Was Nicholas Barclay ever found? What happened to teenager as Netflix drops true crime doc The Imposter

Still of Nicholas Barclay (Madman Films / YouTube)Still of Nicholas Barclay (Madman Films / YouTube)
Still of Nicholas Barclay (Madman Films / YouTube)

Netflix has added the jaw-dropping true crime documentary The Imposter to its streaming service. The film, which originally came out in 2012, follows the story of a missing boy in the US and whether or not he truly is who he says he is.

In 1994, 13-year-old Nicholas Barclay vanished without trace from his home, leaving his family with myriad unanswered questions. Years later, they received a telephone call from Spain, informing them that the boy had been found safe and well in a care home, clearly traumatised by his ordeal.

Nicholas’ sister Carey flew to Spain where she was greeted by a shy, reticent teenager with dyed blond hair and brown eyes – a world away from the blond, blue-eyed teenager who had been the apple of her eye.

Yet Carey accepted the man as Nicholas, taking him back to Texas where the rest of the clan welcomed Nicholas with open arms, ignoring the fact that the man was 23-year-old impostor Frederic Bourdin.

Layton’s documentary juxtaposes dramatic reconstructions and face-to-face interviews to ponder why an emotionally scarred family would embrace a stranger like a son.

Here is everything you need to know.

What happened to Nicholas Barclay?

Barclay disappeared after a game of basketball in San Antonio back in 1994, with the police assuming that he had been murdered or kidnapped. As no body had ever been found, the search was called off.

Unexpectedly, the family are then eventually contacted by authorities in Spain claiming that their son was on another continent. At first, they were elated by the news, but quickly discovered that some things were a bit different.

Their son was a blonde-haired and blue-eyed child from Texas, but this kid was brown-eyed, had dyed hair, and spoke with a French accent.

That’s because this wasn’t Barclay, but rather French confidence trickster Frédéric Bourdin, who turned out to have a long record of impersonating various children, embellished his claim to be Nicholas Barclay by alleging that he had been kidnapped for purposes of sexual abuse by different military personnel and transported from the US to Spain.

His impersonation fooled several officials in Spain and the US, and he was apparently accepted by many of Barclay’s family members, even though he was seven years older than Barclay. The impersonation was eventually discovered as a result of the suspicions of a private investigator, Charles Parker, and an FBI agent, Nancy Fisher.

Where is Nicholas Barclay now?

The case has largely gone cold and Nicholas Barclay has sadly never been found, although private investigators appear to be actively working on it. It is suspected that there was foul play involved, with his brotherJason as a possible suspect.

But Jason developed a drug problem after Nicholas’ disappearance, and died of a cocaine overdose later in 1998. With his death, the investigation stalled.

Nicholas has never been located and his case remains unsolved, with many agencies continuing to classify him as a runaway.

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