The Mascot

The Mascot

Keith Moor, Insight Editor at the Herald Sun newspaper in Melbourne, Victoria recently published an article on The Mascot, the international bestselling biography of Holocaust survivor Alex Kurzem.

To read the article in pdf format, click here.

As Keith mentions, the foundation of the story is undeniably true.  Alex was adopted by the 18th Kurzeme Latvian Police Battalion in July 1942 as a child in the forest around Minsk. Yet my colleague, college professor Dr. Barry Resnick and I have uncovered much that lends doubts to his claims that he was a Jewish boy who survived the Nazi massacre of his family six months earlier; a massacre that in some version of the story was performed by members of the same battalion who adopted him.

Our research over the past two years has spanned Belarus, Latvia, Israel, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the United States.  After having interviewed dozens of people who both support Alex and who express disbelief at his story, and after having reviewed countless documents relevant to the story, we have found no proof to support Alex’s claims.

There are, however, four key pieces of evidence that could confirm Alex’s story. Unfortunately, they are being withheld by Alex himself:

Alex Kurzem and Erik Galperin who claim they are half-brothers.

1.     A Y-DNA test to compare Alex to Erik Galperin, to support Alex’s identification as Ilya Galperin, Erik’s half-brother.  Without a DNA confirmation that Alex is the son of Solomon Galperin, there is nothing to link him to the Galperin family murdered in Koidanov on October 21, 1941.

Alex has stated he would take such a test only if paid $100,000.

2.    A doctor’s certificate stating that he has been circumcised, supporting his statements that he feared for his life, lest his Jewishness be discovered by unsuspecting members of the Latvian battalion.

Alex has stated he would undergo a medical examination only if paid $50,000.

3.    A copy of his application to the Jewish Claims Conference for which he was required to provide a detailed narrative of his life during the Holocaust.  The Conference accepted his application and has been sending him monthly Article 2 reparations for the last dozen years or so. The Jewish Claims Conference will not release his application without his permission.

Alex has refused its release.

4.    Copies of two video testimonies Alex gave for the Holocaust Center in Melbourne in the late 1990s, recounting his Holocaust experiences before the release of The Mascot documentary and the publication of the book versions of the story.

Alex has refused its release.

Although Alex gives media interviews and lectures to school children about the Holocaust, he has placed an embargo on his testimonies, prohibiting anyone from viewing them in his lifetime without his permission.  What did he say on the videos that he has not already publicly revealed?

Alex Kurzem is the subject of an award-winning documentary that was turned into an international bestselling book, and that is now being produced as a $120M film starting either Sir Anthony Hopkins or Robin Williams as Alex in middle-age.  There is unquestionably millions of dollars exchanging hands in the success promotion of Alex’s story.  Yet as one of the most visible Holocaust survivors in the world, Alex refuses to provide evidence that his story is true.

When approached by people who believe Alex’s claims, we have freely shared our research materials, only to be met with unsupported opinions, work-arounds, and explain-aways about how the materials could not be used to disprove it.

Yet when we have asked these same people to provide documentation confirming the story, we have invariably been denied access.  These include Alex, his publisher Penguin, his literary agent Sterling Literalistic, and Hubert Caillard, the attorney representing the person who bought the movie rights.  The reasons vary.  We have been told “the documents are in the mail” or “I will send them to you when I get back from my trip” or “I don’t have to prove anything” or “I’ll think about it”. No matter.  Nothing has been forthcoming.

Personally, I have no bias for or against Alex’s claims.  I would be delighted if the controversy was indisputably resolved in his favor.  Yet as our research has progressed, we have found ourselves standing between two communities.  One is a community of doubters who have freely offered us whatever they have.  The other is a community of supporters who have refused access to whatever they could provide.

What are we to make of that?

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Indianapolis Birth Announcements – Sep 9 & 10, 1948

To continue with the Indianapolis birth announcements, here at the births that appeared in the Indianapolis Commercial on September 9 & 10, 1948.

Newspaper:  Indianapolis Commercial
Date published:

Name of parents                       Child            Date birth     Hosp    Address of parents

Gibbons, James & Nanette                                                           Meth
Duler, George & Dorothy                                                              Meth      (Boy & Girl Twins) Bear, Omar & Mary                                                                       Meth
Lang, William & Georgia                                                                Meth
Morrissey Jr., Joseph & Mary                                                      Meth
Jensen, Robert & Laura                                                                Meth
Riggs, William & Mary                                                                   Meth
Byrne, Ralph & Margaret                                                              Vinc
Cahen, Emerson & Phyllis                                                             Vinc
Morgan Jr., Oliver & Geneva                                                        Vinc
Coble, Levi & Marie                                                                        Vinc
Cullom, William & Virginia                                                             Vinc
Greer Robert & Eleanor                                                                 Vinc
Messmer,  George & Gyda                                                            Vinc
Sterrett, Donald & Martina                                                           Vinc
Wolfe, Clarence & Mary                                                                 Vinc
Maher, Herman & Elizabeth                                                         Vinc
Leach, Russell & Alice                                                                    Vinc
Jordan, William & Elizabeth                                                          Vinc
Eubanks, Donald & Marie                                                              Vinc
Dragoo, Lloyd & Eleanor                                                                Vinc
Doom, James & Martha                                                                 Vinc
Dinwiddie, Robert & Pansy                                                           Vinc
Cooper, Charles & Pauline                                                             Vinc
Bornhorst, Virgil & Helen                                                              Vinc

