Anniversary article on Taj Narbonne case

Nine-year-old Taj Narbonne disappeared from Leominster, Massachusetts (my idol Robert Cormier’s hometown, incidentally) thirty-one years ago on March 31. I’ve had a lot of contradictory information on this disappearance, but the primary suspect is his then-stepfather, who was violent and seemed to detest the child. His stepfather is now in a state mental hospital. Recently the cops found some photos that resembled Taj, but the FBI said they weren’t a match.

I found this article about the ongoing investigation into Taj’s disappearance. The article needs a bit of editing: they say “After pouring over reports and accounts of what happened that night, Aubuchon said a few things struck him that lead to Dean being a person of interest” and then go on about Dean, without saying he was Clarence Dean, Taj’s stepfather. They also fail to identify “Annette” as Annette Dean, Taj’s mom.

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16 thoughts on “Anniversary article on Taj Narbonne case

  1. Kim March 29, 2012 / 2:05 am

    I dont think there is much question the boy did not run away. He left barefoot with no shoes possibly because Clarence either carried the boy out of bed to kill him or the boy was harmed in his bed . Very Sad that mom apparantly was sleeping and was oblivious to what Clarence was doing but he apparantly was not in bed with her so what did he tell her he was doing out of bed that night? I don’t get why woman marry these men who are means to their kids and they get pregnant some more making it even hard to leave, but not possible. I would have never taken any chances with my kids. If you cannot leave then send the kids to live with family while you sort your personal situation out. your kids safety is the most important here.

    • Meaghan March 29, 2012 / 3:33 pm

      In Annette’s defense, Taj was living with his grandparents for some time and had just come back to Mom before he disappeared.

      Most women have no idea what they’re getting into when they marry these people. An abusive partner generally doesn’t become violent on the first date. Often they shower the other person with love and affection and sweep them off their feet, THEN suddenly change into a monster.

      • Melinda March 14, 2016 / 5:37 pm

        @Meaghan…agreed, sometimes abusers can be charming at first. But with my stepfather, I knew almost immediately that the guy was trouble. It didn’t take him long to start verbally and emotionally abusing me.

        I hoped that my mom would wake up, but she married him anyway. I believe that people should always try to be careful when getting into relationships…especially when children are involved.
        And especially if there are children from a previous relationship involved, because abusers are often jealous and aren’t above hurting or mistreating the kids.
        I think that in the case of Taj Narbonne, this definitely applies. Clarence was obviously VERY jealous of Taj and wanted him “out of the way”.

    • Melinda March 14, 2016 / 5:19 pm

      @Kim…I couldn’t agree more! I know my comment is really late, since your comment was in 2012. But you are right. I feel for Taj because I was in a very similar situation growing up with an abusive stepdad.
      My mother knew he was treating me badly but she didn’t care. All that mattered was that she had this man in her life.

      It seems that Annette (Taj’s mom) was the one who told Clarence to check on Taj in his room that night, which sounds weird because the kid was terrified of Clarence.
      I wonder why she would do that? She knew her son was afraid of him.

  2. Melissa March 29, 2012 / 4:56 am

    I agree – what crappy editing.

    An interesting read, nonetheless.

  3. Kim March 30, 2012 / 2:14 am

    Annette seems to know Taj was terrified of his step dad and mom also know he was mistreated by him. he should have never been allowed to come back home and stay with mom. Even if Mom was not in a position to leave him 9 months pregnant, Taj should have been found another home until she left Clarence. I don’t know why the Grandparents sent him back, he called Grandma and said he was scared. They had to have known there were issues with Clarnce. Cute kid, I just wonder where his body is.

    • Meaghan March 30, 2012 / 2:15 am

      You’re probably right about all those things; I just think there’s no point in criticizing Annette at this late date. We don’t know the whole story and I’m sure she feels terrible enough about it as is.

    • Melinda March 14, 2016 / 6:03 pm

      @Kim…agreed! I know it isn’t my place to judge Annette because like Meaghan says, she is probably grieving her son’s absence. However, you are absolutely right.
      It is very unfair to put children into a situation where they are being mistreated. Taj should have been in a safe environment; no child should have to live in fear in their own home.

  4. Toni Chester April 21, 2012 / 1:56 pm

    Things were different back in those days. I still remember when Taj disappeared. I don’t think I’ll ever forget. His grandfather was a friend of my father. The family was devastated. I remember seeing a missing child poster for Taj when I lived in NJ in the late 1990s, it took my breath away.

    I grew up in Leominster, these things just weren’t common back in those days. And please remember victims of domestic violence often feel trapped and live in fear. The Narbonnes are a kind family. The grandparents were devastated by his disappearance.

