DNA Test Shows Michigan Man is Not Missing L.I. Boy

Barnes says he has long suspected the couple who raised him are not his real parents

By Victoria Cavaliere
|  Friday, Jun 19, 2009  |  Updated 5:01 AM PDT
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DNA Test Shows Michigan Man is Not Missing L.I. Boy

AP

This 2-picture combo shows Stephen Damman, left, in an undated file photo and John Barnes, June 17, 2009. Barnes is hoping DNA tests will confirm that he is Damman, who was snatched from outside a bakery on New York's Long Island in 1955.

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DNA testing has confirmed that a 54-year-old Michigan man is not a toddler kidnapped in Long Island in 1955, the FBI said today.

Testing showed John Barnes of Kalkaska Mich., is not Stephen Damman, who disappeared at age 2 from outside an East Meadow bakery while his mother shopped.

Barnes said today that he thought his dying mother was trying to tell him that she was not, in fact, his real mom.

"She was trying to tell me that, but she was dying of lung cancer," John Barnes told the "TODAY" show in an exclusive interview Thursday. "She was on a bunch of different drugs -- morphine -- but that's what she was trying to do, I believe."

Barnes' story has made national headlines this week, as he insisted he is far different from the family that raised him.

"I didn't fit in with my family," he told the "TODAY" show. "I didn't look like them. They were all dark-complected -- brown eyes, dark hair -- they were shorter than I was, they have different personalities. I've always known that, and that's what got (my curiosity) started a long time ago."

But the Michigan man who raised him, Richard Barnes, insisted all along that he's the biological father, and dismissed any other speculation as "a bunch of foolishness."

"I'm his dad," Richard Barnes said on Wednesday. He replied, "No, no," when asked whether he had kidnapped John Barnes.

Cheryl Barnes, Richard's daughter, said she was "flabbergasted" by her brother's claims and is willing to undergo DNA testing to prove she and John are biological siblings.

"I can't begin to know why he would think this," said Cheryl, 50. "Everybody in my family thinks John looks just like my dad."

John Barnes said he was not looking to stir up trouble with his claims that he was the missing toddler.

"I don't want to see anybody go to jail," he said. "I just want to find out where I came from. Right now I'm pretty confident that those tests will come back positive," he said just hours before the tests proved the opposite.

Police in Nassau County, N.Y., have said a Michigan man contacted their office in the past few months saying he believed he was the missing toddler. Barnes said the FBI took a sample of his DNA via a cheek swab in March.

Barnes, a laborer, his wife and their dog live on a dirt road in Kalkaska, almost 200 miles northwest of Detroit. It's not known when his DNA test results will come back.

Watch the full "TODAY" show interview below:

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