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Meet Benjaman Kyle
December 5, 2011 4:33 PM   Subscribe

On August 31, 2004, a naked, bruised man was discovered behind a Burger King at the intersection of Interstate 95 and Highway 17 in Richmond Hill, Georgia. He had no memory of who he was. Fingerprint and DNA searches were unsuccessful. His identity continues to remain missing.
posted by vidur (90 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite

 
I was hot and I was hungry, ok? I'm always bruised.
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:36 PM on December 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


Simple - there is a greater universe beyond our comprehension or control, and the denizen of that universe had just reluctantly brought Pierce Hawthorne into the game.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:38 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pierce Hawthorne? My first guess was Walter White.
posted by bigendian at 4:39 PM on December 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


I am so sick of these viral marketing campaigns for JJ Abrams' new project.
posted by lattiboy at 4:41 PM on December 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


Can we start the over comments again?
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 4:43 PM on December 5, 2011 [27 favorites]


I'm sorry, perhaps it's because I'm new to bruised, naked men, but what are "over comments" exactly?
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 4:46 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can we start the over comments again?
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 4:43 PM on December 5 [+] [!]


And forget everything that has come before? HAS NO LESSON BEEN LEARNED?
posted by FatherDagon at 4:47 PM on December 5, 2011 [13 favorites]


This is kinda fascinating... you'd think if he had friends or family, they'd have notified the police and he'd be on the missing persons register. You'd think if he was homeless or a vagrant, he'd be known by the police or staff at the various institutions that would have had interactions with him. You'd think if he was from the area, he'd have some connections that would have come to light by now. You'd think if he was from out of the area, then something very strange had to happen to get him there...
posted by twirlypen at 4:48 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


And forget everything that has come before? HAS NO LESSON BEEN LEARNED?

'And that was your first wish,' smiled the genie.
posted by RokkitNite at 4:48 PM on December 5, 2011


HERB
Okay, so you had a dream about this
place. Tell me.

DAN
Well ... it's the second one I've had, but
they were both the same......they start
out that I'm in here but it's not day or
night. It's kinda half night, but it
looks just like this except for the
light, but I'm scared like I can't tell
ya. Of all people you're standing right
over there by that counter. You're in
both dreams and you're scared. I get
even more frightened when I see how
afraid you are and then I realize what it
is - there's a man...in back of this
place. He's the one ... he's the one
that's doing it. I can see him through
the wall. I can see his face and I hope
I never see that face ever outside a
dream.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:49 PM on December 5, 2011 [19 favorites]


Uh, can we start the comments over, is what I meant. Is anyone going to comment on the post?

On preview, thank you twirlypen!
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 4:51 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Benjaman/BK is on 23andme. MeFites who are members there, go check whether you share a bit of DNA with him! (I don't)
posted by andraste at 4:54 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had the same reaction as twirlypen. You'd think if he had been in the area for any length of time, someone would have known him. Though given that there was no investigation (really?) until three years after the fact, if he was homeless and a wanderer, the few people he might have known could easily have long gone.
posted by maxwelton at 4:55 PM on December 5, 2011


The wikipedia link has the best summary of the DNA (including Y Chromosome) of all the links, for anyone interested and normally disinclined to look at the wikipedia.
posted by Rumple at 4:58 PM on December 5, 2011


You think somebody would know this guy. Someone would have worked with him or been friends with him at least. Rented an apartment to him? Something?

That nobody seems to know who he was before ... damn, that's lonely.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:02 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


That wikipedia link says that he can't get a job because he doesn't have a social security number.

