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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Benjaman Kyle – Close Calls, Part III

Jennie Lee King (Barnett Rudio)

Jennie Lee King (Barnett Rudio)

From 1938 through 1953, Jennie Lee King gave birth to four boys, putting the older three up for adoption or in foster homes.  She was born Barnett Rudio in Louisville, KY on December 20, 1918 the daughter of Wallace Rudio and Lillian Barbara Winkler. Jennie may have been born out of wedlock as, soon after she was born, Lillian married Walter L. King who supposedly adopted her and renamed her Jennie Lee King.

Jennie moved with her family to Indianapolis, IN in the 1920s.  Soon after graduating from Technical High School, she became pregnant and gave birth to her oldest son Michael Lee King on March 23, 1938 at St. Elizabeth’s Home for Unwed Mothers.  On his birth certificate, his parents are listed as Arnold and Stella Davis, but Michael’s father is unknown.  He was raised in the King household believing Lillian was his mother.

Jennie did not have an easy life.  When her mother Lillian died on March 18, 1943 at the age of 48, the King household dissolved, leaving Jennie on her own.  Her older three brothers were in the service and no longer at home.  Jim was Machinist Mate at Pearl Harbor, Bill was a Seaman First Class in the Solomon Islands, and Augie was Staff Sergeant in the Army Air Force in England.  The youngest brother, Bob, had recently graduated from high school and was celebrating his graduation and the fact that he, too, was going into the service with his brothers.  He was on a picnic with his friends when he was killed in a fall from a 150-ft cliff. In the meantime, to make her life even more difficult, Jennie had developed a serious case of spinal meningitis that left her crippled in her right hand.

Mike Davis (Michael James King)

In spite of her hardships, Jennie tried to keep Michael with her. Her life was unstable as she moved among various rooming houses in Indianapolis. She was finally offered a place to live by a kindly old man named Jake Weber.  He had noticed Jennie crying on the steps of nearby St. Patrick church one day. After hearing about the loss of her mother and her recent illness, he took her into his home in return for taking care of the housekeeping.  It was a comfortable arrangement for everyone.

In July 1945, Jake died and left Jennie and Mike a small amount of money and a place to stay until the probate was complete.  But Jennie, soon back on her own, realized she could no longer care for Michael. Her only option was to place him in St. Elizabeth’s Home under the auspices of Catholic Charities.  Michael was never adopted, but instead placed in a series of foster homes over the next few years. He finally ran away in 1952 at the age of 14.  Mike met his wife Mary the following year, and married her at age 15.  They are now grandparents and have been married for nearly 60 years.

Norman Lower

In 1963, after much research, Mary Davis located Jennie King. Jennie had since had a son Norman in 1953, eventually marrying Norman’s father William Lower on December 29, 1964.  After becoming more comfortable with the Davis’, Jennie allowed Mike to meet his younger brother. Jennie also revealed to the Davis’ that she had had an additional son who she named Robert Lee King, after her youngest brother Bob. However, Jennie had given Robert up for adoption when he was three and a half years old in the early 1950s.  She did not know his whereabouts.

Jennie final resting place in Washington East Cemetery, Indianapolis

Jennie died on July 10, 1967 from injuries she received in a car accident.  She also had peritonitis, diabetes, vertical fractures, amd malnutrition.  She was buried in an unmarked grave in Washington Park East Cemetery in Indianapolis on 13 July 1967.

Over many years, Mary Davis continued to search for Robert Lee King, her husband Mike’s missing brother.  But she had almost nothing to go on.  In late 2007, while making a new request for information from Catholic Charities in Indianapolis, the social worker noticed a matching request from another adoptee named Carl Litel.  The worker quickly realized the two men were probably brothers.

Carl Litel (Patrick King)

Mike and Mary were excited, believing they had finally located Mike’s missing brother Robert Lee King.  They were even more excited to find that Carl was not the missing brother at all, but an additional brother Patrick that Jennie had never revealed.  The whereabouts of Robert Lee King were still a mystery.

