On September 5, 1936, at around 4:30 pm, three brothers named Charles Browe (9 years old), Edward Browe (7 years old), and Harry "Buddy" Browe (19 months old) left their home in Detroit, Michigan. They were going to the park and were pushing Harry in a stroller. The siblings walked from their house at 1468 17th Street to Clark Park, which was about fourteen blocks away.
At around 6:30 pm, a woman came to the park with two young girls. She saw Charles and Edward playing on the swings with some other children. The woman noticed Harry in his stroller beside the swings and started showing him a lot of attention. She talked to the boys for a short time and then offered to buy ice cream for all three of them. She also said she could watch Harry for a while.
With money in their hands, Charles and Edward went to a nearby candy shop to buy ice cream. When they came back and finished eating their cones, the woman offered Charles some more money. This time, she wanted him to buy candy. She told Edward to watch over Charles as he crossed the street to make sure he did it safely.
Edward followed the woman's instructions and watched Charles as he crossed the street. Instead of going inside the store, Edward stayed right outside the door. When Charles came out of the store, he noticed that Edward had three pennies. Charles asked Edward where he got them, and Edward explained that a man had approached him and given him the pennies in exchange for more candy. The brothers decided not to buy more treats and went back to the park.
When Charles and Edward reached the swings where they had left Harry in his stroller, they discovered that Harry was no longer there. They looked around the playground but couldn't find him or the woman. It took them about three hours to get back home, and when they arrived, they told their parents, Robert (35) and Alice (27), what had happened. The Browe family immediately called the police to report the incident.
Charles and Edward told the investigators that the woman they saw was in her 30s, a bit on the heavier side, with blonde hair and glasses. She was wearing a blue and white dress, didn't have any stockings on, and had black shoes. They also described the two young girls who were with her. One of the girls was around 7 years old, wearing a brown dress with black shoes and yellow stockings. The other girl was about 11 years old, wearing a blue dress with matching black shoes and yellow stockings.
The man who gave Edward the three pennies had a cleft palate and was wearing a gray hat and a dark suit.
The Browe family couldn't understand why anyone would want to take baby Harry. They lived in a simple, worn-out house and didn't have much money. Robert worked in a steel factory, and Alice took care of their six children as a homemaker. Besides Charles, Edward, and Harry, their other children were Robert Jr. (4 years old), Marion (3 years old), and Irene (3 months old).
The investigators asked Charles and Edward many questions to make sure they were telling the truth about what happened that evening. Although the boys mentioned that Harry had fallen out of his stroller on the way to the park, they said he wasn't hurt. After being questioned several times, the detectives were sure that the boys were telling the truth.
The investigators also talked to two friends of the Browe children who were at the park that evening. Dolores and Joan Gallagher, aged 4 and 11 respectively, were there with their mother. They told the police the same story about a woman dressed in blue taking Harry. Another woman who was at the park confirmed this and mentioned that she saw a man carrying Harry in his arms shortly after he disappeared. She provided a similar description of the man who had given Edward extra money for treats.
A massive search effort began immediately, involving many police officers, volunteers, and even local Boy Scouts, all trying to find Baby Harry. Unfortunately, they couldn't find any sign of the missing baby or the people who were said to have taken him. To expand the search area, they distributed ten thousand flyers in multiple states.
The flyers offered a reward of $650 and provided a description of Harry: "Age: 19 months, height: 2 feet 4 inches, weight: 26 pounds, blue eyes, light brown/dark blonde hair. He was wearing a white romper, no stockings, and black shoes."
The circular also mentioned that Harry had a missing fingernail on his left ring finger and distinctive scars behind each of his ears. These scars were quite noticeable and unique. Just three months before Harry disappeared, he had undergone a mastoidectomy surgery, which involved removing diseased cells from the air-filled spaces in his mastoid bone. The scars were a result of that surgery.