Seriously? How diseased is the bureaucracy if they won't issue a new SSN to a guy with long term retrograde amnesia?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:03 PM on December 5, 2011 [18 favorites]


And somewhere eight thousand miles away, puzzled men of courage find nothing in a tunnel but themselves, alone in shadows and darkness.
posted by Spatch at 5:03 PM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Golly that Doe Network site is fascinating. Like this one about the beautiful girl who died dancing.
posted by crush-onastick at 5:06 PM on December 5, 2011 [12 favorites]


Can't they get some hints from his accent? If he pronounces "park" as "pork," he might indeed be from Indy.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 5:07 PM on December 5, 2011


He seems so much more accepting of his memory loss than I would expect. It didn't just take 3 years to open investigations, it took someone else to encourage him to try and figure it out! Anyone know if this is normal for a sufferer of massive amnesia?
posted by zinful at 5:10 PM on December 5, 2011


Can't they get some hints from his accent? If he pronounces "park" as "pork," he might indeed be from Indy.

Yup. From the Doe Network entry: "A linguist has said his accent has traces of northern Indiana and Oklahoma."
posted by vidur at 5:11 PM on December 5, 2011


Obviously he's a space alien. The amnesia is just a cover.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:11 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pierce Hawthorne? My first guess was Walter White Bishop.
posted by The Whelk at 5:12 PM on December 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Part of me wishes this were some weird scam, because if it's true, it's very sad.

Come on MeFi, you can figger it out!!
posted by BlueHorse at 5:15 PM on December 5, 2011


With no identity, he has no Social Security number, and, as a result, he cannot get a job or collect any benefits from the government. Rep. Kingston is trying to help Benjaman get a new card, but so far his efforts have fallen flat.

"They have talked and talked to [the] Social Security [office], and they are adamant that the presumption is that I already have a Social Security card, so they cannot give me another one. They have asked for medical reports, and we have given them all that. Still, nothing."


Good lord. It's been six damn years. Get the man a new card.
posted by mediareport at 5:16 PM on December 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Baffling that he had no friends or family who would have looked for him, filed a missing person's report...etc.

I'd like to think that if I didn't show up for a while, people would at least wonder where I was.

I wonder if this happened now, whether you could find him through facial recognition on Facebook. If I had amnesia, you could probably get FB to identify me through the automatic photo tagging facility.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:18 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Benjamin was involved with Websleuths for awhile. Something happened and they dropped his case. I think eventually the owner there began suspecting that he was not entirely truthful about his case, but I don't know all the details.
posted by Biblio at 5:21 PM on December 5, 2011


This one is disturbing. The cops got an anonymous letter with maps leading them to the remains. Poor lady.
posted by winna at 5:22 PM on December 5, 2011


I wonder if this happened now, whether you could find him through facial recognition on Facebook.

Facebook facial recognition identified a picture of my cat's butt as my friend Jeff.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:23 PM on December 5, 2011 [59 favorites]


Jeff ought to shave more often.
posted by Jumpin Jack Flash at 5:25 PM on December 5, 2011 [12 favorites]


With no identity, he has no Social Security number, and, as a result, he cannot get a job or collect any benefits from the government. Rep. Kingston is trying to help Benjaman get a new card, but so far his efforts have fallen flat.

"They have talked and talked to [the] Social Security [office], and they are adamant that the presumption is that I already have a Social Security card, so they cannot give me another one. They have asked for medical reports, and we have given them all that. Still, nothing."
Infuriating, but I suppose the SS office, being the de-facto Federal Identity Papers Bureau, worry that if they give this guy a card, there will follow a flood of similar requests by fakers. This is what we get for allowing SS numbers to become so important.
posted by Western Infidels at 5:26 PM on December 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think the schizophrenia thing is likely to be the key to how it happened and the lack of anybody evidently looking from the other side. It's unfortunate, but a lot of people with that kind of mental illness end up just sort of... let go, by their families. I hate to put it that way, but I've got a family member in that position, and his parents have pretty much exhausted themselves trying to keep tabs on him. It's hard. I suspect at this point, if he went missing for awhile, no, he wouldn't be reported missing, because everybody would just assume it was intentional and that he'd come back when he was ready to.

I think it'd be very possible that somewhere out there, he has a family who thinks he's just doing his own thing wherever and certainly not aware of the possibility that he'd be so bad off he'd forget where to go home to if he needed them. (Though at the back of my mind, something also reminds me that there's a possibility that there's a family out there, too, who told him not to come back.)

