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Benjaman Kyle

From ISOGG Wiki

Benjaman Kyle is an American man who is diagnosed with dissociative amnesia and has little recollection of his life before 2004, when he was discovered unconscious in Richmond Hill, Georgia. He is the only American citizen who was officially listed as missing despite his whereabouts being known.[1] Kyle is white and appears to be in his 50s or 60s.[2] He is 5 ft 11 inches tall and weighs 240 lb.[3] He has graying hair with a receding hairline, and blue-green eyes.[2] For many years after his amnesia Kyle was homeless and had been unable to obtain employment as he was unable to remember his full Social Security number.[4] In 2015, thanks to the work of a team led by genetic genealogist CeCe Moore, Benjaman Kyle has now learned his previous identity. He has chosen not to reveal it publicly in order to protect his family members.[5][6][7]



Benjaman Kyle remembers that he was born 10 years before Michael Jackson and on the same day, giving him a possible birth date of August 29, 1948.[8][9][1] Genetic testing suggests that he may have had the surname Powell or Davidson or have relatives with these names.[1] Through hypnosis, he recalled a partial Social Security number 3X5-44-XXXX, consistent with numbers assigned in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana during the 1960s. Hypnosis suggests that Benjaman has two or three brothers, whose names or faces he does not remember, but otherwise does not remember any other people from his life.[1][10] Kyle has memories of Indianapolis as a child, including the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, the Woolworth's on the Circle, and the Indiana Theatre showing movies in Cinerama. He remembers Crown Hill Cemetery, although not its name, the Scottish Rite Cathedral, and the White River when "it was mostly just a dumping ground". He also remembers grilled cheese sandwiches for a quarter and glasses of milk for a nickel at the Indiana State Fair. Based on his reactions to the mention of nuns during hypnosis, he may have been raised as a Catholic and may have attended Catholic schools.[11] So far, searching through Indianapolis area high school yearbook records have come up empty, although records from that era are often incomplete.[12]

More specific memories place him in Indianapolis between at least 1954 and 1963.[1] The earlier date is based on his recognition of the Fountain Square Theater but not the Granada Theater in the Fountain Square area of town. The Granada closed in the mid-1950s. The later date is based on his recollections of a 2% retail sales tax that was enacted by the State of Indiana in 1963,[13] and that the popular WLS Chicago radio station disc jockey Dick Biondi left the station that year over management issues.

Kyle also has memories of being in the Denver Metropolitan Area. He has detailed memories of the subscription the University of Colorado Boulder's Norlin Library had to Restaurants & Institutions. He also remembers the Round the Corner Restaurant on The Hill, and the Flatirons and The Fox Theater near the Boulder campus.[14] This places Kyle in the Colorado in the late 1970s to early 1980s.[15] Kyle reported having memories of the controversy surrounding the construction of mass transit in Denver, at a time when the city still had no financing to proceed. Although the RTD Bus & Light Rail system in Denver went into operation in 1994, public debate over the construction of the system dates back to about 1980, consistent with the time period of the other memories that Kyle has about Denver and Boulder.[16]

More specific memories of Boulder, Colorado, place Kyle there between 1976 and 1983.[1] The earlier date is based on his memory that he arrived during the construction of the Pearl Street Mall in the downtown area, and shortly after the Big Thompson Canyon flood [17] that occurred on July 31-August 1, 1976. The later date is based on the year that the King Soopers grocery store chain merged with Kroger.