  5. archie d. February 9, 2013 / 12:14 pm

    if any one is interested, i have 12 video’s up of the taj narbonne story. & the crazy thing i met him some where done the line be for his disappearance, just type in
    (missing for 31yrs the taj narbonne story),& i will bring you my thought’s & theory’s & places of interest, where i think taj is thanks

  6. archie sdmf March 9, 2013 / 8:30 am

    i will like to update on Taj Narbonne’s step father, i went as far as trying to go in and talk to him face to face! i wanted to let him know of what i was doing, and try to spook him in to telling him that i was close on finding Taj, and try and make him maybe come out with the truth, all i had to do was write him a letter, and if he wrote back,and gave me permission, i could go talk to him! but when the lady that keeps record’s on all the inmates, punched in his name to see what cell he was in, and to give me all the info to write to him, she notice that his name was not in the system! then she did a check for all prisons in MA, and he is in none of them! unless he got in trouble in another state, and went to jail there?At this point Mr. Clarence Dean, in my eyes! killed Taj Narbonne, and got away with it! what ever he did to get in to bridge water, did his time, and now is a free man! I would like to mention, due to me doing a documentary on Taj, if i see Clarence, due to the fact that he grew up in our town of Fitchburg, MA, and that he might be back in this town, because i’ve looked as much as i could on the internet. it says that he is back at his family’s house, in Fitchburg! If i see him, i’m gonna try to get my talk with him!

    • Meaghan March 9, 2013 / 8:38 am

      I’ve been to Fitchburg a few times, to research at the college.

      • archie sdmf March 9, 2013 / 8:47 am

        I’ve lived in this town for 26 yrs, it’s a s–t hole to me lol

    • Melinda March 14, 2016 / 8:38 pm

      @Archie…wow, thanks for sharing. It seems like you know a lot about this case. I saw your videos about Taj on YouTube and I must congratulate you on your efforts in finding the truth of what happened to him.

      I also believe that Clarence Dean either killed/harmed Taj but we have to be careful about making accusations. Still, I agree with you…he either did something to him or the abuse was so bad that Taj could have run away and encountered somebody else who hurt him.
      Poor little boy never stood a chance with a chaotic home life.

      So he was released from Bridgewater? Wow. It is my understanding that he was sent there because he was found to be mentally ill and he had attempted to kill Annette, Taj’s mother.
      The man is obviously disturbed.

      I wonder if Taj’s grandparents are still living and who his biological father is. There is no mention of Taj’s real dad anywhere, which also makes me sad because he needed somebody positive in his life.
      His mom pretty much chose an abusive partner over him and Clarence treated him like crap. It seems like the grandparents were the only ones looking out for him as much as they could.

      • terrafullsight March 17, 2016 / 9:58 pm

        Hi thanks for the views on YouTube. I know I have nothing to fear of Clarence Dean I have morals in life & know my limitations, but I also grew up on the other side of the tracks like Clarence, & it’s people like him who made me like the way I am. & now that I’m older & see these stories like Taj’s just grow beyond the universe I feel I should do something when I can, & even if i had to go to meet clarence himself, & that’s how I found out Clarence was out &person at bridgewater told me , it was not because of Annette why clarence was in bridgewater state hospital, it was something else. Now I do know alot due to the head detective on the case, but also I met someone who was very close to Taj, but I promised this person I would keep their identity safe with me,& this person has already spoke to police. But that is all i can say. But there are places I will b going to search, that i was told & see what comes out of it & thats all i can say. my first place will b in the woods across the street from Taj’s old house. On the day he disappeared this month. The video I make will b at night on my YouTube channel so once again thanks for the views more to come & I hope I can help break this case with what I know take care .

  7. MB April 2, 2016 / 11:24 pm

    Interesting…I read that Clarence was there because he had tried to kill Annette. So you’re saying that information is false?

    If you decide to meet him in person, please be careful. I admire your dedication to finding out the truth behind Taj’s disappearance.
    Taj obviously holds a special place in your heart and it moves me that you don’t want him to be forgotten.

    If Clarence DID kill Taj, I doubt he will admit it all these years later. No one has ever been able to prove or determine what happened.
    From what I’ve read, Clarence Dean is very sick and his mental state continued to deteriorate after Taj disappeared.
    The way he treated Taj reminds me of how my stepdad treated me. I wish people would be more careful about who they bring into their children’s lives; a lot of kids would be spared the pain of abusive step-parents. Some of the kids in the really horrific cases might even still be alive if their parents had made better choices.

    I wonder what Annette herself has to say about this. Taj was her first child and I wish I could hear her thoughts on the whole situation.
    What is also unique about Taj’s case is that he was a white child with a Black step-parent…fairly uncommon in the United States. This adds another more complicated dynamic because it wasn’t just that Clarence resented Taj as a stepson, but also because he looked so different from himself.
    Some step-parents (the abusive ones) hate the step-children because the kids are a physical reminder that their partner was with somebody else. Taj would never have been able to pass as Clarence’s biological son, just like no one with eyes could ever mistake me for my stepdad’s real daughter.

    Sad that jealousy and mental illness caused the disappearance of this little boy…

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