So that happens, and he decides he wants to go away for awhile, and picks Atlanta because it'll be a better place to winter if he doesn't have anywhere to stay than further north. Then some kind of assault, and he ends up in this position. The horrific thing to me is the idea that even if he *was* homeless, an assault like that should not have been discarded with no follow-up.
posted by gracedissolved at 5:29 PM on December 5, 2011 [15 favorites]


The thing I don't get, grace, is that he doesn't seem to be schizophrenic now. So if he was before, why isn't he now?...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:30 PM on December 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Facebook facial recognition identified a picture of my cat's butt as my friend Jeff.

Christ, what an... nah, too easy.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:30 PM on December 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


louche mustachio: "Facebook facial recognition identified a picture of my cat's butt as my friend Jeff."

You're uploading photos of your cat's butt. Facial recognition algorithms are not really what I'm concerned about in that sentence.

Oh... oh god, is "louche mustachio" some sort of code for cat butt porn?
posted by Riki tiki at 5:37 PM on December 5, 2011 [21 favorites]


My most haunting Does:

A hiker who left a notebook, only partly legible now, asking "Lib" to claim his remains. A drawing of a cat on the notebook cover, a joke about taking his ashes up in a glider.

"Jason Doe", killed in a traffic accident, with his Grateful Dead T-shirt and tickets.

The full-term-pregnant lady, who'd had recent eye surgery and was found at the end of a trail which is "difficult terrain for the average hiker, let alone a woman who is nine months pregnant".

The lady who died in the cemetery, next to a mini Christmas tree, listening to Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner.

"Mary Anderson", who clearly didn't want to be identified.

"Lyle Stevik", who'd lost a lot of weight recently and left money for the room.

All these people have so many clues associated with them, and should have been identified by now. And they're just the tip of the iceberg of unidentified people.
posted by andraste at 5:40 PM on December 5, 2011 [43 favorites]


Empress, he seems to have had two major psychotic periods and some treatment with antipsychotic drugs, as well as the diagnosis, since he was picked up. I am no kind of expert, but I know my cousin has good times and bad times. It's really hard to tell, just from Kyle's self-report when he admits he doesn't want other people to think that he's schizophrenic, whether he's had any continuing features of mental illness or not. I really don't think this should be dismissed if he is, though, and I can see why he'd be worried that it would be.
posted by gracedissolved at 5:43 PM on December 5, 2011


My advice for not wanting to be deeply depressed is not to read the ones about babies or children.
posted by winna at 5:46 PM on December 5, 2011


Sites like The Doe Network shake me deep down. This world is nearly full of people and yet so, so many people wind up lost, alone, and unknown. It's scary to think how disconnected one can become.
posted by tcv at 5:53 PM on December 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


andraste, those are all ridiculously sad. =(
posted by King Bee at 5:54 PM on December 5, 2011


I had a schizophrenic uncle. He dissapeared from a small central Mexico town, with no id or money. Months later family friends vacationing at Disneyland recognized him dumpster diving in Los Angeles.

It took months of therapy before he could or would remember who he was.

He died in a robbery years later.

My relatives say i look a lot like him. I have thought how easy it would be for me to end up like this guy. I am afraid I'd I tattoo my own name on my body I would just slice it off with a knife.

Scary story.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 5:56 PM on December 5, 2011


Even in "good times", schizophrenics act differrently than those without the disorder. The woman he lives with would know there was something up with him. Plus, over the course of 7 years its likely he would have more than two psychotic episodes especially since he seems to not currently be taking antipsychotic meds.
posted by dave78981 at 6:05 PM on December 5, 2011


Facebook facial recognition identified a picture of my cat's butt as my friend Jeff.

That's ridiculous. I know your friend Jeff and he looks more like a dog's butt.
posted by DU at 6:11 PM on December 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


I find it impossible to believe that no one knows who these people are. Four people go missing at the same time and no one reports it? How is that possible?

