State: New York
Cirumstances: Douglas was last seen on July 10, 1971 in Essex County, New York. He was visiting his uncle at the family’s 12,500-acre estate in the Santonini Preserve in Newcomb at the time. On the day of his disappearance, Douglas went on a family hike in the Adirondack wilderness. His uncle sent him back home to change into long pants at 3:30 p.m., as his shorts wouldn’t protect him against the poison ivy on the trail. Douglas had gone hiking many times in the local area and was very familiar with it, and it was only a short distance back to camp. He never arrived there, however, and has never been heard from again.
An extensive search, lasting six weeks and largely financed by Douglas’s wealthy family, turned up no indication of his whereabouts. He was in the third grade at the time of his disappearance, and resided in Baldwinsville, New York. His loved ones describe him as a happy, healthy, normal child. Although there were rumors that foul play was involved in his case, most investigators believe Douglas became lost or died in an accident in the wilderness. His case remains unsolved. [Charley Project]
But the police theory all along has been that Douglas got lost, and in the unforgiving woods of the Adirondacks, in an area rife with swamps, bogs and other areas that could swallow a young boy whole.
“It is such a wilderness there,” said State Police Senior Investigator Patrick Kelleher, who is overseeing the investigation as it heads into a fifth decade. “Over the years we’ve heard different things, but none of them have led us to the conclusion that he was kidnapped and murdered.”
Investigators have occasionally run down leads in the case that have come in in recent years.
In 1993, a lake bed in Lewis County was searched based on a woman’s claim that a boy had been kidnapped, killed and buried there, but nothing was found.
An island on Newcomb Lake was also searched, according to State Police.
“We’ve followed leads that have come in over the years but none of them have panned out to be anything,” Kelleher said.
Many of Douglas’ relatives have died in the years that have passed, including his father. The family sold the property months after the boy’s disappearance.
The disjointed initial search effort was credited for prompting the state Department of Environmental Conservation to put more money into more thorough search-and-rescue coordination.
Newcomb, New York (Essex County)
Case Report – NamUs MP # 8036
First name: Douglas
Middle name: John
Last name: Legg
Nickname/Alias: Doug, Dougie
Date last seen: July 10, 1971
Age last seen: 8 years
Age now: 51 years
Height: 3 ft
Weight: 76 pounds
Hair color: Blonde
Left eye color: Blue
Right eye color: Blue
Medical Conditions: None