Jennie’s second son Carl Litel (Patrick King) was born February 5, 1946 in St. Elizabeth’s Home for Unwed Mothers.  Jennie only saw her son long enough to hold him right after he was born.  He was adopted at birth and renamed Carl Litel.

Carl and Norman finally met for the first time at the grave of their mother Jennie Lee King in Washington East Cemetery, Indianapolis, on Memorial Day, May 26, 2008.  Mike and Norman had since placed a stone on Jennie’s formerly unmarked grave.  Mike met them on a trip later in the year. Upon meeting, the three brother found they have lot of things in common. Norman and Mike are both married and have children and grandchildren. Norman works for the U. S. Government, Michael is retired from employment at Walt Disney in California, and Carl is the general contractor for all the Indian restaurants in Indianapolis and most of the Indian restaurants in the State of Indiana.

That is where things stood until October 2009 when a friend forwarded Mary a series of articles about me that appeared in the Orange County Register.  The two articles “Will this John Doe stump the ‘DNA Detective?'” on October 5 and “A past with no beginning, Man’s amnesia stumps even the DNA Detective” on October 8 described my search for Benjaman’s identity.  Mary had first learned about Benjaman when he appeared on the Dr. Phil show on October 16, 2008, and had become curious about whether he could be Mike’s missing brother.  When she contacted me, she explained how Mike, Carl, and Norman had been reunited, then continued:

We have all met and through our studies of the Catholic records find that there is yet another brother which we cannot find. The Catholic Charities say they have lost his records. We asked the Dr. Phil Show if they could check DNA and see if these brothers are related to Benjamin Kyle. We have never received an answer from Dr. Phil. This brother would probably be in his 60’s. My husband was the oldest brother at 71 and Norman is the youngest brother. The other two brothers would be inbetween. They all have the same mother, but different fathers.

I have a Davis Family Tree on you may wish to check. I hope you will be able to find something regarding these four brothers. It would be good to see all four together. The brothers are all willing to be tested for DNA.                                                                                                     — Mary Davis

Thinking it over, I suspected that Mary could be right.  The missing brother would be about 60 years old, born in Indianapolis, adopted out by Catholic Charities.  Furthermore, Mike’s father’s family name was given as Davis, which could be considered a variation on Davidson.  Carl, the brother born in 1946, was a well-known general contractor in the restaurant industry.  Occupations sometimes run in families…

To be continued…

Part I, Part II, Part III, Conclusion

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Benjaman Kyle – Close Calls, Part II

Benjaman Kyle

Since I have been involved in trying to identify the amnesiac Benjaman Kyle, I’ve seen many leads come in, ranging from the casual to the very serious. Many people have contacted me that they are related to Powells or Davidsons (or both).  Many people have written to direct me to websites describing missing persons who they believe might be Benjaman.  Many others have sent in pictures of their relatives, friends and acquaintances who they believe resemble Benjaman, in a sincere desire to assist in his identification.

Mary Beth Pierson's Benjaman Look-Alike

One example of a Benjaman look-alike is this picture sent to me by Mary Beth Pierson who believed her former neighbor resembled him. I agreed, although the neighbor had been a pilot in the military, and we doubt that Benjaman has had any military experience.  I asked Mary Beth to follow up on him with her present neighbors to see if they knew what happened to him.  Unfortunately, someone had talked to the neighbor recently, so we were out of luck.

One missing person who has been called to my attention more than once is Kyle Clinkscales, who disappeared from Lagrange, GA on January 27, 1976.  At first his parents believed he left on his own accord, but because of tips the police have received through the years, it is now believed that Kyle was murdered.  Even so, Kyle’s disappearance remains officially unsolved.

Kyle Clinkscales

Kyle Clinkscales

To the casual observer, Kyle’s case seems like a good candidate for a match to Benjaman.  His age would be about right, as would his height.  His whereabouts in Georgia check out.  His name was Kyle.  And the shape of his face is not too far off.  As in many cases, however, the match falls apart based on physical characteristics that are not shared by the two men.  For example, Kyle had previously fractured his ring finger, while Benjaman has scars that Kyle did not have.