On November 10, 1985, a hunter discovered the skeletal remains of an adult female and one female child in a 55-gallon drum. The remains were located off of Everwood Drive, Bear Brook State Park, Allenstown, New Hampshire. On May 9, 2000, the skeletal remains of two additional female children were recovered also in a 55-gallon drum, approximately 100 yards from the original discovery. DNA testing confirmed that two of the children were biologically related to the adult female. All four victims may be biologically linked, and that all four victims had been deceased for the same length of time.
posted by winna at 6:12 PM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Websleuths has a different take on BK. Not so appealing.
posted by grounded at 6:12 PM on December 5, 2011


I think I would have to disappear way way outside the u.s. to be that unidentifiable. that bothers me more than it comforts me.
posted by yesster at 6:15 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]



louche mustachio: "Facebook facial recognition identified a picture of my cat's butt as my friend Jeff."

You're uploading photos of your cat's butt. Facial recognition algorithms are not really what I'm concerned about in that sentence.

Oh... oh god, is "louche mustachio" some sort of code for cat butt porn?


You're the first person to figure it out.

It's a picture of the whole entire cat - Facebook recognized that part of the picture as Jeff's grey-bearded face.

Shaving was suggested and rejected at the time of the incident.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:16 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


For people reading through Doe Network, it'd be good to do a search for your town to see if possibly you could help out identifying someone.
posted by Deflagro at 6:24 PM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I find it impossible to believe that no one knows who these people are. Four people go missing at the same time and no one reports it? How is that possible?

I'd assume, unfortunately, when women and children are involved, that the only person in a position to report them missing would be the spouse/boyfriend who murdered them.
posted by elizardbits at 6:24 PM on December 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


So that's what happened to the Russian!
posted by Apocryphon at 6:26 PM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's a picture of the whole entire cat - Facebook recognized that part of the picture as Jeff's grey-bearded face.

Shaving was suggested and rejected at the time of the incident.


Of course! It's almost as mean as declawing.

Or did you mean the cat?
posted by DU at 6:29 PM on December 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


The other really puzzling ones are the unidentified couples found together. That's two sets of families, friends and associates who should be missing someone.
posted by andraste at 6:32 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Years ago I did maintenance work for a mobile home park while in college. We had a guy who was a few months behind in rent so eventually we went into his house. Everything was just like you'd expect to find in a lived in house, but he wasn't there. There was mail, jars of pennies, cloths around the place, bed half-made, TV on, etc. Then we noticed that the half-eaten breakfast on the table had clearly been there for a LONG time. He never showed up and we and the police never tracked him down even though we had his name and other identifiable info. It turned out he always paid his rent and other bills 6 months ahead so it could have been gone for up to 6 months before we, the utilities, bill collectors, etc. noticed. He lived 10 feet away from people for several years, but they didn't know him at all because he "mostly kept to himself."

We assumed that he just moved on or skipped town for some reason, but it always seemed odd that he left everything (including cash, a pistol, some modest valuables) in the house and the TV on. After reading about BK and some of the people on the Doe Network I'm starting to wonder all over again.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 6:34 PM on December 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


No thread like this is complete without a reference to my favorite high-weirdness unidentified person: the Taman Shud Case.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:35 PM on December 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


He's in the federal witness protection program. The feds know damn well he's a fraud, but they can't out him. That's why no records are found. They were erased on purpose (or made inaccessible to search).
posted by ctmf at 6:37 PM on December 5, 2011


He's in the federal witness protection program.

I didn't know the witness protection program now came with a segment on Dr. Phil.
posted by kithrater at 6:39 PM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Websleuths has a different take on BK. Not so appealing.

The FPP article addresses this, FWIW.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:40 PM on December 5, 2011


They couldn't stop him from going on Dr. Phil without revealing that he was in the program. As long as he doesn't violate the agreement by engaging in criminal activity or outing himself, they can't say anything.

