When parents decide to adopt a child and bring them into their family, they feel like their dreams have finally come true. And for many adoptive kids, the realization that someone else out there wants to give them the stability and love they’ve been yearning feels simply amazing. But even if they’re thrilled to be raised by a new set of parents, adoptive children often wonder where they came from. As they grow older, other questions start to arise. And no one knows this better than Steven Carter Jr. The details of his life before being adopted were not clear. In fact, his entire life story was a bit blurry. Even his birth certificate had been issued a month after he had been born. But when he stumbled upon a crazy missing person story as a grown up, he decided it was time to take matters into his own hands and investigate. His investigation ended up paying off after he was able to solve one of the longest missing child cases in the USA.Life was good for the young man, who was taking a lunch brunch, casually checking out his phone, when suddenly, a CNN breaking news story made him stop dead in his tracks. Little did he know that clicking on that story would send him on an adventure to unravel secrets from his past. Not only that, but what he’d eventually dig up would end up making waves on every news station out there!
As an adult, she had finally figured out what happened to her, and now she wanted to tell the world her story. Carlina was the one who ended up cracking her own missing persons’ case. You see, she was only 19 days old when a woman impersonating a nurse had kidnapped her from the hospital. But Carlina didn’t know she had been stolen at birth. Her story resonated with Steven, who always felt like there was some information missing about who he was and where he had come from.
But his confusing upbringing apparently begun in the beautiful Hawaiian islands, where he was born with a different name — Tenzin Amea. All he knew at this point was that he was originally born on January 16, 1977, and that at some point in his life, he had ended up in foster care in the island of Oahu. But that wouldn’t last long.
The time he spent at the orphanage wasn’t really all that bad, but he had always dreamed of having a big loving family. He had never known what it was like to be raised in a stable home. He was an affectionate little boy. One day, a couple who was looking to adopt visited the orphanage in 1980, and they immediately fell in love with the little boy’s magnetic personality.
They were looking to take the next step and have a child. His wife worked as a teacher, but they always felt like they wanted something more. One day, they decided to visit the local orphanage where they met an adorable little three-year-old child named Tenzin Amea. The couple was captivated by his charm almost instantly. Little did they know that this sweet little guy’s story was far more complicated than anyone had imagined.
Tenzin had blue eyes and blonde hair, so when the people at the orphanage told the parents that he was half-Native Hawaiian, they were taken by surprise. Steven and Pat didn’t really see how it was possible for this pale little boy to be of native Hawaiian descent, but they weren’t about to contradict their claims. After all, no one really knew much about where he had come from. All they cared about was giving him the life he deserved.
They decided to rename the child after his adoptive parent, Steven Jr. But they wanted to keep his original name too, so Tenzin became William Steven Tenzin Carter. The family took off to New Jersey later on, and moved to the posh community of Medford Lakes. Steven’s adoptive parents managed to give him everything he could’ve possible dreamt of. The happy little boy was involved in different activities, sports, and he had tons of friends. But his parents didn’t want to wipe off his identity. In fact, they always made sure to remind him of the little things they knew about his upbringing.
Supposedly, Steven’s dad was ethnically Hawaiian. But aside from a few key details, like the exact date of birth of the child, and the date of birth that was written on the birth certificate, Steven’s parents were totally clueless about where he had come from. To say that Steven didn’t look like a Hawaiian native is an understatement, but his adoptive parents shared with him everything they had been told about his past.
Some parents decide to tell the kids they’ve been adopted at an early age. Others just “break it” to them when they’re old enough to understand it. But Steven’s parents had always been pretty honest with the little boy, wanting to make sure he’d embrace his unique heritage. On September 23, they celebrated the day he came into their lives, dubbing their made up holiday, “Came To Be Our Boy Day.” Little did they know that a few years later, Steven’s story would end up making headlines.
But the details surrounding his adoption were pretty blurry. For starters, the birth certificate they gave the parents had listed his date of birth a year after the child was born. There were few bits and pieces of information about his time in the orphanage and how he got there. Even as a young professional, Steven continued to wonder about his origins. But once Steven did a little digging around, he would unveil one of the biggest mysteries of his life, and the nation’s.
