New information has surfaced in the mystery surrounding a Henderson man who has been searching for his identity.
The strange saga started back in 1964 when a newborn named Paul Fronczak was kidnapped from a Chicago hospital. Eighteen months later, a youngster who had been abandoned in New Jersey was turned over to the Fronczaks, supposedly their missing son.
But as an adult, Paul Fronczak learned he was not related to the family at all.
The I-Team first broke the story a few years ago and reported last week that Paul has now learned his name at birth.
“I kind of feel like Scott Bakula in Quantum Leap,” he said. “I’m just popping into all these different lives, you know. I’m going to stay Paul, at least for now.”
Since he started the search for his true identity almost three years ago, Paul Fronczak has learned he’s had three names. Paul is the name he has known most of his life after being adopted by the Fronczak family of Chicago.
Prior to that, he was Scott McKinley, the name given to him by the state when he was found abandoned on a sidewalk in Newark, New Jersey. And now there’s Jack, his given name at birth, a discovery made recently with the help of a company named DNA Detectives.
He’s also learned another dark truth; he had a twin sister named Jill who seems to have vanished. Fronczak says he has been in touch with his blood relatives, including siblings, most of whom didn’t know the twins were ever born.
“Luckily, we were able to access my birth certificate and Jill’s birth certificate. She was born about six minutes before me. That’s the only proof the twins ever existed,” Fronczak said.
The more he learns, the stranger the story gets. He now knows his family name, birth date, birth place, and names of relatives, but has no idea what became of his sister or why he was dropped off on a street corner as a boy.
Fronczak worked with CeCe Moore, whose company, the DNA Detectives, took the lead on the investigation and finally broke it wide open by using DNA evidence, but also, old fashioned shoe leather detective work.
The decision was made to withhold some details, for now, because of privacy concerns and because the story takes some very dark twists.
“It’s been one after another, ups and downs in this case,” Moore said. “I’m sure it’s been incredibly difficult for Paul and everyone involved. I can tell you, when you finally get to hear the details of this story, you will agree with me that it is just incredible.”
After the I-Team first broke the story that Paul Fronczak wasn’t who he thought he was, CBS News and Chicago newspapers rekindled public interest in the case, which spurred the FBI to reopen the original investigation into the 1964 kidnapping of the real Paul Fronczak from a hospital in Chicago.
Fronczak was excited to think the FBI might not only help him find his birth family, but also figure out what happened to the real Paul. Since then, his hopes have fizzled.
I-Team reporter George Knapp: “Has the FBI made any contact, done any work that you know of?”
Paul Fronczak: “To be honest with you, I don’t think they have done anything. They haven’t helped me at all. When I did call them, they never returned my phone calls. I don’t even know if they uploaded my DNA into Codex.”
During the many months after he was found on a street corner, young Paul, then known as Scott McKinley, was studied by the FBI as part of a nationwide investigation.
Looking back on it, Fronczak thinks the agency had to know he wasn’t the real baby Paul, but he was turned over to the Fronczaks anyway.
“Janet, the lady who had me in the foster home, remembered them studying me, you know, the behavioral specialist and everything. There’s no way, I was two years old. I was talking. I’m sure I was doing things, saying things that would have totally cleared the way that I was not Paul Fronczak. The age wasn’t right. Nothing was right, except the ears.”
Two years ago, with a notarized statement from Paul Fronczak, the I-Team filed a public records request with the FBI, asking for their files in the case.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, the FBI can withhold files related to an active investigation, so the bureau hasn’t released anything.
It is also a matter of policy that the FBI does not comment on open investigations.
Paul Fronczak wonders if the case was re-opened as a way to make sure the files are kept closed to the public.
Fronczak contacted the I-Team Monday night with an update. Since the promotional spots for this story started airing, the FBI reached out to his mother, Dora Fronczak. An agent called her yesterday. It was the first contact in two years.
There will be further updates to this story as new information is released.