(I'm making this up, of course. Interesting premise for a book, though, if I could think up a reason why he'd want to do that in the first place.)
posted by ctmf at 6:44 PM on December 5, 2011


That was a good article, thanks for posting it.
posted by codacorolla at 6:50 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, just came here to mention both the Guardian and AOL articles (the "continues" link) address the Websleuths woman's claim - "I also spoke with the Richmond Hill Police Department. I was told without a doubt there were NO injuries to Benjamin other than he was naked and he had scabies" - that Kyle wasn't beaten. She claims to have been told that by the Richmond police in a private meeting, but the Guardian reporter gets a different story out of the officer who was supposed to have spoken to her:

However, Harold Copus, an investigator with more than a decade's experience as an FBI case manager, who was brought in by the Dr Phil show to look into Kyle's story, supports his version of events. "I spoke to the EMTs [paramedics], Burger King staff and responding police officers. Not only was Kyle unconscious when he was found, they thought he was dead."

...I email the RHPD chief of police and get no response. I then call the switchboard and get through to the very officer the Websleuths member alleged had given the suggestion that Kyle was conscious and uncooperative when found. I tell him I have quotes from Copus stating unequivocally that Kyle was not conscious when found. "Not conscious, yes, sir," he replies with what I feel is hesitation. "Unable to speak," I clarify. "Unable to speak, yes," he replies.


Both Kyle and the Richmond police seem to have made odd, unsupported statements but if the police actually told Websleuths in a private meeting that there was no evidence Kyle had been beaten, that seems fucked up. You have to wonder what they were trying to do, aside from fuck the guy.
posted by mediareport at 6:56 PM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


So I know nothing about Websleuths but my impression solely from reading the first few pages of the above link is they are not the most level headed or objective group of people. At all.
posted by fshgrl at 6:57 PM on December 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sounds like The Man Without a Past.
(One of the best movies, ever).
posted by ovvl at 7:03 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Those Websleuth people sound like a right lot of idiots. "He must be faking it because he hardly ever posts"? Disappointing, because the idea of everyday joes turning sleuth and solving disappearances sounds cool.
posted by thelastcamel at 7:04 PM on December 5, 2011


I'm on Websleuths although I rarely post. They're like most (nonMefi) web forums; some sensible and objective, but they tend to be drowned out by others who are not. There are some well-meaning people there who aren't especially well-informed, some who clutch at unlikely theories, some who are straight-out gullible, and some who are so passionate about their particular pet missing person(s) that they get very agitated and argumentative.

Missing and unidentified persons forums attract some strangeness. I left another very prominent group because I was so annoyed by the (well-respected, in some cases directors/moderators) people who'd have theories about the unidentified based on "facts" like "All American women shave their legs every day" or "Everyone wears underwear under their pyjamas" or "Australians are all tanned and athletic". And the endless "He looks Russian to me!" "Well, he looks Native American to me!" "No, he looks Greek to me!"
posted by andraste at 7:06 PM on December 5, 2011


correction: "She claims to have been told that by the Richmond police" should be "She claims a Websleuths member in Georgia had been told that by the Richmond police."
posted by mediareport at 7:12 PM on December 5, 2011


The other really puzzling ones are the unidentified couples found together. That's two sets of families, friends and associates who should be missing someone.

This one is weird, too. Eight men left in one place, killed between 1980 and 2000. It sounds like a pattern to me.

On March 23, 2007 Fort Myers police recovered the bones from nearly eight complete bodies with the help of area agencies, cadaver dogs and forensic experts, in a wooded forest near Rockfill and Arcadia Streets in Fort Myers.
posted by winna at 7:26 PM on December 5, 2011


Just curious, do blood/organ donation registries ever serve any use in Doe cases like these? Either to screen Does against donor info (whatever they use, blood type? DNA?) or if there's evidence a Doe has a donated organ. AFAIK I've never been fingerprinted or had a DNA sample taken, but there's a bone marrow registry somewhere with my cheek swab in it.

