A man looking for his true identity after learning his being placed with a couple whose own child was stolen as a newborn baby was, in fact, a mistake, has finally found the answers for which he spent decades searching.
Paul Fronczak grew up believing his parents were Dora and Chester Fronczak, who when he was 10, told their son the harrowing story of how he was kidnapped as a baby but miraculously found as a toddler.
Not long after Dora had given birth to a baby boy, a woman dressed as a nurse appeared at her bed at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago on April 26, 1964 and said she needed to take the infant to be checked by a doctor.
Neither the woman, nor Dora’s child, ever returned.
"It was very traumatic for them," said Paul, a married father and college administrator now living in Henderson, Nevada. "I can’t even imagine what they went through."
The FBI launched what was then the largest manhunt in the city’s history. More than 200 officers and 175,000 postal workers reportedly searched for the baby. Though it initially appeared their efforts were fruitless, two years later, authorities announced they had found the Fronczaks’ son.
A toddler found abandoned in a New Jersey shopping center whose ears resembled the shapes of baby Paul’s was quickly deemed to be the couple’s child, and though DNA technology was not yet available to confirm the hunch, officials were content to go off a mother’s instincts.
"That’s my baby, it’s Paul!" Dora said when she saw the little boy.
Paul grew up in a house full of love with a family he adored, but as he grew up, he found he had questions. For one thing, he looked nothing like his parents.
"My brother looked exactly like my dad … I don’t," he told Inside Edition.
He eventually took a home DNA test, the results of which confirmed his suspicions that he was not, biologically, a Fronczak.
"In my heart I really knew that I probably wasn't their real child," he said. "I felt it. But once the guy told me those words, it took my breath away."
Further DNA analysis and the help of genealogy experts, Paul traced his roots to Tennessee and learned of his Jewish heritage. And eventually, those clues led him to what he was most interested in finding: his true identity.
Paul Fronczak was born Jack Rosenthal. He and his twin sister Jill were born six months before the baby for whom he was mistaken. His biological parents are now dead.
The baby taken from Dora’s hospital room more than 55 years ago has since been located in Michigan, according to WGN-TV. The man, whose identity is not being revealed as he is the victim of a crime, is reportedly battling cancer and has not yet decided if he will meet his birth family.
Dora is still alive, though Chester passed away several years ago. And the man now known as Paul Fronczak said he hopes to meet his parents’ biological son.