The disappearances of Christopher Dansby and Shane Walker are explored in season two of Netflix's popular documentary series Unsolved Mysteries.
In an episode called Stolen Kids, it is recalled that two young children went missing while at the Martin Luther King Jr Towers playground in Harlem, New York, in 1989, just a few months apart from each other.
The two accounts are told through interviews with the mothers, weaving in testimony from police officers and witnesses who were present on the day of each child's disappearance.
Christopher, aged two, had been at the playground with his mum Allison. She stepped away to go to the shop, leaving him under the watch of other family members. By the time that Allison returned to the park, Christopher was no longer in the line of sight of his grandmother and they were unable to find him.
This had occurred in May of that year. Almost three months later, 19-month-old Shane Walker went missing in the same spot under very similar circumstances.
His mother Rosa Glover had been watching him play from a bench when she was approached by two other children (between the ages of five and 10) who wanted to play with her son. Explaining to the filmmakers that she would not usually allow Shane to play with other children, she recalled that she had initially said no. But, after the other children persisted, she had allowed it.
Rosa recalled that a man then came to sit by her on the bench. According to a 2009 report on CNN, Glover said that the man had started talking about crime – and, more specifically, referencing things that can happen to children. She also noted that he had scars, apparently from fights.
"I turned my head to look at all the scars on his body," she told the news outlet. "When I turned back, I didn't see my son."
Despite searching the park, she could not find Shane. Rosa said that she noticed the two older children re-entering the park without her son. After asking them where Shane was, they had told her that they had "left him in the park".
As noted in the documentary, both children – and their parents – were questioned by police, but the authorities did not find sufficient reason to suspect them of involvement.
In addition, the man that had sat next to Rosa on the bench was also questioned. This did not result in any further leads either.
In the case of both Christopher and Shane, the New York Police Department conducted extensive searches in the surrounding areas of the park and the cases generated a lot of media coverage. To this day, neither Christopher or Shane have been found.
In 1989, after pin-pointing six similarities in the two cases, Deputy Chief Ronald J Fenrich told the New York Times that they had "linked the children's abductions, but not to the same person." He revealed that they were seeking to question two different suspects at that time.
According to this archive article, Fenrich had put forward the theory of a baby-stealing ring as a possible cause of the abductions of the children. It was noted, however, that child adoption services in New York City had pushed back against this idea.
Chief Fenrich argued that "someone who wants a baby who is not qualified to adopt a baby might steal a baby or hire someone to do so."
This idea was presented again, over 30 years later, in Unsolved Mysteries. While the docu-series presented a number of different theories as to what may have happened to them, this was the one given most air time.
If this turns out to be true, it was noted that both Christopher and Shane might have been brought up by other families, completely unaware of their true identities.
Investigators have also considered other possible theories over the years, such as abduction by a pedophile or the actions of a serial killer, but it's been reported that no evidence has been found to prioritise these particular premises. While Shane's mother did receive a phone call telling her that his body had been buried in an abandoned building, police did not find anything at the location and so this was concluded to be false.
According to a 1989 article on AP News, the only route that appears to have been ruled out completely is that of ransom, as no family members were ever contacted for money.
The Charley Project notes that the case of Andre Terrance Bryant – who went missing in 1989 at just one month old – was initially thought to be connected to the two disappearances, even though the details of the case are quite different.
His mother, Monique Rivera, had gone shopping with two women that had recently befriended her. It is believed that they had requested she bring Andre along. A day later, Monique's body was found in some woods in the Bronx. There was no sign of Andre and he has not been seen, or heard from, since. The two women have never been identified.
Both Christopher and Shane's families are still holding out hope that, one day, they will be reunited with their missing loved ones.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has released imagery of what Christopher Dansby and Shane Walker might look like now. These pictures were featured in the Netflix show in anticipation that they might get recognised or lead to new information in the cases.
If you have any information about Christopher, Shane or any of the other missing children named at the end of the Stolen Kids episode, please email HOTLINE@NCMEC.ORG or head to the official Unsolved Mysteries website.
Unsolved Mysteries is available on Netflix now.
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