Everyone who has contacted me has had the best of intentions.  But because it is impossible for me to follow every lead that comes in, I use my “three reasons” guidelines to decide whether I take a lead seriously or just keep it in reserve pending further developments.  If the lead has only one reason for researching it further, I usually don’t follow it down.  An example would be a Powell family who are related to Davidsons (see my earlier post about Benjaman’s Y-DNA results), but who have nothing else to suggest they might be related to Benjaman.  If the lead presents two reasons for following it down, I think a little harder about it, but usually put it aside for more serious consideration later.  A Powell family who are related to Davidsons and who live in Oregon would fall into this category.  If the lead has three reasons, I usually take it seriously and research it as far as I can.  A Powell family related to Davidsons living in Oregon with a child born 29 August 1948 would be this kind of lead. (Benjaman believes that his birthdate is 29th August 1948.  See his Wikipedia page for the full story.)

I discovered a lead that fell into this most serious category through an article that appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on 6 July 2006 reporting the death of Jeremy Kyle Davidson of Inman, VA.

On August 20, 2004 at 2:40 am, a boulder weighing 1,000 lbs was dislodged by a bulldozer widening a road at a strip mine site in Inman, causing it to roll toward the Davidsons’ house 649 feet below. The stone crashed through the side of the house and two interior walls, crushing Jeremy before stopping against his 7-year-old brother Zachary’s bed.  The article continued with commentary about A & G Coal, the owner the mine, and with a description of the lawsuit that the Davidsons had filed against the company.

Jeremy Kyle Davidson

There were three parallels between the article about Jeremy’s death and Benjaman’s story that caused me to consider it as a serious lead:  (1) the accident happened just a week before Benjaman Kyle was discovered unconscious, (2) the coincidence with the name Kyle, and (3) the results of Y-DNA tests that have indicated that Benjaman’s last name might be Davidson.  In hindsight, there is a fourth parallel that would have caused me to consider it even more seriously – Benjaman’s 23andMe autosomal tests reveal he has a family connection to the western Carolinas or eastern Tennessee.  Inman is just north of the North Carolina-Tennessee border.

I considered that perhaps Jeremy was Benjaman’s grandson, and that the trauma of the death of the boy had been too much for him, causing him to experience amnesia, wander away from the area, and that defenseless, he was beaten by someone who left him for dead.

I followed this lead down as far as I could.  I called the Post-Dispatch and even the attorney who was representing the Davidsons in the lawsuit.  But my search came to naught.  Since I did not get any return phone calls, I began to doubt that Benjaman could be connected to the Davidson’s tragedy.  I reasoned that if the accident had caused distress to the parents beyond the loss of their son, it would have undoubtedly been noted in the press.  But I could find nothing to support this.  I shelved the lead, filing it in my mental file cabinet under “coincidence”.

Undoubtedly the most stunning close call came from a woman named Mary Davis who lives in Alabama.  She contacted me after a friend sent her a copy of the article that had appeared about me in the Orange County Register on 5 October 2009.

As Mary explained in her email:

Just heard from a fellow genealogist about your work with Benjaman Kyle.  I also saw the Dr. Phil Show and felt that this man was familiar.

My husband, Michael Steven Davis, a/k/a Michael James King was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on 23 March 1938.  His mother was Jennie Lee King.  No father is listed on the birth record. After many years of researching, I found his grandfather, who was Jennie Lee’s birth father, Wallace Rudio.  Her birth name was Barnette Rudio.  Jennie’s mother was Barbara Lillian Winkler who later married a man named Walter King who raised her but did not legally adopt her.  They lived in Indianapolis, Indiana.  My husband had spent part of his childhood under the asupices of the Catholic Charities in Indiana and we finally got his records after we proved his mother was already deceased.  I have a thick stack of papers regarding Michael’s life in the orphanage and foster homes.

