Was Nicholas Barclay ever found? Start Here

Nicholas Barclay

The Imposter on Netflix tells the story of Nicholas Barclay’s disappearance and the con artist who pretended to be the missing teenager. The mind-blowing documentary shows how Frederic Bourdin expertly impersonated Barclay, living as the boy for five months before authorities uncovered his ruse. 

No one was alarmed when Barclay vanished from his neighborhood in San Antonio, Texas. Nicholas was a delinquent who often fled from home. However, when Nicholas failed to show up 48 hours later, his mother grew worried and reported the disappearance. 

Three years later, the family received a call claiming Nicholas had been found alive in Spain. However, the boy in Spain wasn’t Nicholas – he was serial imposter Frederic Bourdin. 

Nicholas Barclay has never been found, and authorities suspect he is dead

After receiving the call, Barclay’s sister flew to Spain to collect his long-lost brother. ‘Nicholas’ arrived home and told a harrowing tale involving kidnap and induction into a child sex trafficking ring. He said he was discovered by authorities after fleeing from his captors. 

The kid from Spain looked like Barclay – he even had Nicholas’ tattoos. However, the similarities between him and Nicholas seemingly ended there. 

Nicholas had blue eyes and blonde hair; this boy was brunette, brown-eyed, and spoke with a French accent. ‘Barclay’ explained the changes by alleging that the kidnappers had dyed his hair and altered his eye color to conceal his identity. The family brushed off the behavioral changes as the effects of trauma. 

Barclay’s family wanted him back, so they can be forgiven for ignoring the inconsistencies in the boy’s story. Thankfully, Charlie Parker, a private investigator, saw through Bourdin’s lies. 

Parker compared photos of Nicholas and the impostor and found that their ears didn’t match. Furthermore, he knew that it was nearly impossible to change eye color, and kidnappers rarely went through the trouble of dying the victim’s hair. 

Parker’s findings convinced the court to compel ‘Nicholas’ to provide blood and fingerprints for the investigation. The samples proved that the boy who returned home wasn’t Nicholas Barclay. 

After the revelation, authorities grew suspicious that the family murdered Nicholas Barclay. Bourdin fueled suspicion, claiming the Barclay family was guilty. He asserted that they knew he was an imposter but kept him around to keep authorities from discovering the truth. 

The prime suspect was Barclay’s brother, Jason, the last person Barclay spoke to before disappearing. Barclay had requested his brother for a ride home from the basketball court, but Jason told him to walk home. It was the last time the family heard from Barclay. Jason died of a drug overdose in 1998. 

Nicholas has never returned – authorities believe he is dead, while some people opine that he lives in San Antonio under a different identity. 

Frederic Bourdin spent six years in prison for pretending to be Nicholas Barclay

Frederic Bourdin
Frederic Bourdin

Frederic Bourdin was an expert impersonator who’d honed his skills since childhood. He was 23 years old when he claimed to be Nicholas, but due to his slender frame and boyish face, he passed as a teenager. 

“I would speak with a smaller voice and because I was still looking younger, [my] physical appearance wasn’t a big problem,” Bourdin told Vice News. “I received a picture where I saw a big blond boy, blue eyes, and I said, ‘Well, this is it, I’m going to prison.’”

Bourdin was on Interpol’s wanted list when US authorities uncovered his scam. He was tried and sentenced to six years in prison for impersonating Nicholas Barclay. 

After his release in 2003, Bourdin returned to France, where he attempted to masquerade as a missing teen who’d disappeared in 1996. He eventually gave up his life of crime and married a French woman named Isabelle. The pair are separated and co-parent their five children. He told Vice News:

“I’ve got five children. There’s no greater joy than to look after my children. I’ve been to many countries and I want my kids to see the beautiful places that I’ve seen. I want them to be happy and to know not too much like me, but more than a little.”