  Indianapolis Commercial
Date published:

Name of parents                       Child            Date birth     Hosp    Address of parents

Zimmermann, John & Betty                                                        Vinc
Mace, George & Ilene                    Blaine             2 Sept 48       Meth
Foxworthy, James & Mildred                                                      Meth
Wiggins, Lawrence & Ruth                                                           Met
Lincoln, Willie & Elizabeth                                                            At Home    522 1/2 Douglas 

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Benjaman Kyle – Indianapolis Birth Announcements, Sep 7 & 8, 1948

Here is a continuation of the list of the birth announcements published in the Indianapolis papers around the date of Benjaman Kyle’s birth, believed to be 29 August 1948.

Today’s entry covers 7 Sep through 8 Sep 1948.  There were no announcements on Sep 4 & 5.  The names reported on Sep 6 are the same as those reported on Sep 7, so I have skipped Sep 6.

I have not researched many of these names.  Ideally, I’d like to find as many of the individuals mentioned in these announcements as possible. As I get more information on them, I will update this post.

If you recognize anyone on this list, please contact me at immediately at

Key (1949 addresses, with current zip codes):

Cole = William H. Coleman Hospital for women, 1000 Michigan St., Indianapolis, 46202
Meth = Methodist Hospital, 1604 N. Capital Ave., Indianapolis, 46202
IGen = Indianapolis General Hospital, 960 Locke St., Indianapolis, 46202
Vinc = St. Vincent’s Hospital, 120 West Fall Creek Pkwy N. Dr., Indianapolis, 46208

Newspaper:  Indianapolis Commercial
Date published:

Name of parents                       Child            Date birth     Hosp    Address of parents

Trotter, Joseph & Lillian                                                               IGen      526 Eugene St.
Bohannan Jr., Hutson & Opal                                                       IGen
Trotter, Keith & Iva                                                                       IGen
Johnson, Samuel & Mary                                                               IGen      942 Parker Ave.
Woods, Lee & Irene                                                                        IGen      1029 N. Traub Ave
Davenport, James & Martha                                                         IGen
Taylor, Theodore & Patricia                                                          IGen      1926 N. Capitol
Pruitt, Vewin & Dorothy                                                                IGen
Polley Jr., Sherman & Jean                                                            IGen     2262 N. Kenwood
Johnson, Henry & Laura                                                                IGen
Johnston, Hisen & Pauline                                                             IGen      2413 N. Capitol Ave.

Newspaper:  Indianapolis Commercial
Date published:

Name of parents                       Child            Date birth     Hosp    Address of parents

Durham, Benjamin & Margaret                                                    Home     101 Sheridan
Woods, George & Irene                                                                 Home      1334 Yandes
Henson, Raymond & Mattie                                                          Home     1516 Bellfontaine
Cline, Charles & Ella                                                                       Home      1069 Wright
Brown, Douglas & Irene                                                                 Home      810 Blake
Dausch, Charles and Louise                                                           Home     1522 Gimber
Wright, Charles & Anna                                                                  Home     2020 Hovey
Reynolds, William & Frances                                                         Home     2134 Arsenal
Batton, Marshall & Drvena [sic]                                                    Home     2214 Howard

Pirtle, Earl & Dora                                                                            IGen      353 Arbor Ave.
Major, Walter & Francis                                                                  IGen
Shirels, Harmus & Betty                                                                  IGen
Cough, Sam & Hildegard                                                                  IGen
Lake, Thomas & Lena                                                                      IGen
Kelley, Kirk & Edna                                                                          IGen
Waithall, John & Geneva                                                                 IGen
Gassett, Marvel & Lucille                                                                IGen
Byrd, Clarence & Blanche                                                                IGen

Hittle, Max & Rosemary                                                                 Vinc
Kingery, Robert & Flora                                                                  Vinc
Essig, Louis & Mildred                                                                     Vinc
Black, Charles & Norma                                                                   Vinc
Lancaster, Merle & Mavis                                                               Vinc
Kelley, Thomas & Sue                                                                      Vinc
Whaley, Herbert & Vivian                                                               Vinc
Percifield, Donald & Nancy                                                              Vinc
Plummer, Harold & Dorothy                                                           Vinc
McClary, John & Sue                                                                        Vinc
Johnson, L. N. H. & Genell                                                               Vinc
Balay, Kenneth & Mary                                                                    Vinc