(if cops DO use donor records, then hey! Even more, if macabre, reason to donate tissue!)
posted by nicebookrack at 7:27 PM on December 5, 2011


Websleuths has a different take on BK. Not so appealing.

Uncharitable, especially considering the historical evidence. The guy has what they used to call "shell shock" - PTSD - exemplified in a delusional syndrome.

In WWI and WWII, soldiers used to come down with partial paralysis or blindness... and it would be utterly, absolutely real to them, and the only "cure" was to load them on an ambulance headed to to front line. Their brain had sold them a lie to escape horror... a horror "BK" most likely relives in flashbacks and bad dreams. (Try living with a PTSD victim, when they wake up terrified and in full fight-or-flight mode. Not fun for anyone.)

This kind of scam is impossible to pull-off long term. The logical conclusion is severe mental illness... and perhaps, an indication his past needs to be left behind so he can concentrate on the future.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:25 PM on December 5, 2011


I hope that Mr. Kyle finds his way home.

After slugging through a bunch of postings on WS, it looks as though some of their members have been pretty mean spirited. Did the forum admin Tricia ever share the documents that she said showed that "Benjamin Kyle was not the victim of any sort of head injury as he has claimed"
posted by 26.2 at 8:35 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


A mysterious naked man has been reported
on Cranston Avenue. The police are performing
the usual ceremonies with coloured lights and sirens.
Almost everyone is outdoors and strangers are conversing
excitedly
as they do during disasters when their involvement is
peripheral.

'What did he look like?' the lieutenant is asking.
'I don't know,' says the witness. 'He was naked.'


from my favourite Alden Nowlan poem.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 8:35 PM on December 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


The lady who died in the cemetery, next to a mini Christmas tree, listening to Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner.

She laid down to die in the infants burial section, and autopsy notes a c-section scar. Jesus Christ. Not bedtime, advent season reading.
posted by availablelight at 9:12 PM on December 5, 2011


I recently found this John/Jane Doe page on my local police station's website. It's amazing that there are so many unidentified bodies out there.
posted by bendy at 9:16 PM on December 5, 2011


Having analysed Kyle's medical notes, King subjected him to 21 separate neuropsychology tests. His conclusion was definitive. Kyle has "disassociative amnesia" which is a "manifestation of a psychiatric illness". This fits within Kopelman's definitions for psychological-driven retrograde amnesia. King states that Kyle's behaviour "is not suggestive of malingering" and the final sentence of his report ends: "To him, his lack of memory prior to 2004 is real."

I can't get past the wording at the end. "To him, his lack of memory...is real." Is real? To him? Does that imply that it's not real from someone else's perspective? That, somehow, there being a psychological explanation for it means it's a less serious, perhaps, or phony issue? It's like we're supposed to be able to say the following:"To him, his lack of memory is real. For the rest of us, however, his lack of memory is not real." That makes no sense to me.

I'm guessing what is meant is just that he really he isn't faking it. But that's not what's implied. What's implied by that wording is that he isn't a real amnesiac, that his issue is somehow less worthy of concern because of the psychological explanation.
posted by meese at 9:31 PM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


And bendy, your local cops have the "No go, no eat, no drink, murder" Jane Doe on their list. She's another strange one (and sadly another one almost certainly suffering from mental illness)
posted by andraste at 9:35 PM on December 5, 2011


...fair warning that the "located" list doesn't get much better, in places:

Elisa Claps
Elisa Claps was last seen at home in Potenza, Italy on September 12, 1993. Her remains were found bricked into a church roof in Potenza in March 2010.
posted by availablelight at 10:00 PM on December 5, 2011



I can't get past the wording at the end. "To him, his lack of memory...is real." Is real? To him? Does that imply that it's not real from someone else's perspective? That, somehow, there being a psychological explanation for it means it's a less serious, perhaps, or phony issue? It's like we're supposed to be able to say the following:"To him, his lack of memory is real. For the rest of us, however, his lack of memory is not real." That makes no sense to me.


