A ten-week-old infant is kidnapped by two teenage girls.
Laurence was 10 weeks old when he disappeared
Geoffrey Harding never met his brother
It all began in Chicago, Illinois, in 1953. Eight-year-old Geoffrey Harding was taunted by schoolmates about a brother he never knew. That same day, his mother showed him some scrapbooks stored in the attic. She explained that he did indeed have a brother. Geoffrey was unaware that his long lost brother had been kidnapped before he was born:
“I just didn’t know what to do. I felt so empty inside. And I felt so sad for my parents. I could just look in my mother’s eyes and see the pain. And I also wanted to know what it was like to have a brother. And I always felt cheated that I couldn’t communicate with him, I couldn’t play with him, couldn’t wrestle with him, couldn’t go to a ball game with him. I couldn’t do anything like everybody else did with their own brother and sister.”
The neighbor wasn’t paying attention
Geoffrey’s mother brought out a baby book and read him clippings she had saved about the events of June 30, 1944. That morning, she put ten week-old Laurence, Jr. in his carriage and made her customary trip to the corner market. There were two teenager girls in the store. According to Geoffrey, his mother didn’t recognize the girls from the neighborhood, but felt that their attention was innocent:
“As my mother was coming home from the market, the two girls were following her, but she… just thought that the two girls were walking down the street as she was going home. And when she pulled into the yard with the baby carriage, she saw a neighbor who lived upstairs. The lady who was supposed to be watching my brother didn’t keep an eye on him long enough. She watched him for a little while and then she kind of turned away. By the time my mother, who was running as fast as she could, got to the alley… the girls were gone.”
After three agonizing days, Geoffrey’s family received a phone call:
“The girl on the other end of the line identified herself as one of the people that took the baby and the girl said we’re going to bring the baby to you. And my mother said when?
And as she was waiting for an answer, the girl hung up on her. She was never asked for ransom and that was the last contact my mother had with the kidnappers.”
Two teenage girls took the baby
The FBI and the Chicago police searched for Laurence, Jr., to no avail. Finally, after four weeks, the investigation was called off. Ten-week-old Laurence Harding Jr. had vanished into thin air. Geoffrey Harding would never meet his older brother:
“When my mother told me what had happened, I think it was then that a seed was planted inside of me that because I loved my parents, I wanted to make this right for them.”
Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, Geoffrey was able to secure the original FBI records pertaining to the case of his brother’s disappearance. In these files, Geoffrey found a startling new lead, and he hired private investigator Paul Rigsby. Together, they learned that in 1944, the FBI had interviewed two railroad porters. According to Rigsby, the porters told a curious tale of a young woman at a Chicago train station just four days after Laurence’s disappearance:
“The FBI file from Washington that we were able to get a copy of, indicated one of the teenage girls showed up at the train station with a baby meeting the description of Laurence.”
The baby was last seen at the train station
According to Rigsby, the teenage girl then asked a random woman to hold her baby for a moment:
“More than likely the woman was on the platform with the baby, the train’s fixing to pull off and she’s not sure if the teenage girl is on the train or not on the train. And realized that it was her time to get on the train and was believing the teenage girl when she told her not to worry. And more than likely she got on the train waiting for the teenage girl to find her. However after the train took off, it became obvious that the teenage girl didn’t make the train. When the older woman with the baby arrived at Union Station in St. Louis, she approached two porters, George Hill and a Charlie McCall, and explained to them how she came by the baby. She also told him that she was going to Magnolia, Arkansas, but told him that if that mother decided she wanted the child, she’d be in Magnolia and she could find her there.”
Armed with the promising information, Rigsby immediately went to Magnolia. He conducted interviews and combed through the town’s records, but unfortunately turned up no trace of the woman or her family:
“The woman at the train station probably thought that the girl didn’t want this child. I believe that this woman was a Good Samaritan. She took care of the child. She did everything she could to let the porters know where she was going. And in no way, shape or form did she have anything to do with the abduction.”
She couldn’t catch up with the kidnappers
Geoffrey Harding will not give up his search until he finds out what happened to his brother. Geoffrey is certain his brother is alive and probably unaware of his unusual past:
“If there’s anything that I dream about as being the happy ending, it would be finding my brother, finding out that he was raised in a loving environment, finding out that he would be willing to accept me and accept my family and that we could spend our lives together as friends.”
Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season two with Robert Stack and season eight with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.
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People are so gullible. What happened was the mother was overwhelmed with 2 kids so got rid of one. Yeah it sounds sick, but it happens, especially back then. The story of two girls running off with it was completely fabricated by her. The later story that the son dug up about a woman handing a baby to a stranger on a train platform was his mother while she was ditching the kid on someone.
Did you even read the story? Laurence Jr was only 10 weeks old. Geoffrey hadn’t been born yet and at no point does it say that she had any children other than Laurence Jr.
This case always really stuck with me, I feel so much for the family who lost Laurence Jr. (especially the poor mother, how frightened she must have been!). I do have to wonder why the teen girls took him in the first place. It doesn’t strike me as a kidnapping to sell the baby, so what was the motive? Did they just think he was cute and it was an impulsive act? Did they know someone who couldn’t have children and think he would make a good replacement? If the phone call was them it would seem they wanted to return him and regretted taking him, so why did they not follow through? I suspect they were on their way to try and return him but could not figure out how to do so without being caught and getting in trouble (at that point it’s likely the neighborhood would have been on the lookout and apprehended them if they saw girls matching their descriptions or saw them with baby Laurence). Did they perhaps think the lady at the station would leave the baby with employees when they did not return and that he would find his way home that way? Perhaps the lady taking him with her was not what they had expected her to do. And that’s assuming the baby and the teen girl seen were Laurence and one of the kidnappers, and not an unwed teen mother of similar appearance. I think the best places to look for clues would be: DNA testing for family ancestry, looking into who had purchased tickets for that train on that day (were passengers recorded in a log book back then?), looking into who in the surrounding areas had 9 kids that matched the description of the woman on the train (even surrounding towns and cities, maybe after arriving at her destination on the train she took a cab ride home), also look into adoptions in the area or people who randomly had a new child at some point (this is more something I think neighbors and family would have noticed). I definitely think genealogy could help the best in cracking this, but there may be old records that could be looked into for clues. Surely a family out there somewhere must have an old story of how grandma came home with a new baby one day and said a girl at the train station left him with her …
Geoffrey should submit his DNA to ancestry.com and others genealogy sites and see what pops up. That’s really the only way to solve it now.
Why didn’t they go to the police? Um, blacks in the 1940s. I’m sure that child would have been a higher priority if he was white.
Did the train station have cameras? Why didn’t they have a picture of the baby? Um, because it was the 1940s?
Why did the woman keep the baby? Because she assumed the girl giving her the baby was an unwed mother who wanted to go back to being a teenager and remove the shame from her family. There was no “safe baby body in the 1940s. The child would have ended up in an orphanage, and there weren’t many wealthy, childless black people in the 1940s looking to adopt. The woman probably figured he was better with her.
God bless Geoffrey, and I hope he finds his brother.
Why arent there any pics of the baby ?? How could the world know who theyre looking for if they only show the actor”s photo? That baby actor is grown now and I cant believe he hasn’t demanded his pic be removed. I know it was the 40’s but who boards a train with someone else’s baby without saying anything until they get to their destination.. Even if that wasnt Lawrence, WHO WAS IT. You would think that would be a family story passed down from generation to generation! It just baffles me how no one ever knows anything. Thats impossible.
Everyone watches UM especially back in the day and it was on the news. Unless those two girls were living on their own and maybe from st louis then someone in chicago knows who those girls were. Even if one faked a pregnancy and needed to steal Lawrence they NEVER showed his pic so ppl wouldnt even know. The baby had a special diet. thats a big clue. If that was one of the girls who handed the baby to the lady on the train , thats prob why she did it. She prob had no job, cant get welfare with no bc for the baby, no ssn, prob was too young and dumb to be a conartist and she definitely couldnt afford the special formula if any formula at all, so thats why she abandoned the baby. BUT if that were one of the girls why not put him back where you got him and run..Maybe she thought he would end up in the right home but he didnt.
Its obvious that Lawrence is still alive living in his retired life not knowing the truth about who he is.. He prob had a rough life OR that was him at the train station and the lady kept him and raised him. They most likely knew or figured it was him but kept quiet. Mustve been able to obtain a bc and ssn bc otherwise he couldnt work.. BUT again, that was the 40’s-50’s you could be anyone then and work especially if you were male.