Benjaman Kyle has detailed knowledge of restaurant management and food preparation equipment, leading to the belief that he may have once worked in these industries.[12]

Kyle has nearly no memory of his life after the 1980s, including how he ended up in Georgia.[2] One event he does remember is reading about the September 11 attacks.[10] When asked by doctors to recall the Presidents of the United States, he was only able to recall those from the 20th century.[12] Many of his memories he cannot describe in words and are at the tip of the tongue.[10]


Benjaman Kyle believes that he was passing through Richmond Hill, Georgia on either U.S. Route 17 or Interstate 95 in late August, 2004. He may also have been on the road because of Hurricane Charley, which had hit earlier that month.[18]

On August 31, 2004 at 5:00 am, a Burger King employee found him unconscious, sun-burnt, and naked behind a dumpster of the restaurant.[3][19] He had three depressions in his skull that appeared to have been caused by blunt force trauma and he also had red ant bites on his body. After discovering him, employees called 911, and EMS took him to St. Joseph's/Chandler Hospital in Savannah, Georgia. He had no identity document and was recorded in hospital records as "Burger King Doe". After the incident, no criminal investigation was opened by Richmond Hill police until a friend inquired with the department in 2007. There were not reports of stolen vehicles in the area and local restaurants and hotels did not encounter any individuals matching Kyle's description.[3] Two weeks later he was transferred to Memorial Health University Medical Center, where records state he was semiconscious.[3]

After waking up, when he was asked for his name by hospital staff, he remembers that it was Benjaman, but could not recall his last name. He came up with the surname "Kyle" from his police and hospital placeholder name. He had woken up with cataracts in both eyes, which were not fixed until nine months later when a charity raised enough money to pay for an operation. Upon seeing himself in the mirror for the first time, Kyle realized he was around 20 years older than he thought he was.[20]

After being released from the hospital, Kyle spent several years between the Grace House men's shelter and hospitals. In 2007 while at The J.C. Lewis Health Care Center he met a nurse who first inquired about his past history. The nurse helped support Kyle financially while he earned about $100 a month mostly doing yard work. While driving her truck in a yard, Kyle discovered that he still remembered how to drive a car. He was diagnosed with dissociative amnesia in 2007 by Jason A. King in Atlanta. King suggested that Kyle's amnesia dates from August 31, 2004.[10] Georgia Legal Services were unable to obtain medical records for Kyle because Memorial Health requested an $800 fee. A friend contacted Georgia State Representative Jack Kingston for help with the case. To help with Kyle's identification, Kingston's office sent DNA samples to the FBI's National Criminal Justice Information Services Division in West Virginia.

In 2008 he was invited to appear on the Dr. Phil show. Memorial Health decided to provide select portions of Kyle's medical records free of charge to the program.

In March 2011, Benjaman was approached by Florida State University's College of Motion Picture Arts graduate student John Wikstrom. Kyle moved to Jacksonville, Florida, traveling by foot, in order to be filmed for the documentary.[21]

In 2011, with help from Florida State Representative Mike Weinstein, Kyle was able to obtain a legal, government-issued Florida Legacy ID. Kyle's story appeared in a report on News4Jax, which caught the attention of a local business owner who currently employs Kyle as a dishwasher and pays him out of pocket. As of January 2015 he lives in Jacksonville Beach, Florida in a 5 by 8 foot air-conditioned shack provided by a good Samaritan.[21]

Several online petitions have been created asking lawmakers to grant Benjaman Kyle a new Social Security number. In 2012, an online petition was created on the We the People petitioning system on but got only 2/3 of the required signatures by its deadline on December 25 and failed.

Search for identity

There have been major efforts to identify Kyle by matching his DNA with that stored in various databases, none of them has been completely successful. These efforts have included:

  • Fingerprint comparison to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database of offenders
  • Fingerprint comparison to databases of military personnel and government workers
  • A Y-DNA test through the Center for Human Identification at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas
  • A Y-DNA test for genetic genealogy through Family Tree DNA in Houston, Texas
  • Searches on Y-DNA online databases such as,,,, and AncestryDNA
  • Searches on mtDNA online databases such as,, and
  • Facial recognition comparison by the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles with individuals who have obtained an Indiana driver's license since 1998[12]
  • Research of the birth announcements published in Indianapolis newspapers around the time of Benjaman's remembered birth date [22]
  • Postings with missing persons networks[2]

As of July 2009, a search was being made by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs for Kyle's Vietnam draft registration, based on his birth date and his physical characteristics. When the draft was first implemented on December 1, 1969, Kyle's possible birth date of August 29, 1948 would have given him a priority number of 61.[23] Because the highest draft number used that year was 195, were that his birthday, he would have been very likely called, though interviews with military investigators indicate that he almost certainly had never served. A search through lists of men who had draft exemptions is now underway.

