Boyd disappeared at the age of 13. Three years later, he returned, but he wasn’t alone. Nicholas Barclay vanished from his San Antonio neighborhood in 1994, leaving no trace. Three years later, he was discovered in Spain, where he had supposedly gotten away from a military child prostitution ring. When he went home to Texas, he appeared to have changed physically and talked with a French accent.
According to his mother, the family was understanding the situation and welcomed him into their home. The fact remains, though, that this very different individual was not Nicholas Barclay at all. After several months of posing as Nicholas, Frederick Bourdain, a 29 year old French Con artist, finally acknowledged that he had stolen the identity of Nicholas, the family’s long lost son from the family.
But how could the family have been so definitely deaf? Bart Leighton’s unsettling documentary investigates the motivations of a family who maintains the pretense of knowing someone they in fact did not understand.
This is a fascinating and bizarre real story concerning the disappearance of Nicholas Barclay and the exposure of French Con man Frederick Bourdain, alias The Chameleon, which is based on actual events. However, where there are several terrible true crime stories of persons who inexplicably vanish, the interest of Nicholas Barclay’s narrative is amplified by the addition of a well known Con artist and the Barclay family’s acceptance of the Con artist.
Nicholas Barclay, a 13 year old basketball player, mysteriously vanished while participating in a game. Nicholas was 13 years old when he disappeared on June 13, 1994, while playing basketball with friends in the neighborhood near his house in San Antonio, Texas. After the game, he called his elder brother Jason to beg for a ride home, but his brother declined, telling him that he should walk instead because it wasn’t too far away from the Stadium.
His brother likewise refused to hand the phone to his mother since he didn’t want to wake her up because she was sleeping after working a twelve hour shift the night before. Sadly, Jason was the last person to talk to Nicholas before the adolescent vanished without a trace later that day. When Nicholas Barclay went missing, he had a juvenile record and an upcoming court appearance scheduled. Nicholas had a difficult upbringing. His mother worked late night hours at Dunkin Donuts to support the family.
The police were frequently called to his home because of minor thefts. He was also physically and verbally hostile to his mother, according to reports. When he went missing, he had an imminent court case set and was facing the prospect of spending time in a residential treatment facility for problematic youths.
Three years later, a man claiming to be Nicholas arrived at the door, claiming to have escaped from a child sex trafficking organization. Barclay, a 13 year old with a terrible life, who had a history of aggression, including violence towards his mother and even a juvenile criminal record for petty stealing, had a difficult upbringing.
Nicholas also had a court appearance scheduled, which was getting closer. Consequently, when his family reported him missing in June 1994, authorities assumed that he’d fled the country on his own initiative. Nicholas, on the other hand, was nowhere to be found. According to authorities, Nicholas brother Jason called the police three months later to say that Nicholas had attempted to break into the family’s garage, which was the first time they’d seen him, but that Nicholas had then fled. When the police investigated, they thought it was strange.
Why would Jason lie about seeing his missing brother? When authorities from Lanare, Spain, contacted the San Antonio Police Department in October 1997, they informed the officers that they had located Nicholas. It was claimed by them that Barclay had managed to escape from a European military sex trafficking operation that targeted children.
The fact that Barclay returned home with a different eye color and a French accent didn’t bother his family, who didn’t notice or care about those minor details. Carrie Barclay, Barclay’s sister, traveled to Spain to bring her brother back to the United States.
Authorities released him into her custody after she was able to identify him with certainty. It had been three years since Barclay had been separated from his family. When he was reunited with them in San Antonio, however, it appears that Barclay had changed over the years. He had blonde hair and blue eyes when he went missing, and police were looking for him.
Although he claimed to be Nicholas Barclay, the person who claimed to be him, the person who his sister Carrie identified as her missing brother was a man with Brown hair and Brown eyes who spoke with a French accent.