We had earlier found a younger brother Norman Lower who now lives in Indianapolis with his wife and children.

About two years ago another man named Carl Litel contacted the Catholic Charities to see if they had any records for him. He turned out to be a brother. We have all met and through our studies of the Catholic records find that there is yet another brother which we cannot find. The Catholic Charities say they have lost his records. We asked the Dr. Phil Show if they could check DNA and see if these brothers are related to Benjamin Kyle. We have never received an answer from Dr. Phil. This brother would probably be in his 60’s. My husband was the oldest brother at 71 and Norman is the youngest brother. The other two brothers would be in between. They all have the same mother, but different fathers.

I have a Davis Family Tree on you may wish to check. Hoping you can find a connection. The brothers are all willing to be tested for DNA.

Mary Davis

Mary’s story was of the missing brother from Indianapolis was exciting.  He would be about the 60 years old, he would have three brothers, and he would have been taken care of by Catholic Charities in Indianapolis.  This personal information is consistent with what Benjaman can remember.

Mary followed up with a photo of the three brothers.  From left to right:  Norman Lower, Carl Litel (aka Patrick King), and Michael Steven Davis (aka Michael James King).

Three Brothers from Indianapolis

Mary accompanied the photograph with information regarding Jennie King, the boys’ mother, taken from the Catholic Charities report on her husband Mike and his brother Carl (Patrick King) b. 1946:

Reported 10-31-46

Jennie was referred to CCB in a pregnant condition out of wedlock. She was employed at the time as housekeeper by an elderly man who was critically ill. She was living in his home on the south side and was keeping Michael with her. She was delivered of her baby 2-5-46 at St. Francis Hospital. The child has been placed in legal adoption. When the elderly employer died, Jennie received several hundred dollars from his small estate, as well as the right to occupy the house for several months. She kept Michael with her.

The report also contained information about an unidentified third brother [birth name later found to be Robert Lee King]:

Reported 9-17-51

The mother’s whereabouts are unknown. She has had a third child out of wedlock – born in General Hospital. This child has been placed in adoption. It is difficult to locate the mother, as she moves from one rooming house to another in the vicinity of Massachusetts Avenue and Michigan Streets.

Mary continued:

[Jennie’s] last child was with William Lower whom she married. His name is Norman Lower and he lives in the Indianapolis area.

Upon the three brothers meeting, they found lot of things in common. They are all intelligent. Carl is a college graduate, Norman works for the U. S. Government, and Michael is retired from employment at Walt Disney in California. They have many of the same likes and dislikes and spent many hours together talking into the night. They enjoy reading and learning new things. They are collectors of various things. Norman and Mike are both married and have children and grandchildren. Carl is still single but he’s a very busy man. My husband and I are planning on meeting again with them in the next month or so. I do have more pictures of them – just can’t find them right now. I am busy with researching one of my other families.

I hope you will be able to find something regarding these four brothers. It would be good to see all four together.

Mary Davis

Unfortunately Mary’s reports told us almost nothing about brother #3, but several clues about his identity could be derived from the information she did have.  Brother #3 was adopted out by a Catholic organization, he had at least three brothers, his adopted name would be different from his birth name, and he was born in Indianapolis between 1946 and 1951.

To be continued…

Part I, Part II, Part III, Conclusion

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Benjaman Kyle – Close Calls, Part I

Photo: Jessica Haye and Clark Hsiao

Hi Colleen:


I read the article about you in the June 2010 issue of More Magazine, and am curious about one thing. Are you the same person who competed on Wheel of Fortune in 1991? If so, I was one of your competitors. Just curious!


Margot Theresa Cox


In fact, I was on Wheel of Fortune in 1991.  (I lost.  I was the third contestant in line, and the other two women, including Margot, mopped up on the puzzles before I could get a letter in edgewise.)