Mathews, Howard & Carolyn                                                          Meth
Weaver, Albert & Luvada                                                                Meth
Chappell, Heath & Dorothy                                                             Meth
Manier, Robert & Dorothy                                                              Meth
Johnson, Don & Rosie                                                                      Meth
Scaggs, Robert & Dorothy                                                               Meth
Adams, Woodrow & Elizabeth     Gerald W.                                 Meth
Bohr, Richard & Norma                                                                   Meth
Raab, Bervin & Betty                                                                       Meth
Wurtz, Edward & Harriet                                                                Meth
Elsea, Paul & Elizabeth                                                                     Meth
Zartman, Charles & Lois                                                                  Meth
King, Louis & Alma                                                                           Meth
Kemp, Stephen & Joyce                                                                   Meth
Neely, Dwight & Peggy                                                                     Meth
Rushton, Raymond & Martha                                                         Meth
White, Milburn & Dorothy                                                               Meth
Lepper, Jesse & Clara                                                                       Meth
Pierson, Newton & Ruth                                                                   Meth
Robinson, Orval & Blanche                                                               Meth
Munsey, Charles & Helen                                                                 Meth
Eddy, Fred & Madonna                                                                     Meth
Leck, Carl & Ruth                                                                              Meth
Chester, Herman & Victoria                                                             Meth
Hill, Gotha & Evelyn                                                                          Meth

Wheasler, William & Alice                                                                 Cole
Blanckerts, Howard & Barbara                                                        Cole
Colvin, John & Opal                                                                           Cole
Kemp, John & Juanita                                                                       Cole
Power, John & Margaret                                                                   Cole
Snyder, William & Ruth                                                                    Cole
Renner, Donald & Thelma                                                                Cole
Fisher, Patrick & Marguerite                                                          Cole
Kellams, John & Alice                                                                       Cole
Hagen, Robert & Helen                                                                    Cole
McLain, Robert & Margery                                                             Cole
Cunningham, Charles & Rosemary                                                Cole
Sharer, Edward & Dorothy                                                              Cole
Beard, Richard & Nellie                                                                    Cole

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Benjaman Kyle – Indianapolis Birth Announcements – 2 Sep – 3 Sep 1948

Here is a continuation of the list of the birth announcements published in the Indianapolis papers around the date of Benjaman Kyle’s birth, believed to be 29 August 148.

Today’s entry covers 2 Sep through 3 Sep 1948.  I have not researched many of these names.  As I get more information, I will update the list.

If you recognize anyone on this list, please contact me at immediately at

Key (1949 addresses, with current zip codes):

Cole = William H. Coleman Hospital for women, 1000 Michigan St., Indianapolis, 46202
Meth = Methodist Hospital, 1604 N. Capital Ave., Indianapolis, 46202
IGen = Indianapolis General Hospital, 960 Locke St., Indianapolis, 46202
Vinc = St. Vincent’s Hospital, 120 West Fall Creek Pkwy N. Dr., Indianapolis, 46208

Where I have parentheses around a child’s name, the name is probably correct, but should be confirmed.

Date published: 2-Sep-48

Name of parents                       Child            Date birth     Hosp    Address of parents

Boyd, Charles & Betty                                                                    Home    4252 Ralston
Woolwine, Delbert & Betty                                                            Vinc       1016 S. Rybolt Ave
Scott, James & Ina                        James C.         24-Aug-48      Vinc       239 S. State St.
McDaniel, Cecil & Bertha                                                                Vinc      Tyndall Towne
Shoemaker, Don & Mary                                                                Vinc
Rogers, Leo & Dorothy                                                                   Vinc
Fulmer, Richard & Regina                                                              Vinc
Workinger, Verner Jr. & Josephine                                              Vinc      230 N. Oxford
Baire, Joseph & Katherine                                                              Vinc
Squillace, Frank & Anna               Frank G Jr   1-Aug-48           Vinc    810 Greer St.

Date published: 3-Sep-48

Name of parents                       Child            Date birth     Hosp    Address of parents

Spaulding, William & Helen                                                           Meth
Quarasso, Nicholas & Hattie                                                          Meth
Schabel, Theodore & Connie                                                          Meth
Ward, Jack & Margie                                                                      Meth
Kelley, Howard & Ruth                                                                   Meth
Wease, Paul & Jeannette                                                                Meth
Huddleson, Chris & Dorothy                                                          Meth
Brooks, Edward & Florence                                                           Meth
Houghton, Woodburn & Ruth      James P.       24-Aug-48        Meth    6302 E Washington
Tatom, John & Nina                      James E.       26-Aug-48        Meth
Goldstein, Joseph & Victoria                                                          Meth
Newhouse, George & Mary         (Donald J)     26-Aug-48        Meth    512 E North St.
Peacy, Robert & Marthalyn                                                           Meth
Meese, Robert & Mary                                                                   Meth
Jones, Carlis & Mary                                                                       Meth
Hefner, Harold & Marcea             Harold W Jr 24-Aug48          Meth    1921 N Centennial
Butcher, Kenneth & Wilma                                                            Meth
Hostetler, John & Iva                                                                     Meth

There were no birth announcements for Sept 4-5.  The next lists will be for Sept 6-7, 1948.

