Genealogy Today, by Betty Lou Malesky, CG
Forensic genealogy is a specialty gaining in importance today. A forensic genealogist acts as an independent third-party doing legal research for attorneys, corporations, courts, and other governmental entities and may have specialized training or experience in legal work in addition to genealogical expertise.
Forensics includes conducting research, finding missing persons, analyzing kinship problems, and reporting or appearing as a witness in the courtroom. Sometimes called heir searchers, forensic genealogists differ from traditional heir searchers who seek the deceased's missing kin in exchange for a percentage of the estate to which the missing heirs may be entitled.
Another use for forensics is helping to solve identity problems of persons who have lost their memory. A notable case today is that of a middle-aged man found naked, beaten, and likely left for dead behind a Burger King at the intersection of I-95 and Route 17 in Richmond Hills, Georgia. On August 31,2004 when found he was blind due to cataracts. A charity donated eye surgery, but when he was finally able to look in the mirror, he didn't recognize himself.
The man is thought to be around 60 years old, and at first was called "BK" since he surfaced at the Burger King. He has since adopted the pseudonym "Benjamin Kyle." The original Benjamin Kyle is a xenobiologist, a science-fiction character who appeared only in The Gathering, the movie pilot for the television series Babylon 5.
"Benjamin Kyle" has memories of living in Indiana as a child, recalls particular buildings such as the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Indianapolis, and the 25 cent grilled cheese sandwiches sold at the Indiana State Fair. He also remembers the area around the University of Colorado in Boulder, particularly a magazine, Restaurants & Institutionsin the university library. "Benjamin Kyle" has been featured in a number of newspapers and appeared on Dr. Phil's television program in October 2008. At that time, he mentioned having brothers, attending Catholic school, and being around restaurant equipment.
The Doe Network tries to help amnesiacs and others who have lost their identity determine who they are and whether they have living relatives. "Kyle" is listed there as a living "John Doe," Case #1007UMGA, but they have not succeeded in identifying him.
Colleen Fitzpatrick, PhD, a forensic genealogist is now assisting in the search. She has established a Wikipedia Website in hopes of attracting someone who may recognize "Benjamin Kyle's" photograph. Normally missing persons are found via their name, social security number, city directories, etc. In this instance it appears the best chance for solution will be DNA testing or finding someone who recognizes him. Age regressed photos appear on the Internet at http://monday4themissing.blogspot.com/2008/09/benjamin-kyle.html. Anyone who recognizes "Kyle" or has information that might help solve the case is asked to contact Bill Kirkconnell of the FBI in Savannah, Georgia, at 912-232-3716.
So far fingerprint comparisons, DNA tests, television appearances, newspaper articles, online postings, and hypnosis have all been unsuccessful. Read more about what has been done to try and identify "Benjamin Kyle" at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjaman_Kyle.
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3 August 2009
31 August 2009