Nonetheless, Carrie recognized this individual as Nicholas Barclay, and he returned to his hometown with his sister to reunite with his family. Furthermore, his statements that he was compelled to speak French and that he was subjected to chemical eye drop treatments which changed the color of his eyes were accepted by his entire family as fact. And despite the fact that he claimed to have been abused, he was in relatively good health. When he was reunited with his family. The family requested that authorities closed the case, but one Detective refused to heed their request.
The abduction of Barclay and subsequent finding far away from San Antonio, drew the attention of the investigative television show Hardcopy, which followed the case. After hearing about the story, a Detective named Charlie Parker turned up to the Hard copy interview with Nicholas and his family to observe.
He was struck by the parallels and differences between Nicholas and the individual claiming to be the long lost boy. During an interview, he ordered the camera operator to Zoom in on the man’s ears, which he did. In a later interview, Parker explained that he remembered Scotland Yard having used such strategy to track down the individual who murdered Martin Luther King.
An examination of Barclays ears revealed that the person posing as Barclay was an adult imposter. According to the findings, the family was adamant in their refusal to believe the private Detective. As a result, he concentrated his efforts on Barclay himself. A private Detective was summoned to a restaurant for breakfast one morning and the individual pretended to be Nicholas Barclay confessed to the Detective that his real identity was Frederick Bourdain and that he was wanted by Interpol. Aside from that, Parker was correct about the ears.
They’re the only feature of the human body that doesn’t show signs of aging. Further investigation revealed that Bourdain was far older than he stated and that he couldn’t have been the alleged Nicholas Barclay. Frederick Bourdain was sentenced to prison when authorities discovered that he’d been posing as Barclay on a number of occasions while living in Barclay.
Bourdain spent over five months in the family’s home where he attended Nicholas high school and became fully integrated into the household. Although he revealed to the private Detective that he was an imposter and not Nicholas Barclay, the FBI became involved after a statement of the private Detective was recorded.
For Dane’s genuine identity was proved by fingerprint and ear analysis, which led to a confession and further cooperation with authorities. He was sentenced to six years in prison for falsifying his passport application and committing perjury. Following his release from prison, Bourdain returned to his home in France. Today he resides in Le Mones, France, with his wife and two children, where he was born. In his documentary The Imposter Documentarian, Bart Leyton tells the story of the family’s ordeal.
The Imposter, a documentary style film noir directed by Bart Leyton, was released in 2012. In this film, Leighton was adamant about not glossing over the facts of Bourdain’s conment exploits. The film, on the other hand, appears to be more concerned with the Barclay family than with Nicholas Barclay himself. Throughout the film, it becomes clear to the audience that the Barclay family is devoid of all reason. Not only does Bourdain appear to be a decade older than a 16 year old boy, but his eyes are also different from Nicholas.
His hair is darker rather than blonde, as opposed to his sisters. He has a French accent when he speaks, however, Nicholas’s sister provides Bourdain with all the information he requires in order to convincingly embody the role of Nicholas Barclay on stage. Layton’s video makes an attempt to shed light on what may be the hidden motivations behind the Barclay family’s decision to adopt Bourdain into their home.
Someone in Barclay’s family may have been responsible for his death. There’s another view that’s completely different from the grieving victim argument that evolved when the private investigator worked on Nicholas case and began to become skeptical of the Barclay family.
This theory is that Nicholas was murdered by his own family. Authorities were perplexed as to why a family would knowingly retain a stranger in their home and enable him to pose as their son who had gone missing. When Bourdain met Nicholas older brother Jason for the first time. It was very memorable event for everyone involved. Jason, it seemed, never even gave Bourdain a second glance.
Even Bourdain has confessed to interview after interview that he does not believe Jason ever acknowledged him as Nicholas. After meeting Jason, Bourdain said that when Jason was leaving the family home, Jason said to him, good luck, which he took to heart.
Consequently, authorities attitude of the Barclay family changed from one of grief to one of suspicion. The fact that Bourdain is a seasoned Con artist makes it tough to listen to his thoughts on the matter. But his theory has merit and it’s one that investigators are also inclined to believe.