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Missing Chester Ralph Wetmore
Chester, circa 1986; James Barnes
Missing Since 05/26/1986
Classification Endangered Missing
Date of Birth Used 08/21/1971 (49)
Age 14 years old
Height and Weight 6'0, 145 pounds
Clothing/Jewelry Description Jeans, a blue checkered shirt and boots.
Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian male. Blond hair, brown eyes.
Details of Disappearance Chester was last seen leaving his family's residence in Bradenton, Florida during the evening hours of May 26, 1986. He has never been heard from again.
James P. Barnes, a death row inmate in Florida, confessed to Chester's murder in the first episode of Werner Herzog's documentary miniseries, On Death Row, in 2012. A photo of Barnes is posted with this case summary. He was sentenced to death for the murder of Patricia Miller; he was already serving a life sentence for the murder of his estranged wife when he confessed to Miller's murder.
Six weeks after his first interview with Herzog, Barnes wrote Herzog a letter confessing to killing and burying Chester. He also confessed to the unsolved 1990 murder of Brenda Joyce Fletcher, correctly identifying the place where her body had been found. He has never been charged in either case, however, and is still awaiting execution.
Some agencies may list September 17, 1989 or May 27, 1986 as the date of Chester's disappearance. Some may classify his case as that of an endangered runaway.
Investigating Agency / Department