KALKASKA, Mich. - The same chubby cheeks. The same round face and bright blue eyes. And, most important, the faint scar on his chin.
John Barnes does indeed bear a striking resemblance to photos of a 2-year-old boy who was snatched from outside a bakery on Long Island in 1955. And he hopes DNA tests will confirm the suspicions he has harbored virtually his entire life - that the couple who raised him were not his biological parents.
"I'm really glad that I'm finally finding all of this out, finding out who I'm related to. Because I didn't want to get old and die and not know," Barnes, a laborer in his 50s, said yesterday.
The idea that Barnes was kidnapped five decades ago has "flabbergasted" the family he has known for his entire life. Asked about a possible abduction, the man who raised Barnes called the idea "a bunch of foolishness."
"I'm his dad," said Richard Barnes, who shook his head and replied, "No, no," when asked by a reporter if he had kidnapped John Barnes.
The woman who grew up as his sister said she was willing to undergo DNA testing to prove they are biological siblings. "I can't begin to know why he would think this," said Cheryl Barnes, 50, who lives with her father. "Everybody in my family thinks John looks just like my dad."
Barnes said he never really bonded with the mother and father who raised him. He said they didn't look like him, and they just didn't seem like family.
"They would say, 'Oh, you look like your Grandpa So-and-so or your Uncle So-and-so.' But they never had any pictures to show me to compare it with. . . . I just had a hunch that something was fishy," Barnes said.
"I never asked them if they kidnapped me. I asked them why I was so different from them."
John Barnes said the woman who raised him hinted before her death about a decade ago that she was not his biological mother.
Barnes began his own investigation and found some potential answers on the Internet - a few pictures that led him to conclude he could be the missing toddler, Stephen Damman.
Barnes said pictures of the missing boy's mother when she was a young adult resembled what he looked like at the same age.
The mother, Marilyn Damman, left the boy and his 7-month-old sister waiting outside a bakery while she went inside to shop on Oct. 31, 1955, according to police and news accounts at the time.