I suspect that as far as the pyschologist is concerned, the memories are there but so locked away they may as well be totally gone.
posted by Jilder at 11:07 PM on December 5, 2011


This is an extremely fascinating post as it intrigues me on many levels. I'm wondering if anyone has done a statistical analysis of the relationship between missing person cases and unidentified corpses. It might be impossible to link them with evidence, but a numerical comparison between the two stats might be telling.

On a different note directed towards the web sleuths/skeptics: Back in 2009 I suffered a concussion and a subarachnoid hemorrhage from being knocked backwards on to my head by a car pulling out of a parking space. I experienced fairly significant memory loss and personality change from a relatively minor head trauma (if any head trauma can be minor). I am also employed in the field of psychology, so this whole process was interesting to me as it would relate to clients that I work with.

That being said, I think my point is that a lot of people don't understand how fragile their consciousness is, and as such can't fathom that a person could lose their complete memory from a trauma.
posted by Drumhellz at 12:46 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is an extremely fascinating post as it intrigues me on many levels. I'm wondering if anyone has done a statistical analysis of the relationship between missing person cases and unidentified corpses. It might be impossible to link them with evidence, but a numerical comparison between the two stats might be telling.

Related, I swear I read somewhere an analysis of long–term disappearance patterns which estimated a potential number of serial killers. It was more sophisticated than it sounds, but obviously it was working from the base that some classes of people just don't "go missing".
posted by Jehan at 1:26 AM on December 6, 2011


Surely there's a way to issue him a temporary SSN at least to track him in the system. After 6 years, I think that's enough time to ensure he's not faking it.
posted by arcticseal at 4:06 AM on December 6, 2011


Surely there's a way to issue him a temporary SSN at least to track him in the system. After 6 years, I think that's enough time to ensure he's not faking it.

Seriously. How many years would need to pass before a missing person could legally be declared dead? 7 years, no? So let it work both ways - once that time has passed, give him a new number and let him get on with his life.
posted by elizardbits at 5:07 AM on December 6, 2011


Seriously. How many years would need to pass before a missing person could legally be declared dead? 7 years, no? So let it work both ways - once that time has passed, give him a new number and let him get on with his life.

Presumably the calculus here is that cases like these are incredibly, incredibly rare but cases where people would try to get a new SSN for purposes of fraud or some other illicit use are very common, so it makes perfect sense to make it virtually impossible for an adult citizen to get a new SSN (witness protection and other forms of protective custody would pretty much be the only valid reasons I can think of). Sure, in this one case this dude gets screwed, but if the policy was more lax, many, many others could get screwed by fraud and stuff like that (not to mention illegal immigration). An exception should be made for this guy, but the policy itself seems valid to me.
posted by gkhan at 5:21 AM on December 6, 2011


This is chilling and sad.

People get "lost" all the time. Even in these days of documentation and surveillance.

I've known people who made an impact, pretty high-profile people you'd think would be remembered, and with shocking swiftness once they're gone folks expunge them from memory. We're bombarded with so much information on a daily basis it's hard to manage the load, even for the sharpest among us.

Not long ago I was approached at a funeral by a man I did not recognize. He proceeded to tell me that we'd worked together for several years, about ten years ago, and rattled off a few memories which convinced me he was not lying. I played along, but later was shocked to admit that I really had no memory whatsoever of the man or of even having worked with him. And I think I have pretty good recall.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:28 AM on December 6, 2011


"Seriously. How many years would need to pass before a missing person could legally be declared dead? 7 years, no?"

Yes, usually. (Special arrangements made after 9/11 for WTC victims with no remains.) And it took me 18 months to convince the judge to declare a guy who'd been missing for 20 years dead, so I feel like a court order for a new SSN would be a sufficiently high hurdle in and of itself to prevent most abuse. You could always stipulate the judge would have to order an INS investigation first and any shenanigans would lead to permanent loss of immigration rights/future amnesty/whatever, and make it a serious crime for citizens to shenaniganize in that fashion.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:47 AM on December 6, 2011


They say he recalled a partial SSN under hypnosis. Doesn't Social Security have records they can look through to see which ones match this partial recall and eliminate the ones for females, people of different ages, and people who aren't missing?
posted by xenophile at 7:17 AM on December 6, 2011


The wiki page mentions that the Selective Service records might be helpful. If his birthday that he recalls is correct (a pretty big if/) then he would have been drafted.
posted by pointystick at 7:28 AM on December 6, 2011


...fair warning that the "located" list doesn't get much better, in places:

I find some of the safely found cases disturbing, too, but in a different way.