Newspaper articles were published in the Boulder Daily Camera on July 5, 2009, and in the Denver Post on July 7, 2009.[15] Based on Kyle's memories of the University of Colorado Boulder campus, it was hoped that someone would respond to the articles to identify him. As of September 2010, this has not happened.

Kyle has taken several DNA tests that offer clues to his origins. A genetic genealogy DNA test by Family Tree DNA produced a distant match with members of the Powell DNA Study.[24] Based on these results, in March 2010 an almost perfect DNA match was discovered in the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation database with a Davidson of Scottish ancestry, a grandson of Robert Holden Davidson (b. 1885 Logan, Utah, d. 1946 Chico, California). This Davidson's results are very different from other Davidsons who have been tested by the Davidson/Davison/Davisson Research DNA Study Project.[25] The fact that Kyle has several weak matches to Powells, with a single strong match to a Davidson, indicates a possible non-paternity event in the male line of his family — that is, an adoption, a name change, or an illegitimacy. It is surmised that his legal name might be Davidson, but that in past generations, the family name was originally Powell. A comparison of the whereabouts of the Powell and Davidson families revealed that members of both families were living in close proximity in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1900s.[26]

A geographical comparison between Kyle's Y-DNA results and the YHRD Y Users Group database shows a somewhat close match in southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma, but the US coverage in this database is sparse and only includes Y-DNA haplotypes. A more comprehensive autosomal DNA test by 23andMe relating to mixed-gender family lines reveals a large number of matches with ancestry in the western Carolinas, eastern Tennessee, northern Alabama, and northern Georgia.[27]

A major challenge in the search for Kyle's identity was that most records in the US are keyed on an individual's name and Social Security number, which in Kyle's case was unknown. Many records are kept in hard copy format, making searching difficult. Many others that could be searched electronically on his birth date are protected by privacy laws. The hope of identifying him rests on finding a DNA match, or on attracting the attention of someone who recognizes him by his photograph.

Forensic genealogist Colleen Fitzpatrick claims to have compiled a family tree for Kyle, and based on DNA tests has identified a set of predicted second cousins from the Western Carolinas who are collaborating with her to help determine Benjaman's identity.[28]Kyle appeared on a Reddit and AMA in 2012 and again in 2013 and that attracted several possible leads, most of which were disproven.[29] As of 2012, Benjaman Kyle ceased his relationship with Colleen Fitzpatrick due to what he perceived as unethical behavior on his case.[30] and has since worked with a team of adoption search angels led by CeCe Moore in collaboration with the Powell DNA Project administrator Jim Barrett (who has been involved in his case for several years). This team were ultimately able to help Benjaman determine his identity. He subsequently sent a legal letter to Colleen Fitzpatrick Legal letter to Colleen Fitzpatrick . This letter was shared publicly by Benjaman Kyle in a public Facebook posting on September 27, 2016.</ref>

In one notable lead, two Redditors claimed to have seen Kyle working at a Waffle House in Kennesaw, Georgia.[31] However, none of the users responded to personal messages when contacted.[32] Eventually, searching through Waffle House corporate employment records finally suggests that the leads were false.