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Benjaman Kyle – Indianapolis Birth Announcements – 31 Aug & 1 Sep 1948

In an ideal world, we would be able to identify all these children but one.  That one would reveal Benjaman Kyle’s identity.

If you recognize anyone on this list, please contact me at immediately at

Key (1949 addresses, with current zip codes):

Cole = William H. Coleman Hospital for women, 1000 Michigan St., Indianapolis, 46202
Meth = Methodist Hospital, 1604 N. Capital Ave., Indianapolis, 46202
IGen = Indianapolis General Hospital, 960 Locke St., Indianapolis, 46202
Vinc = St. Vincent’s Hospital, 120 West Fall Creek Pkwy N. Dr., Indianapolis, 46208

Where I have parentheses around a child’s name, the name is probably correct, but should be confirmed.

Date published: 31-Aug-48

Name of parents                       Child            Date birth     Hosp    Address of parents

Durocher, Raymond & Evelyn    David K (R)   3-Aug-48         Vinc
Sullivan, John & Maryanne                                                           Vinc
Franz, Henry & Anna                                                                     Vinc
Hostetter, Benjamin & Kathy                                                        Vinc
Seeman, Paul & Mayann                                                                Vinc
Elstrod, Fedeick J. & Beckwith    Kim E.            1 Sep-48          Vinc     256 N. Arsenal Ave.
Swain, George & Anne                  (Richard O.)                            Vinc     302 Boulevard Pl.
Beck, Burton & Elizabeth                                                               Vinc

Date published: 1-Sep-48

Name of parents                       Child            Date birth     Hosp    Address of parents

Stanfield, Willie & Anna                                                                  Home    3250 California St.
Gordon, Lawrence & Juanita                                                         Home    2617 Highland Pl.
Shout, Herman & Elsie                                                                    IGen
Caver, Edward & Novella                                                               IGen
Powell, Harold & Helen IGen
Davis, William & Marjorie                                                               Cole
Harris, Donald & Mary                                                                    Cole
Robinson, Robert & Mary                                                               Cole
Rushton, Harold & Agnes                                                                Cole
Louks, Lessel & Hazel                   Randall K.     24-Aug-48        Cole
Fultz, Charles & Richey                                                                   Cole
Maloy, Harold & Phares                                                                  Cole
Wesner, Marshal & Mary             James A.       21-Aug-48        Meth     1219 Edwards
Bennett, John & Olivia                                                                    Meth
McCullough, John & Esther                                                            Meth
DeFelice, Victor & Rosalyn                                                             Meth
Hampton, Arthur & Mary            David A.        22-Aug-48        Meth
Lewis, Glen & Nellie                                                                         Meth
Light, Harold & Maxine                                                                   Meth
Brown, Theodore Jr. & Phyllis                                                        Meth
Wetherald, Clarence & Elsie                                                            Meth
Giddens, Edward & Juanita         Edward B.     23-Aug-48         Meth
Sanders, Haroley & Susan                                                               Meth
Bailey, George Jr. & Jeannette                                                       Meth
Alberding, Clarence & Margaret  Eric M.          21-Aug-48         Meth
Knapp, Robert & Helen                                                                    Meth
Jones, Raymond & Doris                                                                  Meth
Brower, Joseph & Caroline                                                               Meth
Riggs Kenneth & Constance                                                             Meth
Hudson, John & Ella                                                                          Meth
Faucet, Russell & Shirley                                                                 Meth
Nelson, Thomas Jr. & Norvella                                                       Meth
Sacke, Arthur & Charlene                                                                Meth
Meggenhoffen, Thomas & Mary                                                      Vinc     4257 Boulevard Pl
Perkowski, Frank & Grace                                                                Vinc
Merriman, Charles & Dorothy                                                          Vinc
Mackay, William & Margaret                                                            Vinc
Armstrong, William & Margaret                                                       Vinc
Hartman, Paul & Joan                                                                        Vinc
Huber, Arvin & Ellen                                                                          Vinc
Horton, Lacy & Ernestine                                                                  Vinc
Pulliam, William & Barbara                                                               Vinc
Flack, Walter & Gertrude                                                                  Vinc
Harting, Merlin & Vivian (twins) (David & Neuill)                         Vinc
Hewson, Christian & Helen                                                                Vinc
Shaw, Howard & Burdette                                                                 Vinc
Bailey, Joseph & Charlene                                                                  Vinc

For further information:

Benjaman’s Wikipedia article
Benjaman’s Powell and Davidson Matches
Benjaman’s 23 and Me Matches
Benjaman Kyle – Close Calls Part I
Benjaman Kyle – Close Calls Part II
Benjaman Kyle – Close Calls Part III
Benjaman Kyle – Conclusion?
Benjaman Kyle – Indianapolis Birth Announcements – 30 Aug 1948

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Benjaman Kyle – Indianapolis Birth Announcements, 30 Aug 1948

In 1948, the Indy Star and the Indy Commercial newspapers published birth announcements obtained from either the county or from local hospitals.  The two papers published identical lists, although sometimes not on the same day, as the Commercial was not published on the weekends.