"Lynn Anderson was found safe in 2001. She had been missing since 1978 from Rockford, Illinois."

Perhaps only for lack of information, the long period between going missing and being found fills me with a strange feeling of hopelessness. What happened in those 23 years? Why didn't she contact anyone? What happened when she was found?
posted by msbrauer at 7:41 AM on December 6, 2011


You'd think if he was homeless or a vagrant, he'd be known by the police or staff at the various institutions that would have had interactions with him.

Having just re-watched season 5 of The Wire, the very first thing that came to mind was that McNulty needs more resources from the Hall. He can't just let Marlo walk like that.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:31 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The wiki page mentions that the Selective Service records might be helpful. If his birthday that he recalls is correct (a pretty big if/) then he would have been drafted.

IIRC there was also something about how he would have been ineligible for service on medical grounds, wasn't there?
posted by elizardbits at 12:06 PM on December 6, 2011


Previously.

Also.
posted by neuron at 7:46 PM on December 6, 2011


I find some of the safely found cases disturbing, too, but in a different way.

Wow, you weren't kidding:

Salome Michelle Flett was abducted by a non family member in 1991 from British Columbia. She was recovered alive and well in November of 2003.

James Gerald Baxter was abducted by his non-custodial mother from Phoenix, Arizona on December 1, 1985. After he turned 21, he began his own search under the belief he might have been abducted. He located his poster on the web and made contact with his Dad.

William Ray Peters went missing in the late 1960's from Texas and was located deceased on December 12, 2002. He had been buried in California in 1968 and no one notified the family. Peters' granddaughter, Jolayne, found her grandfather on an ancestry site in 2002 and verified the information.

Keri Bray was last seen March 2, 1986 in Orem, Utah. In 1986, Bray told employees at Lakey Crest � a place for people with disabilities � that he wanted to go to Texas to become a cowboy. Bray was located in July 2007, when he crashed a tractor while working at a ranch. During the insurance-review process, an insurance-agency employee tried to learn more about Bray. A Google search on Bray's name brought up a link to his picture on the Doe Network. Bray had worked on this ranch for about 21 years.

In January 1971, Pat Teer disappeared from her sister's house, suffering from memory problems after an aneurysm and stroke. She was located safe in San Francisco in August 2004.

Juanita Elizabeth Howard was last seen about 1955 in Jacksonville, Florida. In August of 2006, it was discovered that she has passed away at the age of 83.

Linda Louise Grant. Grant had been missing since October of 1984 from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. She was located in June 2006. She was not aware she was reported as missing.

Vera Daisy Brown. Brown was last seen in Temora, New South Wales, Australia on February 6, 1972. She was 46 years old at the time of her disappearance. NSW police located her alive 32 years later in Australia in November 2004. The month before she disappeared, she had met a flash-dressing mystery man who promised Vera Daisy Brown the world. This smooth-talking svengali convinced her to take a holiday to Brisbane. As the fortnight holiday folly turned into months, Vera and her new beau wrote a handful of confusing letters, promising to be home soon. But then, in November, 1972, the letters stopped. Vera simply vanished and was reported missing. It may seem improbable, but Vera says she stayed away so long because her beau spun her a lie. He convinced her there were debt collectors after them and they had to go into hiding. She changed her name several times and moved through different states. Vera couldn't see through his lies. Vera is ashamed and embarrassed at what she put her family through. They have all since been reunited.

posted by Catseye at 3:09 AM on December 7, 2011


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