Why no pictures? Honey – the baby was just a few days old, and unlike today, people weren’t just carrying around phones and cameras. A camera was a luxury item.
They need to get this on the Center for Missing and Exploited Kids. Then it can get circulated through all the databases. An age progression would be nice
Has the Family of Lawrence Harding JR tried DNA ancestry? A great number of cases have been solved using DNA analysis some of the case on Unsolved Mysteries have been solved this way. And even if Lawrence JR is deceased he may have children or grandchildren out there
Investigators could track down all the residents with nine children in Magnolia, AR in 1944 and work from there. It may be tedious but just a thought…the population was most likely smaller back then.
Has there been any updates on this case? Is Geoffrey still alive, has he found his brother yet? This story has really touched me
No unfortunately. Shame because i felt so sorry for the mother.
The older lady said she was going to Magnolia, but she wasn’t necessarily living there at the time…? Maybe she was just visiting friends or family for the 4th of July holiday. Still, if it’s such a small town, I think it’s odd that the investigator went there and nobody knew anything. You’d think if an older lady showed up with an abandoned baby, that is something people in a small town would talk about and remember.
This is such a sad story because the baby could’ve ended up in a few different places and with anybody. Who knows if the older lady kept him and raised him in her family, or gave him to someone else. And she had no idea the baby was stolen. It seems almost impossible to track him down with everything that happened but I hope there is a DNA breakthrough someday.
Unsolved Mysteries, are there any updates on this case?
Unsolved Mysteries Post author
Unfortunately we are not aware of any at this time.
Is there any way to contact Geoffrey Harding?
there is nothing here. Geoff Harding
Is there any updates on this case. Would love to know
Is there any update on this case? I’d love.to know if they found each other.
I would like to know to, I see in 2015 someone commented “Lawrence c. Powell 3rd, his father had 9 siblings was born in 1944, lives in Detroit, and that his uncles teased his dad by calling him a hobo baby.” Was that lead ever followed up?
I doubt it, there was no way the older woman at the train station knew the babies name, so it’s not likely to have been Laurence.
Is anybody looking? Not fake, anonymous lame post! REAL INFORMATION! I can’t believe that neighbor. She probably set it up.
Geoffrey, I think I may have information that may be important to you and your family. My email is pastorliz03 @gmail. Com
Share with us please!!!! some way or another, we can help!
I am Geoffrey Harding, Laurence’s brother. Please contact me at email@example.com. Thanks
Hi Geoff Harding here is an email address of someone who has very important information about your brother Laurence
Why do people create false info? Tell it directly to the cops or Unsolved Mysteries.
Back then,,I think people took in babies.no matter what,I’m sure it would have been easy toget birth certif and the like back then.
This case was on my mind.I wish it was solved.
What you have to remember is in 1944 a war was coming to an end the woman probably thought a baby black child could be brought up in a home so decided after trying at station which she did she gave address etc the FBI wasn’t bothered about a baby think about the way white people very wrongly treated blacks they didn’t care and as I said there was a war on too. The lady obviously had some wealth to be traveling so hopefully he had a better life than if those two girls who took him originally if they had kept him no the FBI should have followed this through. However I’m not sure but I think this may have been solved. Above are two people saying they are sure they have info too. So all is not lost. Don’t be so fast to chastise the lady who held him she did all she could 1944 god knows where this poor lad would have ended up. Also someone says about the mother not trying what could she do the police FBI were “supposed to be dealing with this it’s not like today where we have a small world in web!
It is too bad that the F.B.I. did not hand over what they found at the time years ago. So, I came up with an idea of how to crack this case, if the details concerning what those two men saw and heard at the train station that day. O.K. Here is my idea. However, this task is going to be a little tedious, but should be effective if such records have been kept: Go back over the details concerning “the exact day” the girls, baby, and older woman was seen at that station. If I were an investigator, I would go through the logs that lists every passenger that rode that bus or train that whole entire day. Back then there were paper logs with information concerning all of the riders, because the tickets had to be printed. If those logs still exist today(hopefully), then the records concerning every traveler that was there that entire day should be sifted through like a fine tooth comb.