When I wrote her back, identifying myself as her competitor, Margot answered:

When I got your response I had to dig out my copy of the shows. Sure enough, there you were! I was next to you, in the middle. But here’s the truly weird thing – sometime during the past couple of weeks, I was trying to remember where I had heard the phrase “I speak a smattering of other languages.” Well, you are the one who said it. Isn’t that odd? Anyway, I lived in Florissant, MO back in 1991. I have been in Temple, TX since 1993.


I enjoyed reading the article about your work. Some of what you have done is truly amazing. And what a career transformation! Much of what you do is obviously very scientific, but I love it when you can use the internet to find someone. I recently was able to find a long-lost boyfriend I hadn’t heard from in well over 20 years! Not quite the same as your finds, but still so much more than we could have done without the net.



So if Margot can recognize me as her competitor on Wheel of Fortune nearly 20 years ago, why can’t anyone identify Benjaman Kyle?


The story of the amnesiac who goes by the name Benjaman Kyle is familiar to many people because of the media attention it has been given.  Thanks largely to my efforts, he has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered, in the UK Guardian, AOL News, the Boulder Daily Camera, the Denver Post, and many other newspapers across the country.  In October 2008, before I became involved with his identification, he appeared on the Dr. Phil television program.  Benjaman has an article on Wikipedia that in September 2010 received just under 250,000 visitors.  He has a Facebook page, too.  In total, millions of people have read or heard about Benjaman.  Yet after six years, we still don’t know who he is.

We have had some stunning close calls.  In May 2009, we received a tip that a man closely resembling Benjaman appears in a YouTube video We Love You dedicated to missing persons. The man only appears for a few moments about 32 seconds into the video.  I did not catch him until I was specifically told when to look for him.

To compare Benjaman to this missing person, I composed a new face from the right half of Mr. X’s face and the half of Benjaman’s face.  The result was comical, but a fair indication that they resembled each other.  I wrote to the person who had posted the video, only to be told that he had no further information about any of the people who appeared, not even their names. The images had been taken from missing persons flyers that had since been thrown away.

Fortunately, thanks to an intensive search of missing persons sites on the internet, we discovered Mr. X’s identity on the Thin Blue Line , the unofficial New South Wales police service website.  He is Spiro Georgakopoulos, b. 10 December 1932, missing since 9 June 1990 from Bankstown, New South Wales.  He is definitely not Benjaman.


Another close call occurred in July 2009 when Benjaman appeared in a series of articles in the Boulder Daily Camera and the Denver Post.  Since Benjaman has some very accurate memories of the Round the Corner on the Hill restaurant in Boulder from the late 1970s-early 1980s, we felt we might be able to find someone who recognized him through publicity in the Boulder newspapers.


One of the first of about two dozen tips to come in was from Hardy Bullock, who told me that Benjaman resembled one of the coaches of his daughter’s 8- and 9-year-old softball team in about 1980.  The coaches worked for the Round the Corner restaurant chain that was the corporate sponsor for the team.   Hardy’s daughter was one of only two girls on the team.  Hardy told me that the name of the coach appeared on the back of the photo as Ken M___.  (See the coach on the right in the picture below.)


I agreed with Hardy that Benjaman resembled Ken M, but it was hard to say they were the same person, since the baseball picture had been taken 30 years ago.  Fortunately, Ken’s last name was unusual, so that I quickly began to search for more information about him, to see if he had been reported missing.

Almost immediately, two former managers at Round the Corner contacted me independently identifying Benjaman as the same Ken M.  This gave me more confidence that I finally had an identification.  I had already contacted the family of the former owners of the restaurant who had seen the newspaper article.  They were very helpful in giving me a list of people who worked for the restaurant. One of them was Bob T____, Ken’s best friend back in the 1980s.  Unfortunately, when we finally got in touch with Bob, he told us that he had seen Ken at a barbeque just six months before.  Bob also sent us a link to a photograph of Ken at the barbeque.

Benjaman was not Ken M.