Carl Litel, a friend of mine who was adopted the day he was born in Indianapolis is 1946, told me that he was able to find his birth mother’s name by looking through the birth announcements in the newspaper that appeared around his birth date.  (See Close Calls, Conclusion?). This gave me hope that maybe Benjaman Kyle’s birth may have been announced in the paper, too. Benjaman is a well-known amnesiac who I have been trying to identify for a couple of years now.  (See Benjaman’s Wikipedia article for his full story.)

From what I was able to find, a birth was usually announced between one week and ten days after it occurred.  Only the names of the parents, the gender of the child, and the hospital where a birth occurred were included in an announcement.  The names of the child and his or her birth date were not listed.

Thanks to Monique Howell, Archivist at the Indiana State Library in Indianapolis, I was able to obtain copies of the birth announcements for August 27-September 10, 1948 that appeared in these two Indianapolis papers.  I was interested in these dates because Benjaman believes that he was born 29 August 1948.  I have been going through each list, carefully looking over the names, especially on the alert for the names Powell, Davidson, and King.  (See my previous posts on Benjamans Powell and Davidson Matches, and Parts I, II, III, and Conclusion? of my Close Calls articles. )  I have also been on the alert for the names that I have come across in the families of Benjaman’s 23 and Me Matches.

An interesting name popped up almost immediately.  On September 1, 1948, the Indy Commercial announced that a son was born to Harold and Helen Powell.  Harold was a mechanic at Hetherington Berner Corp, a metal working facility in Indianapolis.  The 1949 Indianapolis City Directory (available through shows that they lived at 1009 River Ave.  a few blocks west of the White River.  We checked a few more directories and found their addresses for later years:

1951             Harold G (Helen C.) Powell                                                             651 1/2 Arbor
1955             Harold G. (Helen C) Powell    Model Tool and Die Co.                645 Arbor Ave.
1957             Not listed
1959             Harold G (Ella A) Powell       Toolmaker, Ford Motor Co           106 1/2 Arsenal
1960             Harold G (Ruth A) Powell     Diemaker, Model Tool & Die Co   216 S Walcott

(We are not sure that the Harold G. who was married to Helen is the same one found in later directories married to Ruth-Ella.  If it is, he must have remarried around 1957).

A Powell who had a son around September 1, 1948 was certainly a lead worth following. Monique tried to locate obits for Harold G. Helen C., and Ruth-Ella A., but did not have any luck.  I looked in the Ancestry birth index for Indiana for any information on any of these people, but Marion Co. is not in its collection. I checked the census records for Indianapolis, and found a couple of Harold Powells, but could not identify either as the one listed in the city directory.  I checked the WWII enlistment records on Ancestry and the family trees, but had no luck there, either.

Monique was kind enough to search a few Indianapolis high school yearbooks.  The Library has many in its collection from Arlington, Shortridge, Crispus Attucks, Howe, Arsenal Tech, Washington, and Northwest.  Unfortunately, they are not online, and they are not allowed to go out on loan.  However, Monique agreed to browse through a few published in the late 1960s when Benjaman should have been in high school, keeping a eye out for Powells.

Here are a few of the possibilities that Monique came up with. Neither of us thought that any of these Powells resembled Benjaman.

Since copies of the birth announcements arrived, I have researched the more unusual names on lists.  Using, and websites such are I have identified about 1/3 of the boys, along with their birth dates, and the 1949 addresses of their parents.  I show the full below, hoping that someone might recognize someone on the list and provide enough information about him to rule him in or out as Benjaman’s relative. I would especially appreciate hearing from those who have had Y-DNA, mtDNA, or autosomal DNA tests done, and who recognize anyone on the list as a relative.

I plan to post a new list of birth announcements every day or every other day until I run out.  A new set of lists covering September 11-20, 1948 is on its way from Monique, and will be posted when they arrive.

