As national media interest continues in the story involving a baby stolen in 1964, investigative reporter George Knapp updates the Paul Fronczak story with details on leads that have been explored. Originally aired Jan. 20, 2014, on KLAS TV in Las Vegas.
LAS VEGAS — A man has grown up thinking he was stolen as a baby then reunited with his family years later, only to find out it isn’t true.
Now, Paul Fronczak is searching for his birth family and the original missing baby.
And, new clues have surfaced. However, the 50-year-old kidnapping mystery that ignited international interest is no closer to be solved right now.
The I-Team first told the story a year ago about the Henderson man who discovered he is not the person he always believed himself to be.
DNA tests have proven Paul Fronczak is actually someone else, and the real Paul Fronczak is still missing.
In the months since the I-Team stories about Fronczak were first broadcast, media interest has been intense. TV networks have come calling. The bizarre tale has been told in many languages in newspapers all over the world. And thousands of tips and leads have poured into the Facebook page created by 8NewsNow. But the one agency that might be able to solve the mystery doesn’t appear to be in any hurry, even though intriguing clues have surfaced.
“Yeah, I’ve been talking to the Kennedys. I’ve been talking to Mafia guys, other guys. It’s been interesting,” Fronczak said.
By now, Henderson resident Paul Fronczak has pretty much heard it all. Tipsters have speculated he is a long-lost member of the Kennedy clan, or the offspring of Mafia kingpins, or, you name it.
The Fronczak saga began in 1964 when a woman dressed as a nurse walked into a Chicago hospital and walked out with 1-day-old Paul Fronczak, son of Chester and Dora Fronczak, setting off an international manhunt involving 50 FBI agents and 500 police officers. Tens of thousands of people were questioned but the kidnapper and baby were never found.
More than a year later, a youngster was found abandoned on the streets of Newark, New Jersey. There were doubts about his identity but months later he was handed over to the Fronczaks as their missing son.
Paul knew growing up that something was amiss. He found news clippings about the kidnapping but his parents wouldn’t talk about it. In 2012, now living in Henderson with his own wife and child, Paul coaxed his parents into taking a DNA test. Last year, the I-Team broke the shocking news: the tests proved he is not Paul Fronczak. He doesn’t know who his blood relatives are, or, what happened to the real Paul Fronczak.
Since the DNA results were made public, things have been strained between Paul and the loving parents who raised him.
“I think they are angry. They are hurt, and for some reason, they don’t see the reasons I am doing this. I am doing it because there are tragic things that happened to two people that I would like to try and solve, if I could. They are taking it the other way around, like I am unhappy with how they raised me, which couldn’t be farther from the truth,” Fronczak said.
The good news is that Paul and the Fronczaks are a family again. They talk all the time, about everything except the case. Last year, after news about the DNA tests captured public attention all over again, the FBI re-opened the case. The Fronczaks have provided DNA samples to FBI agents to assist the investigation, but that evidence, like the voluminous case files, has since vanished into a bureaucratic black hole.
“I wish I had more good news about the FBI. Unfortunately, I don’t,” Fronczak said.
Fronczak says the feds have essentially told him to butt out. Through the website 8 News NOW created for tipsters, Paul has been in contact with a man who looks nearly identical to the age-progressed forensic drawings of what the real Paul Fronczak could look like today. The circumstances of this man’s family life fit the general story of the Chicago kidnapping. The FBI doesn’t seem interested.
“He has given them his DNA, which he had to beg them to take back in October. Now, he is getting emails from the agents saying it could take six, seven, eight, nine months before they even get to it. So meanwhile, it is tearing his family apart because they are going through the same thing my family and I are going through,” Fronczak said.
Paul’s attempts to communicate with the FBI have been rebuffed.
“Basically, leave us alone?” I-Team Chief Investigator George Knapp asked.
“Yeah.” Fronczak replied.
“Do you get the senses its just not a very high priority or what?” Knapp asked.
“Honestly, I’m not part of the agency but a case that is 50 years old that you are on the verge of solving should be a really huge thing,” Fronczak said.
Another theory that has surfaced appeared in Slate Magazine in December. It looks at connections between the Fronczak kidnapping and a notorious welfare queen of the 1960s.
Paul and his family had high hopes that DNA evidence would solve the dual mysteries. He has submitted more samples than he can remember, many of them to ancestry.com, which has a massive genealogy and DNA database. Ancestry.com was initially optimistic.
“But as much as I’ve Googled, and the 300 tests I’ve taken. I’m not part of any haplogroup that is available out there now. Basically, my DNA doesn’t have anybody’s match,” Fronczak said.
Despite the setbacks, he is hopeful that the mystery will be solved.
Ancestry.com has located what it thinks is a third cousin. That person has agreed to help find any common link to the mystery man living in Henderson, no matter how long and arduous the search might be.