My selection for this week’s Flashback Friday is little Richard Ray Barnett, aka Ricky, who disappeared from his grandparents’ Grangeville, Idaho egg and dairy farm on August 31, 1982. He was two years and nine months old at the time. Grangeville is a tiny town of only a few thousand in northern Idaho. Richard’s mother lived in a southern part of the state. Ricky’s father lived on the farm with his parents at the time of the child disappeared. He was last seen sitting on a hay wagon near the farm’s chicken barns. Bloodhounds tracked his scent to a fence, but lost the trail then, and there was no other sign of him in spite of a four-day search of the farm involving hundreds of volunteers.
Although Ricky’s grandparents were considered suspects or at least persons of interest for years after his disappearance, it looks like the police have discounted the theory now. His grandfather is dead now, but his grandmother ultimately passed a polygraph and was ruled out as a suspect. She lived in Hawaii last I knew; I’m not sure if she’s still alive.
It’s possible he was abducted and, if that was the case, he may have been taken by someone who wanted to raise a child. Given his age at the time of his disappearance, he may not realize he isn’t the son of the people who raised him. In 2006 a man came forward who thought he might be Ricky, but DNA tests proved otherwise.
Ricky was bowlegged and wore braces to correct his condition, but those were removed months prior to his disappearance. Beyond that he doesn’t really have any particular distinguishing characteristics that I know of. It seems like this toddler’s presumed abduction must have rocked that little Idaho town, but I haven’t been able to find much in the press. Although there was a flurry of articles in the 2000s, I can’t find any recent press or other information on his disappearance and there doesn’t seem to have been that much to begin with.
Both of Ricky’s parents now live in Oregon. I don’t know if he has any siblings or half-siblings. His NamUs profile says DNA is available but not dental charts; perhaps, at two, he had simply never been to see a dentist. If he’s still alive, he’d be 34 years old as of this writing. Where is he; what happened to him?
Anyone who knows anything about the case should contact the law enforcement number listed in Richard Barnett’s casefile. Anyone know knew him or his family back in 1982, I’d love if they posted information in the comments section that I might be able to add to the Charley Project.