Dorothy Durflinger was 18 and unmarried when her son was born in 1922. She was struggling financially, so she left her boy, who she’d named George Francis Brown, in the care of a married couple, Albert and Margaret Horr, when he was fifteen months old.
Dorothy married George Brown in January 1925 and she wanted her son back. She made seven court attempts to have him returned to her, but the court declared she had an “inability or neglect” to care for him and she was refused custody every time. Out of desperation, Dorothy and her husband snatched little George and ran off to Omaha, Nebraska, on June 5, 1927. They were captured a month later, charged with kidnapping and sent back to Denver.
The arrest of the Browns was covered in the local newspaper:
Governor McMullen honored a requisition Saturday from the governor of Colorado for the return of George C. Brown and Dorothy Brown from Omaha to Denver on the charge of kidnapping Clarence Brown, five years of age, alleged to be their own child. The complaint alleges that the child was placed in the legal custody of Albert A. Horr, as an incorrigible child, by the order of the juvenile court of Denver and that the Browns stole and secreted the child June 5 and had left the state of Colorado and were reported to have been arrested and held at Omaha.
— Lincoln Journal Star (Lincoln, Nebraska), July 9, 1927
It seems that labeling a child “incorrigible” was a legal way to take him from his birth parents. Dorothy and George never got custody of little George. He was returned to the Horrs, who adopted him and changed his legal name to Clarence Albert Horr.
By 1930 Dorothy worked as a chambermaid in a rooming house in Pueblo, Colorado. Her husband didn’t live with her and may have been in prison for the kidnapping. Her son lived with the Horrs and their second adopted son, Paul, about 120 miles north of Pueblo in the Denver suburb of Englewood.
George Brown had remarried by 1942. He moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where he worked in a hardware store.
The stolen boy grew up with his adoptive family, graduated from high school, went to college, got married and worked as a chemist.
Featured photo: George Brown’s mugshot photo taken by the Omaha Police Department on July 8, 1927. Collection of the author.