Left and Right: Bobby circa, 1963
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: August 3, 1963
Missing From: Colville, Stevens County, Washington
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date Of Birth: circa, 1959
Age: 4 years old
Height and Weight: 2’8″ and 30 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian Male, Blonde hair, Bobby is allergic to Chocolate and it’s susceptible to severe ear and bronchial infections, he was known to have trouble with pronouncing the letters “C” and “R” sounds
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A pair of blue swimming shorts
Details of Disappearance
Bobby was last seen in Colville, Washington on August 3rd 1963. He was camping with his family at the Deep Lake Resort (now-defunct) in norther Stevens County. He was with his father and mother, Howard and Edna Panknin. His three older brothers, Bill Jim, and Ted Panknin. Bobby was hiking with Edna, Jim, and Bill at the time of his disappearance. They were hiking on a logging road near the campsite.
No one else was on the road at the time they were on it. Bill left the road to go and see a small creek that he thought sounded like the Laughing Brook in the Thornton Burgess Children’s stories that the family enjoyed reading in 1963. Edna followed Bill towards the creek and instructed Jim to stay on the road with Bobby.
Jim, however, decided to follow his mother and brother, leaving Bobby alone on the road. Bill quickly found that the creek wasn’t what he was expecting and they all returned to where Bobby was last standing. They were gone for a matter of minutes, likely five and were only a hundred feet away. By the time they came back, Bobby was gone. He was never seen or heard from again afterwards.
Ted and Howard were fishing when Bobby disappeared and soon found out what had happened. Ted searched the road that Bobby had gone missing from but didn’t find any evidence of his whereabouts. Ted said he wished he had walked further down than he had because maybe Bobby was nearby. Police were called and they began to organize an extensive search for the boy.
The search for Bobby was likely the largest in Stevens County history, but no one ever found Bobby. Investigators utilized a bloodhound search dog and it sniffed Bobby’s shoe to detect his scent. The dog ran for about two miles while chasing Bobby’s scent and then stopped dead in its tracks at a fork in the road. He never went back on the trail.
Over 500 people were involved in the search for little Bobby. These searches were supervised by the US Forest Service Officials. Citizens from surround areas and the National Guard also looked for Bobby. Even a group of boys from Canada aided in the search only to find nothing. Another search involving Boy Scouts failed as well. A footprint was found about 170 yards away from where Bobby was last seen and it was small enough to fit in his shoe.
Those who knew Bobby stated he was a well behaved child and wouldn’t have wandered away. Investigators and the family believe Bobby might’ve been abducted by a stranger while he was alone. There’s little to no evidence to suggest this since no one saw any cars on the road. It’s mainly believed that Bobby was taken by a wild animal.
Bobby and his family lived in Spokane at the time of his disappearance. They had moved to the area from Wyoming in July of 1962. Howard was previously stationed in Turkey when he was in the Air Force before his son disappeared and he was retired in June of 1963. The family lived at N6116 G Street in 1963. Bobby’s parents died in 1999 but his brothers are still living. His case remains unsolved.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Stevens County Sheriffs Office 509-684-5296