If you recognize anyone on this list, please contact me immediately at

Key (showing 1949 addresses, with current zip codes):

Cole = William H. Coleman Hospital for women, 1000 Michigan St., Indianapolis, 46202
Meth = Methodist Hospital, 1604 N. Capital Ave., Indianapolis, 46202
IGen = Indianapolis General Hospital, 960 Locke St., Indianapolis, 46202
Vinc = St. Vincent’s Hospital, 120 West Fall Creek Pkwy N. Dr., Indianapolis, 46208

Date published:  30-Aug-48

Name of parents                       Child          Date birth     Hosp    Address of parents

Coffman, Starling and Phyllis      Brad A         20-Aug-48       Cole
Taylor, Earl & Elsie                                            14-Aug-48        Cole
Puckett, James & Peggy                                                              Cole
Jessup, Herchel & Ruby                                                               Cole
Greenberg, Alex & Ellen                                                               Cole
O’Sullivan, John & May                                                                Cole
Hollander, Sam’l M. & Theresa   Charles T.   14-Aug-48        Meth    3237 Broadway
Donahue,  John & Meriam                                                           Meth
Brown, Milton & Nettie                                                                Meth
Dice, Niles & Suzanne                  Jeffrey N.    22-Aug-48        Meth     44 S. Arlington Ave.
Putnam, James & Dorotha          Robert R.    22-Aug-48        Meth     781 E McCarty, Apt 31
Colvin, Joseph & Mary                                                                 Meth
Dephue, Forrest & Mary                                                             Meth
Archer, Norris & Louise              Robert W.    22-Aug-48       Meth     2164 E. Raymond St.
Ritter, Harry & Mary                                                                  Meth
Wills, William & Betty                                                                  Meth
Flack, Earl & Laura                                                                      Meth
Barr, James & Mary                                                                    Meth
Wall, Richard & Joyce                                                                  Meth
Wilson, Walter & Edna                                                                 Meth
Heldebrand, John & Mary                                                          Meth
Kocher, Clarence & Ruth             Myron W.    22-Aug-48      Meth      3915 Fletcher Ave.

For further information:

Benjaman’s Wikipedia article
Benjaman’s Powell and Davidson Matches
Benjaman’s 23 and Me Matches
Benjaman Kyle – Close Calls Part I
Benjaman Kyle – Close Calls Part II
Benjaman Kyle – Close Calls Part III
Benjaman Kyle – Conclusion?
Benjaman Kyle – Indianapolis Birth Announcements 31 Aug & 1 Sep 1948

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Benjaman Kyle – Close Calls, Conclusion?

All anyone knew about him was that he was born Robert Lee King in March 1949. To find Jennie King’s remaining son was going to be tough with so little information to go on.

Benjaman Kyle claims his birthdate is August 29, 1948 because he remembers that he was born exactly ten years before Michael Jackson.  But memory is a funny thing.

Carl Litel, Jennie’s second known son, was adopted the day he was born, February 5, 1946. Jennie held him only once before he was taken away.

Carl’s adoptive parents Joseph and Cecelia Litel provided a wonderful home for Carl and his adopted brother James.  The couple also had two natural children who were born several years later, a daughter Elizabeth, and a son John.  Carl’s parents encouraged him in everything he tried.  He studied chemical engineering at Purdue for 3 1/2 yrs, served in the Army, and worked as a substitute teacher after he was discharged.  He eventually went into the restaurant industry, and is now responsible for the design and construction of most of the Indian restaurants in Indianapolis and over half in the State of Indiana. He still lives in the old family home in Indianapolis.

When Carl’s father died in 1967, he discovered his birth certificate among a pile of papers his mother was sorting through from his father’s safety deposit box.  It gave his birth name as Patrick King.  He replaced the certificate in the pile exactly as he had found it without saying anything to his mother.  He did not want to upset her by bringing up a sensitive subject.

Partial List of Possible Jennie Kings

To find out more about his birth parents, Carl went down to the local library and looked up the birth announcements around his birth date of February 5, 1946. He found himself listed as the baby boy of Albert and Jennie King. Unfortunately, Carl discovered that there were 437 Jennie Kings in the census records who were about the same age as his mother, including at least three either living or who had died in Indianapolis.  One Jennie was married to a local doctor, but she was African American.  Two other Jennies were buried in Washington East Cemetery, but there was no reason for Carl to know that one of them was his mother.

Years passed.  In 1995 when his mother died, Carl tried again to find Jennie.  He had recently experienced heart problems, so it became important to him to know his medical history. But he immediately ran into a dead end.  Catholic Charities told him that in order for them to release his adoption records, he had to supply the death certificates of both his adoptive and his natural parents.  Since he had not been able to identify Jennie King, and did not know the name of his natural father, he was out of luck.

Catholic Charities of Indianapolis

Carl once had a chance to learn his father’s name.  The first time he visited Catholic Charities in 1995, the social worker he met with had a thick folder on her desk that contained all of his Catholic Charity adoption papers.  She excused herself and stepped out the room to take a call, leaving Carl with the folder in plain view.  He was tempted to peak inside it or to stuff it into his bag, but thought better of it.  He now realizes that the social worker probably stepped away to give him a chance to have a look at the contents of the folder without breaking the rules of confidentiality.  In a few minutes, his chance was gone.  The social worker returned.  Carl left the meeting knowing nothing more about his biological parents.

Time went by.  Every now and then, Carl would check in with the Catholic Charities to see if there was any chance he could get his adoption records.  Perhaps their policy had changed. He also tried to get the court records pertaining to his adoption from the State Government.  But no luck.

