Benjaman Kyle

The Man without an Identity

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Benjaman Kyle

Imagine what it would be like to live without a Social Security Number, a driver's license, and a birth certificate. You could not get a job, you could not drive, you could not open a bank account nor apply for a credit card. It would be impossible for you to get through airport security to board a plane.

Yet Benjaman Kyle must function under these conditions every day. Due to a severe beating, he suffers from retrograde amnesia. He does not know who he is, so he cannot access the type of personal identification we take for granted. Yet he is a well-spoken, healthy 60 year old man. Benjaman is the only missing person whose whereabouts are common knowledge.

Databases that could be helpful, such as the FBI's NCIC fingerprint database have produced no matches. He has been Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA tested by the Center for Human Identification, the U.S. Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, and Family Tree DNA, but has not found any matches. Other records that could be mined for his identity are usually keyed on a person's name or Social Security number, but isn't that what we are looking for? And even if he does discover who he is, he may face legal problems accessing the information he needs to obtain proof of identity.

Benjaman appeared on the Dr. Phil television program in October 2008, yet not one of the millions of viewers came forward to identify him. He has a few memories of his life, including details of the Round the Corner on the Hill restaurant in Boulder, CO. Yet extensive media coverage over the 4th of July 2009 weekend by the Boulder Newspapers and Boulder Channel 9 news did not produce any useful leads.

Benjaman's case is outstanding in a world where we are supposed to be connected through the Six Degrees of Separation, and reveals the drawbacks of our emphasis on personal privacy. He offers a fascinating look at modern life from the outside. We are all connected to each other through our family, our neighbors, our friends, our work colleagues. We rely on our social security numbers, our driver's licenses, our credit cards to get through the week. Yet no one seems to know who Benjaman is, and until someone comes forward with information about him, he must live without the wrapper of personal identification that we take for granted.

Identifinders International's co-founder Colleen Fitzpatrick, PhD has been working with Benjaman over the last few months to discover his identity. She became involved with the project through her expertise in DNA identification. But she has gone beyond this to help reconstruct what might have happened to him, to search for his identity in new directions, and to obtain newspaper and media coverage to get his picture out to the public.

For updates on the case, please visit the Wikipedia article.

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