter how many divers they had looking for him, we are talking about a virtually limitless search area. You could be on a desert island with no possibility of stranger abduction, and any reasonable person would still keep a close watch on a four year old.

    February 4, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
  38. Ed Mahan

    Why did the FBI put THIS case on their open list? It certainly is not the only child missing without explanation for many years. The story really needs to fill in that particular blank. Do they have some reason to believe this is not just another sad story?

    February 4, 2009 at 3:35 pm |
  39. Melissa

    Went to the site and read your story. I was wondering, were there any drawings of what Danny would have looked like in his teens, 20s or 30s? It stated that a brother had died several years back, could this possibly have happened to Danny too?

    February 4, 2009 at 3:27 pm |
  40. Julie

    Jen, you obviously were not around in 1959. There may have been as many crazy people then, although I highly doubt it. It's not that we didn't talk about it; it would never have occured to anyone that it was even possible. There wasn't a mass killer until Charles Whitman in Texas in the 60s. The term "serial killer" was 20 years from being coined. All kids played outside without a parent watching. Depending on your age, there were limits to how far you could go, and because we respected out parents back then, we followed the rules. But the bottom line is that good parents didn't have to keep an eagle-eye on their kids and 99.9% of good kids were free to play and explore without fear (or knowledge) of perverts. You can be as self-righteous and judgmental as you want, but just know that you are doing it from an age that has no experience with the innocence of the 50s.

    February 4, 2009 at 3:24 pm |
  41. brenda

    Dennis Martin disappeared June 14, 1969, while on a camping trip with his family at Spence Field in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Dennis disappeared just six days before his seventh birthday. The search for him started just 3-5 minutes after he went missing but no trace of him has ever been found. I was just a child when it happened but I still think about it from time to time.

    February 4, 2009 at 3:22 pm |
  42. buck otte

    How about searching caves, quicksand,deep ravines in that area? A child once fell into hannibal cave thru a small top side hole....I think.

    February 4, 2009 at 3:14 pm |
  43. Jamie

    Why was he allowed to go about alone? It was a different time. As a small child in AL back in the late '40s and early '50s, I was allowed the run of the woods and towns we lived in. When someone from a rural home set a pack of dogs on me (I went back thru the trees like a monkey) I didn't mention it for fear I'd not be allowed out again.

    It's possible that such a tiny body would be overlooked or that it lies far from the searched area. It's possible (less so) that he's still alive. If you're alive, Daniel, please let your family know, no matter the circumstances.

    February 4, 2009 at 3:13 pm |
  44. DM

    I'm about the same age as Danny, and I was allowed to roam freely throughout my neighborhood from the time I was able to toddle. I realize that he disappeared from a campsite, but we don't know if this is somewhere that was very familiar to the family – if it was familiar, he was probably given more freedoms that seem appropriate to today's reader. I'm just a bit reluctant to immediately point a finger of suspicion at the parents. My heart goes out to his family, regardless of what happened, and I hope that something surfaces to solve this mystery.

    February 4, 2009 at 3:12 pm |
  45. BILL F

    do peoples noses really change that much with age

    February 4, 2009 at 3:09 pm |
  46. Brian

    Are you all kids. I wasnt born until 1960, but I remember play on the beaches of S. Fla without my parents. We left our keys in the car until the mid 1970's.

    Yes we live in a dangerous world. I know that better than most, but in 1959 our country was much more inocent. Heck remember "duck and cover" if you saw of a nuclear blast while in school.

    February 4, 2009 at 3:06 pm |
  47. Chris

    My heart goes out to his family, but with all do respect, it's been 50 years. How about the FBI concentrate on finding Osama Bin Laden, before he tries to kill my 4 year old.

    February 4, 2009 at 3:02 pm |
  48. Mickie

    I agree with Jen – no matter what year, you do not let a 4-yr-old unattended near water (especially with alligators). I was around in the 50's and I was a mother in the early 60's and I did not let my son at 4 or even 8 yrs. old got near water unless I could see him. I do not know what happened to this young boy, but the fact that the dogs could not even pick up a scent (even if it stopped along the way) is suspicious to me. A dog should have been able to pick up his scent if he had been at the campsite with the family at all.

    February 4, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  49. Kris

    Wow, I can not believe all the visciousness being said! These poor people lost a son ,and a brother.Times were different back in the day ,but, I guess mostly everyone is implying that the police were not able to run a thorough investigation!! Listen folks, it doesn't matter when this child went missing, his family should have the same rights as others who are looking for their lost loved ones.Cut them some slack, offer some support, and be very glad you are not in their position. I do hope you have great success in finding your brother Ms.Barter White.

    February 4, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  50. Gargaryun

    It doesn't say He was "out of sight", just "the last ime He was seen"...it was 1959, & that WAS a different era...it wouldn't indicate the parents were remiss for letting a 4 yr old play close by, especially if His dislike/fear of the water indicated He would stay back from the shores' edge...unfortunately, I think a 'gator is probably the likeliest answer, even with the dynamiteing, one in an underwater den could have been killed without the remains coming to the surface.

    February 4, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
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