Then one day, Carl got a call from Katrina at Catholic Charities, informing him that she had received a request from someone named Michael who was searching for a missing brother. Katrina had noticed that Michael’s birth mother was named Jennie King.  Katrina put two and two together and realized that Carl and Michael probably had the same mother and that Carl might be Michael’s missing brother.  This was news to Carl, who had never known that Jennie had had any other children.

Jennie Lee King's Death Certificate

Shortly afterwards, Carl was surprised to receive a package in the mail from the State of Indiana containing his legal adoption papers.  Katrina had arranged to have them released. The package contained Jennie Lower’s death certificate, signed by her older brother Jim King with his address in Indianapolis.

Carl looked in the phone book, and was stunned to find that Jim King still lived in the same house he had lived in when Jennie died in 1967.  Carl also started calling all the Lowers in the city directory.  Each one immediately replied, “No, that’s not my family”, until he called Norman Lower who paused for quite a while before he identified Jennie as his mother.

There was confusion at first.  Norman explained that he was born in 1953.  In 1963 when he was ten, Jennie had introduced him to his older brother Michael Davis, whom she explained she had given birth to in 1938 shortly after she graduated from high school. The next surprise was Jennie’s announcement that she had had still another son Robert Lee King in 1949, whom she had given up for adoption when he was three and a half years old. Norman further explained that Mary Davis, Michael wife, had been searching for Bobbie Lee for years but could never locate him, as they did not know his adopted name.

Norman believed at first that Carl was the missing Bobbie Lee, but was surprised to find that Carl’s birth name was Patrick King. Carl was a fourth son that Jennie had not told anyone about.  Bobbie Lee was therefore still missing.

Just in case you are confused, here is a timeline of Jennie’s life that might straighten things out for you…

December 20, 1918     Jennie Lee King (Barnett Rudio) born in Louisville, KY
March 23, 1938            Michael Steven Davis (Michael James King) born in Indianapolis
March 18, 1943            Lillian King, Jennie’s mother dies.  Her life becomes unstable.
1943 -1952                  Michael stays with his mother and in foster homes
February 5, 1946        Carl Litel (Patrick King) born in Indianapolis, adopted at birth
March 1949                  Robert Lee King born in Indianapolis
1952                               Robert Lee King adopted by unknown parents
October 15, 1953         Norman Lower born in Indianapolis
December 29, 1964     Jennie King marries William Lower, Norman’s father
July 10, 1967                Jennie King Lower dies from injuries received in a car accident

Jennie final resting place in Washington East Cemetery, Indianapolis

Things happened fast after Carl spoke to Norman. The two brothers, along with Norman’s wife Denise arranged to meet at Jennie’s grave in the Washington East Cemetery on Memorial Day 2008.  Carl realized that he had actually located his mother years before, but had no reason to know it was her.

In the meantime, Katrina had obtained Michael’s permission to release a few of the papers in his file to Carl.  Evidently, the few documents that still existed about Carl had been mixed with Michael’s. The big folder that Carl had left on the social worker’s desk years before had been lost – perhaps destroyed by a tornado that swept through the county in the late 1990s.

In August 2008, Michael and Mary Davis traveled from their home in Alabama to meet Carl and Norman in Indianapolis.  The three brothers found they had a lot in common – including the still-missing brother Bobbie Lee.

Benjaman on Dr. Phil, October 2008

In October 2008, when Mary Davis saw Benjaman Kyle on the Dr. Phil television program, she contacted the show explaining that she believed that Benjaman could be her husband’s missing brother.  Benjaman told Dr. Phil that he was born in Indianapolis in 1948, was raised Catholic, and had three brothers. He also worked in the restaurant industry.  It seems like a good fit, but Mary did not receive a reply from the show to her request for a DNA test to see if Benjaman was related to her husband and his two known brothers.

The World's Greatest DNA Detective

In October 2009, a friend forwarded Mary the articles about me in the Orange County Register.  I had agreed to the interviews on the condition that the Register feature Benjaman in at least one of them.  Benjaman was included in two of the articles, “Is she the world’s greatest DNA detective?” on October 5, 2009, and “Can she find a name for a naked, beaten amnesiac?” on October 8, 2009. Mary recognized him immediately as the man she had seen on Dr. Phil, and contacted Tom Berg, the author of the series.

Benjaman Kyle, Age Regression

He forwarded her email to me. Coincidentally, we were on the east coast visiting with Benjaman and his advocate Katherine.  I answered Mary right away, realizing this was the best lead I had had for identifying Benjaman.  I hoped he was the missing Bobbie Lee King.

I notified the Center for Human Identification at the University of North Texas in Denton, TX about the King brothers, and started the process of placing an official request that they be DNA tested.  But this would take time.  Meanwhile, my job was to find out what had happened to Bobbie Lee.  But after talking to both Mike and Mary Davis and Carl, I realized that I had nothing to go on to search for him.  His last name could be anything.