As a married 30-year-old man, he decided to gift himself a DNA test in order to try to dig up his past. The test results ended up shedding some light on his upbringing, which unsurprisingly, proved that he didn’t have native Hawaiian roots. He was in fact, Scandinavian. Now Steven was left with more questions than answers, but this was only the beginning of something bigger than him.
On one of those days, a missing person’s story was making the rounds, and Steven was curious. He started reading the story of Carlina White, and how her suspicions surrounding her identity had led her on an investigation that ended up solving a missing persons case. The woman who had raised Carlina wasn’t her mother. She was indeed, her kidnapper. Steven didn’t think for a moment that his own parents had been involved in anything of that nature. But it did raise more questions. He decided to try and see if anything would come out of Googling his name. At this point, any information was better than nothing!
The article suggested visiting the missing person’s database, Missingkids.com, in order to search for updates and news about a potential missing person. Steven entered his date of birth as a way to filter out all the missing person cases that matched his search. His eyes scanned the results, anxiously looking for his name. And even though he didn’t find it, he did stumble into something so unbelievable, he had to do a double take.
That name produced zero results. But his search did produce a name he’d never heard before: “Marx Panama Moriarty-Barnes.” The site reported the little kid went missing on July, 1977. Every little detail about the way Marx had been taken seemed to match the time Steven arrived at the orphanage. An artist had even created a depiction of what Marx would grow up to look like as an adult. Steven’s heart started pounding hard when he saw the 3d render. The similarities were truly uncanny.
It was like looking in the mirror! He had to do a double take to understand what was going on. But the situation was so bizarre, that he even stopped himself from believing this could’ve been him. He chalked it up to nothing but a bizarre coincidence. Still, he wanted other people’s input, so he showed the photo to friends and family. Would they think he was grasping at straws? Or did it really look like Steven’s doppelganger?
The render was a dead ringer for Steven! They motivated him to keep digging all he could find about that missing person’s case. Even his wife, Tracey, was on board, and pushed him to keep looking for more information. At that moment, Steven didn’t really believe it was nothing more but a coincidence, but his gut instinct told him he was on the right path. Then one day, he decided to call the Honolulu Police Department.
No one would’ve expected to receive a call, almost 3 decades after the missing person’s report, particularly so out of the blue! They couldn’t help but shrug it off as a strange coincidence, but the Honolulu Police Department still wanted to help Steven determine his identity. But now he need a lot of patience, as he would have to take another DNA test, and the results wouldn’t be back for at least 8 months.
California native, Mark Barnes, was a Vietnam War veteran, and he was working in Hawaii along with his girlfriend, Charlotte Moriarty and their baby Marx. The little family of three was starting to get settled, as Mark was building a home. He loved the way it was turning out. He had even built a deck in the front yard. He was even decorating it with flowers, trying to make it as homely as possible. One day, his girlfriend Charlotte said she was taking the baby for a walk. He didn’t think much about it, but little did he know that the two would disappear from the face of the earth.
Meanwhile, Charlotte told Mark they’d visit a store three blocks away. She put the baby in a stroller, and headed off. Mark didn’t think much of it. After all, Hau’ula was a pretty chill and peaceful residential area. Mark started to realize that something went wrong, as Charlotte and the baby hadn’t returned yet, and it’s been hours since he’s seen them.
Everyone knew she was a free-spirit, but their disappearance took everyone by surprise. What if something happened to them? They could’ve simply gotten lost, and what if anyone had taken them? Three weeks had gone by when Mark decided to report them to the local authorities. The Oahu police turned every stone, looking for them. They printed out missing persons flyers, to no avail. Charlotte and the baby were gone.