Also, check and see if such records were saved via microfiche as well. If this method was done back then, this case would have been cracked! Much luck! I was truly touched by this story.
Lawrence Powell 3Rd from detroit
Hello my name is Lawrence c Powell 3Rd IM from Detroit Michigan my father has nine siblings and he was born in 1944 he passed away Feb 12 2001 and seeing your case just now seemed odd because I remember my uncles used to tease him by calling him a hobo baby
Did you check into this?
Contact Geoff Harding please. firstname.lastname@example.org
Oh good grief. You guys are like the folks who call parents of missing kids claiming to know where they are….
So very sad. I pray that someone would come forward. I pray that you find your brother.
I think Geoffrey should sign up to Long Lost Family. Now, it’s been renewed for season 2.
Why is his picture not on Missingkids.com?
Seems like the likely suspect could be the woman who reportedly held onto the baby for a ‘teen’ – she may have just wanted a story to tote around a baby that wasn’t hers. Was there ever a good description of her? No ticketing information provided or a roster for the train?
After all of these years since this show first aired and with the advanced technology in use since that time (e.g., DNA, internet, etc) you would think that somebody would have come forward with more information by now, especially since the teens who took him apparently gave him up to a good Samaritan, which leads me to wonder if he or his brother are still alive.
please contact me email@example.com about info on this unsolved mystery
I think you should call him
Any luck with case
This is a very sad story. I am praying for you and your family and I hope that one day you may find the answers you are seeking.
I’ve always thought this case was sad and scary. Poor mother. I have a feeling that someone out there knows something, I still think that the woman from the train station has the answer. Maybe someone in her family knows…you’d think someone would remember your relative bringing home a baby all of a sudden.
What’s a good idea?
That’s a good idea.
Do you believe your brother lives in Magnolia now or do you know? I grew up in Magnolia and my mother is 82 and stills lives there. I called her to tell her the story to see if she may have ever heard anything about someone who took in a baby. She didn’t recall anything about this but there may be other older people in Magnolia that know of this incident. Have you considered publishing this story in the Banner Newspaper in Magnolia or share in on the local radio Freiendly Show that everyone listens to.
Hi my name is Jackee. I am also from Magnolia Arkansas. This case is something I would very much like to help solve because I have missing relatives. Did the woman not leave a name to tell the people who to ask for in Magnolia. Did her family not question this situation. or did she not tell them the truth about the baby something don’t add up here cuz Magnolia’s of small town somebody would have remembered or question why did she not tell the police . that don’t make no sense it do kind of sound like maybe she was into it to keep the baby anyway. I would really like to help with this case if it has not been solved where there any names who was this lady I really would like to know if this case has been solved who was she related to in Magnolia Arkansas my email address is Jackeeofspade52@gmail.com.
Perhaps you and your parents could submit your DNA to the FBI or local law enforcement to create and locate a genetic match, if your brother has ever submitted his DNA for testing, his profile may be in someone’s records. DNA profile are created by hospitals for organ donors, there is a possibility that at one time he could have been tested for some reason or another. My prayers are with you. God Bless.
Why hadnt she gone to police with baby,gee if some kid left me a baby u betcha ima go straight to police with it.and tell them what happened. Smh dont ppl think. Or this is making no sense ,.as for the mom its oh well scrapbook him. No id bug them to keep looking seems like noone actually searched
I think Geoffrey should go on Ancestry.com and see if he can find his brother.
Hey! ancestry.com would be another way to try and find out such information, especially if the other person did a D.N.A. test as well! I wonder if that train station had any cameras. And, I wonder if school records were checked.
I am also disappointed in the fact that the woman did not take measures herself to turn over the baby, or at least relay explicit information to the Chicago, Illinois police. Then, turn the baby in in the city she resided in once she found out that the baby was indeed reported as missing.
No. She apparently was in no hurry to turn that baby in to be reunited with his family. No siree, Bob! She was not in a hurry at all! I hope to God that the Chicago, IL train station and the Saint Louis, Missouri train station has logs of each passenger! Ooooh, I hope to God!
Some people definitely needs to go to jail! Seriously!
Good idea!!! AshleyK
This is just a really sad story and I just hope that one day you would reunite with your brother. God bless.