A few weeks later, Carl was rereading his papers from Catholic Charities when he saw a note written in the margin that he had not noticed before.  The note consisted of three words that had been crossed out, a first and last name Angelo Bruno*, with the name “Lee” written right below.  Carl guessed that was probably the name of Bobbie’s adopted father that had been mistakenly written on Carl’s papers, then crossed out when the error was realized.

Angelo Bruno's* WWII Army Enlistment Record

I immediately found that there was an Angelo Bruno who had been a soldier stationed at Fort Benjaman Harrison to the east of Indianapolis.  He would have been in the area about the time Bobbie Lee was adopted.  He was also about the right age to be his father.

Searching on genealogical websites, I discovered that there is quite a large Bruno family in Upstate New York, including several Angelos.  I called a few of them, but none of them had an adopted son.

In desperation, I went on Facebook, where I found a Bruno group page.  I wrote to the owner who I was later told lived in South America.  She must have sent out an All Points Bulletin, because about a half hour later, I received a call from a Steve Bruno in Houston who told me he thought he knew the family I was searching for.  Steve told me that ten years earlier, as he was filling out his family genealogy, he had interviewed two unrelated Bruno families from Ohio, including one for Angelo. He told me that Angelo and his wife were deceased, but that his son John* and his daughter Margaret* were still alive. Steve had interviewed Margaret, but she had not mentioned that her brother had been adopted.  It was likely that these Brunos were the family I was searching for, but it was not known whether their son John was missing.

Within a day, Steve contacted Margaret and was informed that her brother John had indeed been adopted, but was alive and well and living in New Jersey, was married with two children, and working in the insurance industry.  She had recently spoken with him and he was fine.  John was without doubt the missing Bobbie Lee King.

This was a major disappointment for everyone. We had been looking forward to solving several enduring mysteries all at one time.  Had things worked out otherwise, Mike, Carl, and Norman would have found their missing brother, and Benjaman would have found his mother and his identity.

We had already begun to organize DNA testing to see if Benjaman matched the brothers. Since they all had the same mother their mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) would be identical. If Benjaman’s Y-DNA matched the Y-DNA of any of them, he would have at least found a full brother, and had a clue to who his father was.


In December 2010, it occurred to me that it was perhaps premature to put this close call in the inactive file. We had confirmed that Benjaman was not Bobbie Lee King, Jennie’s third son who had been missing for the last sixty years. But what about still another child she had not said anything about?

Jennie King Lower as an older woman.

I took a closer look at Jennie’s life.   Between 1946 after Mike started to go to foster homes and Carl had been adopted by the Litels, and 1949 when John (Bobbie Lee) was born, we do not know much about Jennie. Her life was unstable, she moved around a lot. No one kept good tabs on her.  Catholic Charities does not seem to have a record of any other children for Jennie, but there were several other adoption and child welfare agencies in Indianapolis that Jennie could have gone to if she were pregnant.

The thread of circumstance that had brought Jennie’s four sons together was very fragile. Had Carl’s mother not left those papers out on the table in 1967, and had Katrina at the Catholic Charities not noticed Jennie King’s name turn up in simultaneous requests from both Michael and Carl 41 years later, Carl, Michael and Norman would probably never have been reunited. And had Angelo Bruno’s name not been mistakenly written in the margin of Carl’s adoption papers in 1952, John would have probably never had been identified. Perhaps there are other parts to the story that are still to be discovered.

Jennie had kept Carl a secret from his brothers. Whose to say she didn’t have other secrets? Maybe Benjaman will turn out to be a fifth missing brother.  Maybe he was given up at a very young age to an orphanage, but never adopted, so that’s why he cannot remember his parents and only vaguely recalls he had three brothers. Maybe he had a fourth brother named Norman who was born later.

I’ve restarted the procedure to file an official request with the Center for Human Identification to DNA test Michael and Carl.  I’ve also begun contacting various social service organizations in the Indianapolis area to ask them to search their records.  Carl has had long conversations about Indianapolis with Benjaman that have indicated Benjaman lived there at least between 1954-1963.  Although Benjaman believes he was raised a Catholic, he recalls almost nothing about the Catholic schools in Indianapolis during that era.

While the Indianapolis Catholic Archdiocese has not yielded useful information, I’ve found that the Indianapolis public school (IPS) records are organized by child’s name, and that each record contains his birth date, parents’ names, addresses, schools attended, and sometimes more.  I plan to ask the IPS system to search for someone of Benjaman’s description.

But then again, who knows if his real name is Benjaman as he thinks? Or if his birthdate is August 29, 1948?  And if he was adopted his last name would probably not be either Powell or Davidson or even King.

Benjaman’s has only two hopes of being identified. One is to find a DNA match, but we don’t know when one will come along. The other is locating someone who can identify him. So if you recognize him, please contact me immediately at  We hope that the next close call will be our last.

Part I, Part II, Part III, Conclusion

For more information:

Wikipedia article:
John Doe Network:
Facebook page:
23andMe Discussion:…
Benjaman’s Powell & Davidson Matches:…

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