Where is Nicholas Barclay?

Emily Aiken ’20, Editor-in-Chief

On June 13, 1994 in San Antonio, Texas the Barclay family woke up to another day. Little did they know, this day would change their lives forever. Their son, Nicholas Barclay, went to play basketball about a mile away from the family home. The last anyone had heard from him was when he called his older brother Jason to get a ride home. Jason told him that he did not want to wake their mother and told him to walk home.

His family was not worried at first as, Nicholas had a history of running away often. He was a troublesome 13-year-old, and he had a history of getting in trouble with the law. He had three illegal tattoos of various letters on his body. The day after his disappearance, he had a court hearing scheduled to determine whether or not he could stay with his family due to the trouble he had caused previously. His family believed this was reason enough he would run away. After a few days, however, his family began to worry and this became a missing persons case.

Months had passed and there has been no trace of Nicholas. One day, the police received a phone call from his brother Jason. He said that he saw Nicholas trying to break in to the family garage, but when the police arrived, there was no sign of an attempted break-in, or Nicholas. Jason claimed that Nicholas ran away when he realized he was caught.

Three years later, and Nicholas still had not come home. Then, the American police receive a phone call from the police in Spain. They said a 16-year-old boy was found in a Spanish village huddled up in a phone booth, scared. The police determined he was Nicholas Barclay. The boy did not remember much about his life, but he told them he was kidnapped and sold to a child sex ring.

As soon as the Barclay family heard the news, they sent Nicholas’ sister, Carey Gibson, to Spain in the hopes that she could identify Nicholas. As soon as she saw him, she was excited and hugged him. Those tears of joy would soon be tears of anguish.

His family awaited his arrival, but they had a very strange reaction. His mother seemed confused, not excited, and as for Jason, he was not there.

Many people were skeptical of Nicholas. His hair was darker. His eyes were darker. And he had a French accent. He explained that this was because his captors forbade him to speak English. He also had no memory of the family. He was shown pictures of family members and did not remember their names. Even with all these differences, his family accepted him with open arms and welcomed him back.

One day Nicholas agreed to do a television interview. Private investigator, Charlie Parker noticed something peculiar. His ears. They were different. He pulled up a picture of him as a child and examined the differences in the ears. Ears do not change over time, but his did. This made Parker suspicious. When he told the Barclay family, they did not believe him. They wanted to believe this boy was actually their son.

But he wasn’t. Parker got a court order to take Nicholas’ fingerprints and the results were this was not indeed their son. This was a 23-year-old man pretending to be Nicholas. His name is Frederic Bourdin. He is a French man who had an obsession with impersonating young children. He later received time in prison for this, but continued to impersonate young children even in prison.

Nicholas to this day, has not been found, and his disappearance remains a mystery. Some believe that the family had something to do with his disappearance, due to their strange reactions to his arrival home. Many pose the question: how do you not notice that a 23-year-old man is impersonating your son? While in custody, Bourdin posed a theory: why would the Barclay family accept him into their home when it was clear that he was not their son, unless they had something to hide?

Photo courtesy of Direct Expose

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