This led him to search all over the Hawaiian Islands. But he never found anything that would help him. Were they still in Hawaii? Was it possible that they were back in the mainland or had they moved abroad? Were they even alive? And if they were, were they safe or injured? Decades would past before Barnes would have any concrete answers as to why his family had seemingly vanished. Not knowing the truth left him devastated. Over the years, he expected a knock on the door. Even a phone call would have sufficed. But the truth about what happened was unimaginable.
When Charlotte Moriarty walked out of their home in Hau’ula with the baby, she took the infant to the other side of the island. They were eventually spotted trying to break into someone else’s home, and someone called the authorities. When the cops arrived, Moriarty used the alias Jane Amea and used Tenzin as her son’s name. That way, authorities would never suspect that Tenzin was actually Marx, the missing baby. She even told the cops that the baby’s father was Hawaiian and gave them a fake date of birth. Her deception prevented Barnes from finding her and the child. But what was her endgame?
This happened immediately after Moriarty was taken to a psychiatric hospital. But the cops had no idea that Tenzin had been reported missing or that his father was looking for him. And neither did the orphanage staff. Barnes and his son were living 30 miles apart from one another. But he was unaware that his baby boy was all alone in an orphanage on the other side of the same island. Eventually, Moriarty was released from the psychiatric hospital. She disappeared a short time later and her whereabouts remained a mystery. But one other person would eventually help to uncover the truth.
But Monnheimer had been living with her biological dad in New Mexico, when her baby brother vanished in 1977. It was very difficult for her to grow up knowing that her mother and baby brother were both missing. Their unexplained disappearance had left her horribly traumatized. And she would always search for her long-lost relatives in the crowd. But as she grew older, she realized she had to do more. So, in 2001, Monnheimer took a crucial step forward.
This was what led her to the realistic sketch that Steven Jr. had found 10 years later. Monnheimer may not have realized it at the time, but her determination was about to blow the missing person’s case wide open. If Monnheimer hadn’t insisted that the case be reopened, Steven Jr. would have never had a reason to suspect that he was actually Marx Panama Barnes-Moriarty. And then, the results came in.
This was no longer a missing person’s case now that the truth was finally revealed. William Steven Tenzin Carter was stunned now that he finally learned he was born Marx Panama Barnes-Moriarty. Throughout most of his life, Steven Jr. had been a missing person. But he didn’t have a clue, and neither did his adoptive parents. But now that the truth was out, the big reveal turned into a media frenzy as it made headlines on the island and beyond. Now it was all up to him to decide what to do next.
It was rough on them emotionally because they had discovered that the baby they had taken into their home had been a missing person all these years. Soon, the press was all over this incredible story, but Steven Jr’s adoptive mom felt terrible. The Daily Mail quoted Pat saying, “I felt like we’d taken someone else’s child, though that wasn’t true.” It became pretty clear that this was not going to be one of those tear-jerking family reunions that we see on TV, at least, not right away. It took seven months for Steven to feel ready, and then, one day, he was.
Once he processed the news, he realized he had one important step to take. He had to meet his biological family. So, he contacted his older half-sister, Jennifer Monnheimer. She was elated to hear from her baby brother, but she was also stunned. After all these years, the trauma of not knowing what happened to her brother was over and so was her search. At first, they got to know each other through hour-long phone conversations. That’s how they learned about things like their likes and dislikes. But then she asked him to speak with one other person.
And yet, he longed for that moment he had hoped for since his child went missing. Then, the day had arrived. His grown son was on the other line. Barnes was shocked, and the first word out of his mouth was “Wow.” Anxiously, he asked Steven Jr. if he knew where his bio-mom was. But Steven didn’t have a clue either. Barnes had assumed that Moriarty had relocated somewhere to raise Marx all by herself. But that wasn’t the case. Not that it mattered anymore, but there were a lot of unanswered questions.
He didn’t know what motivated his bio-mom, Moriarty to simply pick him up and take him away from his father like that. What kind of mother was she to deny him the chance to know his dad? Was she mentally ill? Was she suffering from postpartum depression? Unfortunately, these were questions he would likely never learn the answers to. But at least, one of the longest missing child cases in American history had a happy ending.