Can parents imagine a greater horror than having their child suddenly vanish?
The abduction of a young life leaves a mother or father terribly suspended, caught between the terrible possibilities of an unknown future and their present helplessness. They must find themselves wondering if their young ones are safe or suffering, healthy or harmed.
There’s one thing they know for sure, though: Their babies can’t be living normal lives — right?
Well, in the case of Steve Carter, a normal life was exactly what he was living. Around 2010, the 30-something man was living in Philadelphia and selling software for a living.
Then, while watching a CNN story one day, his life changed forever. He saw a piece about a woman who solved her own kidnapping.
“CNN covered Carlina White’s story,” he said. “It popped up on my iPad, and right from there I went to the (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s) website.”
Carter didn’t just visit the site on a whim. He knew he’d been adopted at the age of four from a Honolulu orphanage, but he had precious little information about the rest of his childhood.
According to the Huffington Post, he had tantalizing fragments, such as the fact that his birth certificate said he was half Hawaiian despite his fair complexion. Yet, what he discovered rocked him to the core.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children had created a time-progression photo of a baby that had disappeared. The artificially aged image looked eerily like Carter.
Carter knew he needed to do something. So he reached out to the Honolulu Police Department.
“I let them know my info, and they ran with it,” he said. “They were the ones who did all the legwork.”
He also submitted a DNA test, and when investigators started putting the pieces together, he learned his birth name: Marx Panama Moriarty Barnes. His story began when he was only six months old in Hau’ula, Hawaii.
According to People magazine, Carter’s biological father, Mark Barnes, was busy doing yard work when his girlfriend Charlotte Moriarty said she wanted to take the baby and do some shopping. “That was the last I saw of them,” Barnes said.
“I spent about a year and a half going crazy driving around the island. I always expected a knock at the door or a phone call.”
But that call didn’t come for 35 years. Moriarty had disappeared and has not been seen since. After learning the truth about his past, Carter reached out to Barnes and his half-sister Jennifer Monnheimer.
“I just wanted to reach through the phone and hug him,” Monnheimer said. “Truthfully, I thought they were dead.”
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