There are thousands of children across the world who are currently missing. I'm not a parent, and I can't even begin to imagine the agony of not knowing where your child is for a minute, let alone a lifetime. Here are five cases of children who have been missing for decades.
1. Cheryl Hanson
On the evening of May 31, 1974, 7-year-old Cheryl Hanson wanted to walk the ten minutes to her cousin’s house for a sleepover. Her mom initially said no, but ultimately caved. Cheryl left her home around 5;30 that evening, but never made it to her cousin’s house and hasn’t been seen since.
More than 400 people came out to search for Cheryl in her hometown of Aurora, Ontario — but these searches led to nothing. A man named Donald Everingham eventually confessed to her murder and drew police a map to where he claimed he’d buried her. But searches in that area turned up nothing, and he’d given details that ran contradictory to the case files. His confession was later refuted, but as of 2016 he remains a person of interest.
Cheryl Hanson is a white female who was 4 feet tall and 51 pounds at the time of her disappearance, with wavy blonde hair and blue eyes. She was last seen wearing a red coat, a brown sweater and white shoes and carrying a paper bag with pajamas inside.
If you have any information about this case, you can contact the York Regional Police Cold Case Unit at 1-866-876-5423.
2. George Barksdale
4-year-old George Barksdale was last seen on the evening of April 21, 1969. He was sitting on the steps of the House of Prayer for All People Church in West Baltimore, but it’s not clear what happened to him after this. He’s never been seen or heard from again. Investigators searched over 60 houses in the area and questioned almost 200 people. But George seemed to have vanished without a trace.
Today, police believe George was kidnapped. Online speculation ranges from the theory that he was illegally adopted to the idea that he wandered off, was injured or killed somehow and his body has never been found. At least one person suggested that he was the victim of a hit and run and the driver hid his body.
George Barksdale is a black male who was 2 feet 6 inches tall at the time of his disappearance, with black hair and brown eyes. He has a birthmark on his left calf and was last seen wearing corduroy pants, a red white and blue polo and a pullover shirt. He went by the nickname ‘Sputnik’ and would be 56 years old if alive today.
If you have any information about George’s case, you can contact the Baltimore Police Department at 410-396-2525.
3. Billy Gaffney
Billy Gaffney was also four years old when he was last seen in his apartment building in Brooklyn, New York on February 11, 1927. He was last seen playing in the hall with two of his neighbors. One of the neighbors, three-year-old Billy Beatton, was later found on the roof and said the “boogey man” had taken Billy. He described this man as a slim, older man with gray hair and a mustache. Billy Gaffney was seen later that day by a streetcar driver in Brooklyn who said he was with an elderly man with a mustache.
At first, police believed Billy had simply wandered off. But the weeks and months went by with few answers, if any. There were some alleged sightings, including one all the way in South Dakota, but no solid leads would come for over six years.
In 1934, 64-year-old Albert Fish was arrested for the murder of 10-year-old Grace Budd, who had disappeared in 1928. After leading police to her body, he was convicted of her murder and sentenced to death the following year. At his trial, the streetcar driver who had seen Billy the day he went missing identified Fish as the elderly man he’d been with.
Fish initially denied knowing anything about Billy’s disappearance, but later confessed to killing him. Police were skeptical of this claim at first, but Billy’s case was later closed and is no longer being investigated.
And Billy’s mom was also skeptical of Fish’s involvement. She even visited him in prison in 1935, but he refused to talk to her. For years after his disappearance, Billy’s parents set a place for him at the table every year on Christmas — which was also his birthday.
5. Andy Sims
Note: Some sources referred to Andy by his first name, Scott.
Scott Andreas Douglass was born on July 1, 1950. His parents divorced when he was very young, and his mom later remarried a man named William Sims. Andy and his older brother, Donald, ended up taking their new stepdad’s last name.
By 1961, the family was living in Wichita Falls, Texas, but William Sims, who was in the National Guard, had been stationed in Louisiana due to the Berlin Crisis. On Saturday, December 9, 11-year-old Andy was at home with his brother while their mom was at work.
Some time between 12:45 and 1 pm, Andy went outside to play. When his mom got home around 2:30, Andy was no longer there. Donald and some other family members went out to look for him, but couldn’t find him. Around 8:00 that night, the police were called.
Police and volunteers would continue to search for Andy. Early investigators followed up on a sighting that put him at Lake Wichita around 3 pm the day he was last seen. They also interviewed people in the area who had “a liking for children,” as stated by chron.com. But none of this led anywhere.
So what happened? Was Andy kidnapped by a predator, sexual or otherwise? Did he die of exposure on the cold and rainy day that was December 9 and his body hasn’t been found yet? Whatever the situation, Andy’s disappearance is the oldest cold case in Wichita Falls, and he hasn’t been seen or heard from in over sixty years.
Andy Sims is a white male who was 4 feet 11 inches tall and 90 pounds at the time of his disappearance, with blonde hair and blue eyes. He wears glasses and was last seen wearing a black turtleneck, a black coat, blue jeans and a black cap. If alive today, he would be 71 years old.
If you have any information about this case, you can contact Detective John Laughlin of the Wichita Falls Police Department at 940-761-7762. You can also reach him by e-mail at email@example.com.