Hundreds of tips poured in from people who claimed to have seen the missing child, including from nearby Indiana, and as far away as Canada. According to one man, he was confident he had seen Harry at a small gas station in Goshen, Indiana in the company of a man and woman driving a car with Michigan plates.
There were two separate phone calls that claimed Harry was in Evansville, Indiana, and Indianapolis. The investigators even went to Toronto, Canada to check on babies involved in an unusual event called the Great Stork Derby. This contest took place from 1926 to 1936, when women in Toronto competed to have the most babies in 10 years to be eligible for a bequest from a millionaire who organized the event. Unfortunately, all the leads turned out to be prank calls or led to dead ends, yielding no information about Harry's whereabouts.
Harry's parents were devastated and tried their best to spread the word about him. Alice traveled all the way to New York City to speak on a radio show that reached the entire country. Meanwhile, Robert made a plea to the kidnappers, asking them to leave the baby with a clergyman. He was worried that the constant stream of curious people coming to their house might discourage the kidnappers from returning Harry. In their desperation, the Browe family even consulted a psychic several times, hoping for any information that could help them find their missing baby.
In the following days, and as any promising leads began to dwindle, a clue finally presented itself in the form of a postcard. On September 11th, Alice received a picture postcard from Detroit in the mail. The letter read in part;
Please forgive me for taking your baby. You cannot understand how it is to be without one. You have so many, surely you can spare this one. He is beginning to like us, we want you to know….”
The investigators found a postcard that had been written by a woman and had a torn corner. They explained that kidnappers sometimes used this method to establish the identity of a baby if their appearance had changed. However, usually, this method was used in ransom cases, and the Browe family had not received any ransom requests. While the investigators thought the postcard might be genuine, they were unable to locate the person who had written it.
In 1950, another tragedy occurred in the Browe family. One evening, while walking, Alice and Robert were hit by a car. Unfortunately, Alice passed away immediately, while Robert sustained serious injuries including a broken pelvis and internal bleeding. With Alice's passing, Robert was left to take care of their children, who had now grown to a total of 12.
However, left with debilitating injuries from the accident, Robert was unable to continue working. A short time later Robert and his children moved in with Alice’s mother, Marion.
In 1952, Charles got a job as a gasoline truck driver to support his family. He used the money he earned to help them as much as he could. Unfortunately, that year brought another heartbreaking loss for the Browe family. Charles was involved in a fatal collision with another vehicle, and he died instantly. Later in December, Marion, another family member, also passed away.
During that same month, a fire broke out and destroyed a part of their home, leaving them without heating. It was a difficult time for the family. Eventually, after a long struggle with the insurance company, Robert was appointed as the administrator of Marion's modest estate.
In 1962, a potential breakthrough emerged when a young man claimed to be Harry. Neal Shine, a reporter who had been a childhood playmate of Charles and Edward and had written about their behavior following the disappearance, received a phone call one evening with this information.
The young man who called claimed that he had come across the story about Harry and became worried that he might be the missing boy. He shared some intriguing similarities, such as being the same age, having blue eyes, and having scars behind each of his ears. What made his story even more compelling was that he mentioned a deathbed confession made by the woman he believed to be his mother.
According to the young man before her death, she had told him “You are some other woman’s baby. I took you.
I have never been sorry, except for breaking that woman’s heart.”
After having multiple conversations, the man informed Neal that he had made a decision not to complicate his life if he was indeed Harry. However, Neal, driven by his own determination, took it upon himself to search for the young man. Based on their conversations, Neal believed the young man worked in a hotel kitchen. Over a period of six months, Neal tirelessly searched through numerous hotel kitchens, hoping to find a young man with scars behind his ears. Unfortunately, despite his efforts, Neal was unable to locate anyone matching the description.
Robert died in 1964, just two years after the events. Edward passed away in 1986. Over time, most of Harry's siblings have also passed away, leaving only two remaining. Despite the losses, there are still family members actively searching for Harry, who would be in his late 80s now. Their sole hope is to finally find an answer to the question that has haunted their family for all these years. What Happened To Harry? Your thoughts?
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