Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

David in 1974 (left) and age progression of David (right)

Real Name: David Shipenburg
Case: Lost Son
Location: New York
Date: May 1974


Details: David Shipenburg is the son of Marianne Malky and Steve Shipenburg. In May of 1974, Steve abducted David and Marianne has searched for them ever since. Steve and Marianne had divorced in December of 1973, and she received full custody, while Steve received visitation rights. While she was in a New Jersey hospital, Marianne left David with her sister. In May, Steve took him to New York for a routine visit. That night, Steve called Marianne and told her that she would never see David again. When she was released from the hospital, she went to New York to find David but to no avail. However, a month later, David called Marianne and was apparently crying. She told him that she would find him.

Marianne Malky

She then tracked down what she believed was Steve's address, and staked out the building until he left in his car, with David in the back seat. She started running after the car and caught up with it at a red light. She beat at the glass with her purse in an attempt to get her son. However, the light turned green and they drove away. It was the last time she ever saw them.
She has been searching for him for over twenty-five years. During her search, she has met with hundreds of parents who have had their children kidnapped by their former spouses. In 1990, she started an organization named Voice For The Children, helping families deal with parental abductions. The group also lobbies state and national legislative bodies for the passage of legislative acts addressing family abductions.
After the abduction, Steve's sister-in-law was subpoenaed. She claimed that she had raised David in Manhattan for several years after the abduction and that his name was changed to "David Kaplan." Marianne's private investigator located a man that matched David's description. However, when she met him, she realized that he was not her son. She still is hoping to find him.
Extra Notes: This segment was featured as part of the August 22, 2001 episode.
Results: Solved. In December 2005, after more than thirty years, Marianne received an anonymous tip that enabled her to contact David's wife. She gave DNA samples from David that proved that he was Marianne's son. However, David himself didn't want any contact with his mother, most likely due to the brainwashing that he had endured from his father. Although the result was very heartbreaking, she accepted it as closure to her search.