To be continued…

Part I, Part II, Part III, Conclusion

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Benjaman’s 23 and Me Matches

Benjaman Kyle

Benjaman Kyle is the adopted name of an amnesiac who was found near Savannah, GA in August 2004.  (See his Wikipedia page for more details.)  Since recovering from a severe beating that left him unconscious, he cannot remember who he is.  Benjaman took a 23andMe autosomal DNA test earlier this year, hoping to discover close relatives, or at least possible names in his family and the geographical locations where they could be found. As of December 9, 2010, Benjaman’s list of 23andMe matches includes a total of 411 matches ranging from 3rd to 10th cousins. 

Benjaman’s top 23andMe match is a third cousin named Thomas Perry whose family has lived in the area around Saluda, SC for at least two hundred years.  Benjaman has also found 67 matches at the 4th cousin level.  The rest of his matches are estimated as 5th cousin and more remote.

Hoping to discover clues to Benjaman’s geographical origins, I created a map showing the locations associated with the family pedigrees of eight of his top matches, including the Perrys of Saluda and some of his top-ranked 4th cousins.  There are many more matches, listed as 4th cousins and above, who have not accepted contact.  If I ever hear from them, I will add them to the map.  A couple of matches who have accepted contact were adopted and know nothing about their families, so they have been excluded.  A couple of others who accepted contact are closely related to each other, so that they share the same family pedigree.  These families have been included only once.

The map below shows the locations associated with Benjaman’s top match Thomas Perry, whose family originated mostly in western South Carolina, southeast of Greenville.

The Perrys of South Carolina

When information derived from pedigrees of other top matches are added, the map becomes more interesting.  A few thumbnail portraits of his matches and the colored balloons associated with them are shown as examples below.  

Geography of Benjaman's Closest 23 and Me Matches

The area with the greatest number of different colors is still in western South Carolina.  A closeup of the map gives more details:

Between the mid 1700s and the mid 1900s, family members of all of Benjaman’s closest matches lived in this area.  Dates range from the birth of James McDavid (10 February 1766, Greenville; Winship-Parker family tree) through Perry family members still living in Saluda today.  This does not mean that Benjaman was born in this area, nor that his parents were born here.  Considering that the map is based on one 3rd cousin and several 4th cousins, his connection to western South Carolina probably dates back to the late 1700s-early 1800s.

Each time I hear from a new 23andMe match, I check his pedigree for names that he shares with Benjaman’s other matches.  I also check for common geography.  So far the names associated with his closest matches including Perry, Parker, Hooper, Davenport, Davis, and Harris, but because they are so common, it has been impossible to connect any of the families based on them.  I also watch for Powells and Davidsons to whom Benjaman’s might be related along his male line.  (See earlier entry.)  But so far, no luck. 

I will keep trying.  I conscientiously monitor Benjaman’s 23andMe page for new results, and follow up on each new match who accepts contact.  I also keep an eye out for Y-DNA matches for him in the Sorenson and YSearch databases.  When I finally discover Benjaman’s identity, I will have no doubts that I have the right guy.  At the moment, I feel like I know everything about him except for his name.

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Special Projects

July 2010      Consultant, Elmer Crawford Murder Case, Melbourne, Victoria                               Police Department

–    Assisted Melbourne law enforcement in locating a mitochondrial DNA reference in                 Ireland and Australia for fugitive killer Elmer Crawford who murdered his wife and               three children in 1970 in Australia, to establish whether or not a look-alike drifter in             Texas was Crawford. (He was not.)  See Identifinders Blog entries August 29-                       September 1, 2010, DNA Rule-Out for Cold Case Australia, Parts I & II.

Feb 2010       Consultant, Grim Sleeper Serial Murder Case, Los Angeles                                        Police Department

–    Assisted the LAPD with the identification of the Grim Sleeper Serial Murderer through         comparing his DNA profile with genetic genealogy database.  Was able to confirm killer         was African American along the male line of his family.

Feb 2009       Consultant, Benjaman Kyle Amnesia Victim Identification

–    Directing and organizing efforts, with the help of Benjaman’s advocate, with the                     identification of amnesia victim found in Savannah, GA in 2002.  See story on                        Identifinders website at Benjaman Kyle, the Man without An Identity.

