Whenever a person goes missing, it’s absolutely heartbreaking. Friends and family members want to keep hope alive for as long as possible until they can finally find some type of closure. But, sometimes, the closure they receive is too good to be the actual truth.

When a young boy from Texas went missing in 1994, his family was distraught. A few years later, however, he was found—in a different country. His family was ecstatic by the turn of events, but it soon turned out that not all was as it seemed…

 Nicholas Barclay was a young boy from San Antonio, Texas, who had a troubled family life. According to those closest to him, he frequently fought with his parents and teachers, and he would often act out aggressively toward those around him.

Nicholas had even gotten himself into enough trouble that he had a court hearing scheduled due to his disruptive behavior. Little did his family know, however, Nicholas would never make it to the hearing.

The night before Nicholas was scheduled to appear in court, he went out to play basketball with a few friends. After the game was over, the boys all returned home, but Nicholas was never seen again…

Nicholas’s family initially assumed he ran away to avoid the court hearing, but as time went on, they realized he was missing. Nearby counties were alerted, and flyers were distributed, but sadly no one was able to offer any clues as to his whereabouts.

Finally, on an otherwise normal morning in 1997—a full three years after Nicholas went missing—the Barclay family received a phone call from authorities that left them stunned. The police said they’d found Nicholas!

They explained that a young man claiming to be Nicholas was found in a small town in Spain. It was the miracle the family had been awaiting for three exhausting years. Nicholas was immediately put on a plane and sent back to Texas to reunite with his eager family.

Both the family and police desperately wanted to find out what happened three years earlier. Nicholas claimed that he’d been kidnapped and immediately put on a plane to Europe where he was sold into a child sex-trafficking ring. Police in Spain found him, he said, only after he’d escaped.

 It’s understandable that such a traumatic event would change a person, but the boy’s mother immediately noticed some off: his hair and eye color were, oddly, different. Nicholas claimed his captors dyed his hair and medically changed the color of his eyes to hide his identity.

 As unusual as the differences were, his family firmly believed their son had returned home, even if some family members had their doubts. However, one private investigator named Charlie Parker found the whole story suspicious…

Charlie didn’t believe the kidnappers were physically able to change the boy’s eye color. Also, if what Nicholas said was true, the horrific events he lived through would have most certainly caused him to become withdrawn—but that wasn’t the case at all.

Charlie and other investigators closely examined photos of Nicholas before and after his alleged kidnapping. Besides the eye and hair change, he noticed one more difference that resulted in an alarming breakthrough…

It was the ears! Ears, like fingerprints, are completely unique to an individual, and this young man’s ears didn’t match the boy who disappeared three years earlier. But, if the person they found wasn’t Nicholas Barclay, who exactly were investigators talking to?

It was actually a 23-year-old Frenchman named Frederic Bourdin who was posing as the 16-year-old boy. Frederic was also known as “the Chameleon” by Interpol, the world’s largest police organization.

Frederic was a wanted criminal who impersonated missing children, and over the course of his life, he had masqueraded as hundreds of different personalities—his most recent being Nicholas Barclay.

Frederic apparently got the idea to impersonate the missing boy when the Spanish police who found him said he bore a striking resemblance. That was all he needed to hear to pull off his next stunt.

Charlie Parker immediately told the Barclay family what he and the rest of the investigators discovered. They were in complete dismay at the news. How had they not realized this grown man wasn’t actually Nicholas?

Nicholas’s uncle Jason apparently began to doubt the authenticity of his “nephew” after he arrived home; shortly before Jason was interviewed, however, he’d passed away. After Frederic’s outing by police, the Frenchman proposed his own outrageous theory…

Frederic claimed the Barclay family knew he wasn’t their son all along, and the reason they accepted him was to cover up his murder! As absurd as it was, Charlie Parker still wanted to investigate the claim. Was the young boy’s aggressive nature too much for his family?

Charlie never found conclusive evidence that the Barclays had a hand in Nicholas’s disappearance. He even want as far as digging through the Barclays’ backyard in search of a body, but he came up empty-handed.

Even though he hadn’t found any substantial evidence, Charlie didn’t quite believe the Barclay family was completely innocent in Nicholas’s disappearance. The family, of course, said otherwise, but with all the mysterious circumstances surrounding the case, no one could be sure…

This case is far more than just bizarre, it’s almost unreal. Who knows if the truth behind what happened to Nicholas Barclay will ever come out, but until then, Charlie Parker will keep looking for clues.

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