Media coverage

Dr. Phil paid for Kyle to seek a professional hypnotist in an effort to help him recover lost memories. The second part of the episode featured another amnesia patient, a woman who suffers from amnesia induced by head trauma. He has also appeared on local television networks across the country. Kyle says he has been met with skepticism about the case.[1]

In March 2011, Benjaman was the subject of a student documentary from Florida State University's College of Motion Picture Arts by filmmaker John Wikstrom. The film, entitled "Finding Benjaman" was in part a description about Benjaman's curious circumstances, and in part an appeal to action for local media groups and politicians. The film was invited to be shown as the Tribeca film festival and at the American Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival. Through the outreach involved with the film, Kent Justice of News4Jax (WJXT) ran a series on Benjaman with the help of Florida Senator Mike Weinstein. Through Weinstein, and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Benjaman was able to obtain a Legacy Identification Card to supplement the identity card he received when he was in Georgia. No new leads were developed by the story. However he was able to find work and housing through the generosity of viewers.

Blog posts

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Neil Forsyth (2010-07-10). "Do you know this man? | Life and style". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-11-16.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "The Guardian" defined multiple times with different content
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Case File 1007UMGA". The Doe Network. Retrieved 2010-06-30. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "A 'real live nobody'". 2007-09-24. Retrieved 2009-01-07. 
  4. "Man With Amnesia Starts New Life". 2007-10-16. Retrieved 2010-06-30. Template:Dead link
  5. WJXT. "Man with no name finally knows real identity". News4Jax. Retrieved September 16, 2015. 
  6. DNA testing helps amnesiac. 23andMe Blog, 23 September 2015.
  7. Facebook post by Benjaman Kyle. 16 September 2016. In his post Benjaman publicly thanked all the people who helped him in his search.
  8. Brown, Nathan (March 1, 2013). "Benjaman Kyle: A man in search of his identity". Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
  9. "Know This Man? Can You Tell Him Who He Is?". Retrieved 2010-09-05. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Sharpe, Joshua (December 17, 2012). "Jacksonville man with no name wants government to give him one". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved January 8, 2015. 
  11. "Dr. Phil Show". Retrieved 2010-06-30. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 "I am Benjaman Kyle, an amnesiac who woke up with no memories in 2004. Nobody knows who I am. AMA". Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  13. "History and Economic Impact of Sales Tax". 
  14. "Tips roll in for amnesia victim; no ID yet". June 2010. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Amnesia Victim Has Ties to Boulder". June 2010. 
  16. "Amnesia Victim has ties to Denver, CU". Retrieved 2010-06-30. Template:Dead link
  17. "Big Thompson Canyon July 31- Aug. 1, 1976". 
  18. Politan, Vinnie; Krammes, Kelly; Wolfe, Julie (February 5, 2015). "DNA expert: Man without identity wants it that way". NBC. Retrieved February 10, 2015. 
  19. Matteucci, Megan (2007-09-25). "Man with no memory tries to start new life". The Augusta Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-01-07. 
  20. "Amnesia Forever". December 5, 2014. Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  21. 21.0 21.1 Man Lives Six Years without Knowing Who he is. Archived from the original on January 22, 2012. Retrieved on 2011-09-17.Template:Dead link
  22. "Benjaman Kyle – Indianapolis Birth Announcements, 30 Aug 1948". 
  23. "Results from Lottery Drawing - Vietnam Era 1970". Retrieved 2010-06-30. 
  24. "Powell Surname DNA Project by Jim Barrett". Retrieved 2010-09-07. Template:Dead link
  25. "Davidson/Davison/Davisson Research DNA Study Project". Retrieved 2010-09-07. 
  26. "Benjaman’s Powell and Davidson Matches". 
  27. "Benjaman’s 23 and Me Matches". 
  28. "Benjaman Kyle The man without an identity". Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  29. "2014- Updates!". 
  30. Public statement from Benjaman Kyle. This statement was published by Benjaman Kyle in a public Facebook posting on September 27, 2016]
  31. QUIGLEY, RACHEL (10 December 2012). "Mystery of John Doe found beaten in dumpster in 2004 who STILL has no idea who he is - but could power of internet finally solve his riddle?". Retrieved February 14, 2015. 
  32. Update, 4th March 2014. Finding Benjaman website

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