Sep 2008       Consultant, Herman Rosenblat Holocaust Fraud Exposure

–   Strategist and researcher for team that exposed Herman Rosenblat’s soon-to-be-                  published and Oprah-touted best-selling “apple over the fence” Holocaust memoire as a      fraud.  Publication was subsequently canceled.  See story on Identifinders website                Identifinders Strikes Again!  Forensic Genealogists Unmask Another Holocaust Fraud.

Mar 2008      Chair and Organizer, Forensic Science Workshop and Panel                                     Discussion, Defense and Security Symposium, SPIE Optical                                       Society, Orlando, FL.

Feb 2008       Consultant, Misha Defonseca Holocaust Fraud Exposure

–   Strategist and researcher for team that exposed Misha Defonseca’s best-selling                      Holocaust memoir Surviving with Wolves as a fraud.  Read story on Identifinders                website at Misha Defonseca Cries Wolf, Holocaust Fraud Exposed.

2008-2009    Consultant, Amelia Earhart Project

–   Only person to successfully locate a family reference for Fred Noonan, Amelia Earhart’s      navigator for DNA testing the remains found on Gardener Island in the Pacific.

2007-2008    Consultant, U.S. Armed Force DNA Identification Laboratory,                                 Rockville, MD

–   Identification of the Unknown Child on the Titanic –   See Identifinders            blog entries Unknown Child on the Titanic August 14-21, 2010.

–   The Hand in the Snow (Northwest Flight 4422) Project – Identification of the          remains of a merchant mariner killed in the crash of Northwest Airlines Flight #4422,          Alaska, March 18, 1948.  Read more on Identifinders website at The Hand in the Snow.

Mar 2007      Chair and Organizer, Forensic Science Workshop and Panel                                     Discussion, Defense and Security Symposium, SPIE Optical                                       Society, Orlando, FL.

2006-2008    Consultant, Hebron Investments, Scottsdale, AZ

–   Locating owners of unclaimed property based on a name and a last known address                sometimes over 20 years old.  Specializing in international locations including Taiwan,          Japan, Hong Kong, Venezuela, Argentina, Panama, Guatemala, the US, Canada, the              Netherland Antilles, Estonia, Lebanon, Morocco, France, Italy, and England.

2006-2007    Consultant, Becker Entertainment, Los Angeles, CA

–   Edited and reworked proposal to Discovery Channel for a series on forensic                            genealogy.  Episodes involved the genealogies of famous people of various ethnic                    backgrounds.

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The Dead Horse Investigation – Update

The Famous Sheboygan Dead Horse Picture

The man, the myth, the legend…over a century later, the questions still linger: Who is the man in the picture, and what is he doing sitting on a dead horse in the middle of the intersection of Indiana and Griffith Aves. in Sheboygan, WI?

Those of you who have read The Dead Horse Investigation:  Forensic Photo Analysis for Everyone, are aware that we were able to narrow down the date of the famous Sheboygan Dead Horse photo to five possibilities:  May 5, 1867, 1872, or 1878, or August 10, 1873 and 1879.  Through a fortuitous encounter with a member of the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society named Susan, we have been able to further narrow the date even further.

A short review for new Dead Horse afficianados…

The intersection of Griffith and Indiana Aves in Sheboygan is quite different now than it was in the late 1800s.  Today there is a traffic circle located just north of where the man was seated on his dead horse.

The area of Sheboygan pictured was the industrial area in town in those days.  Not many records of the development of this area on the south side of the Sheboygan River survive. No earliest date can be obtained from building permits or construction records.  City directories have also been of no use.  They were not published every year, and where they do exist, the listings only reference intersections or streets, without mentioning specific addresses.

Fortunately, there are other clues that can be used to date the picture.  The key to the earliest date the picture could have been taken comes from noticing that the photograph was taken with a wide angle lens. Only using such a lens could the photograph include over half the width of the street, 40 ft.

The wide angle lens was first produced in 1865 in by Emil Busch in Rathnow, Germany.  Of course, it probably took some time for news of the lens to reach Sheboygan, and even more time for the photographer to obtain one. The true earliest date of the picture (the date the photographer received the lens) was probably much later than 1865, but we don’t have enough information to know when this happened. All we can say is that the picture must have been taken after the invention of the wide angle lens in 1865.

The latest date the photo could have been taken comes from comparing the shadows of the buildings to information given by the 1880 census. The census for that year tells us that there were three saloons occupying corners of the intersection.  The northeast corner is occupied by the Evergreen Hotel, the Italianate building in the background to the right that was a hotel and saloon built long before the 1880s.  The southeast corner across from it is empty.

A Missing Shadow

Sheboygan was built on a grid with the streets running north-south and east-west.  The photographer was looking to the north along what was then Griffith Ave, now known as 8th Ave. When a line is drawn from the empty southeast corner directly across the street to the southwest corner, it does not pass through the shadow falling on the man. That shadow is being cast by the building that is on the second lot from the corner. We can’t see what was on the southwest corner, but we can conclude that it was empty.

Since there were at least two empty corners at the time the photograph was taken, it must have been produced before 1880.

The picture was taken between 1865 and 1880.

The time of day can be derived by using the man as a sundial. Measuring the length of the shadow he cast would normally be difficult without a correction for the perspective of the camera.  That is, lengths as viewed by the camera will appear shortened by the sine of the angle of the line-of-sight of the camera with respect to the length being measured.  There would also be a correction for the effects of the wide angle lens, which can also distort lengths.

However as luck has it, the shadows in the picture run directly across the street, so that the sun is exactly in the west (270 degrees azimuth). With the camera facing north-south, the corrections for perspective are much easier.  Actually, if we assume that the photographer was far away from the man and the horse relative to the width of the street, we can neglect the effects of perspective all together. This was probably true, although it might not seem like it because of the way the wide angle lens distorts distances.

To determine the time of day, you also need the height of the sun over the horizon, called its elevation.  This can be determined by using a little bit of high school trig. The line from the top of the man’s hat to the tip of its shadow on the street is the hypotenuse of a triangle.  The line from the same point on the hat to the ground is the side of the triangle opposite the angle we wish to know.  The sine of the angle is the length of the opposite side divided by the length of the hypotenuse.  Taking the arcsine gives us an angle of 15.7 degrees.

You finally need the coordinates of the man and his horse.  According to Google Earth, the man was located about 43 deg 44′ 35″ N latitude, 87 deg 42′ 47″ W longitude.

An ephemeris will tell you that the sun is at 270 degrees azimuth and 15.7 degrees elevation at this location in Sheboygan every year on May 5 and August 10 at 4:52 pm.

To recap, the picture was taken on May 5 or August 10, between 1865 and 1880 at 4:52 pm.

Although the Sheboygan neighborhood shown in the picture was an industrial area, the streets are almost deserted.  To help us narrow down the date even further, we guessed that the picture was taken on a Sunday; otherwise we believe that the street would have been more crowded, if not with people, then with wagons and other horses.

Using the perpetual calendar at, the only instances when May 5 or August 10 fell on a Sunday were May 5, 1867, 1872, and 1878, or August 10, 1873 and 1879.

In the Dead Horse Investigation, we left it at that.  However, during my recent conference in September 2010 in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, a member of the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society named Susan noticed a clue that even the top Dead Horse experts in the world had missed – the leaves on the trees behind the A-frame building in the background to the left.

Because I come from a warm climate, it did not occur to me that the trees in Sheboygan would still be without leaves as late in the year as May.  Since the tree looks like it is in full foliage, the picture must have been taken on either August 10, 1873, or August 10, 1879.

If anyone has any ideas on why the scene favors either one of these dates, please contact me immediately.  In the meantime, buy the book, don’t wait for the movie!

For more information on how you can purchase your very own copy of The Dead Horse Investigation, visit our order desk at

November 26, 2010

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