I read the article about you in the June 2010 issue of More Magazine, and am curious about one thing. Are you the same person who competed on Wheel of Fortune in 1991? If so, I was one of your competitors. Just curious!
Margot Theresa Cox
In fact, I was on Wheel of Fortune in 1991. (I lost. I was the third contestant in line, and the other two women, including Margot, mopped up on the puzzles before I could get a letter in edgewise.)
When I wrote her back, identifying myself as her competitor, Margot answered:
When I got your response I had to dig out my copy of the shows. Sure enough, there you were! I was next to you, in the middle. But here’s the truly weird thing – sometime during the past couple of weeks, I was trying to remember where I had heard the phrase “I speak a smattering of other languages.” Well, you are the one who said it. Isn’t that odd? Anyway, I lived in Florissant, MO back in 1991. I have been in Temple, TX since 1993.
I enjoyed reading the article about your work. Some of what you have done is truly amazing. And what a career transformation! Much of what you do is obviously very scientific, but I love it when you can use the internet to find someone. I recently was able to find a long-lost boyfriend I hadn’t heard from in well over 20 years! Not quite the same as your finds, but still so much more than we could have done without the net.
So if Margot can recognize me as her competitor on Wheel of Fortune nearly 20 years ago, why can’t anyone identify Benjaman Kyle?
The story of the amnesiac who goes by the name Benjaman Kyle is familiar to many people because of the media attention it has been given. Thanks largely to my efforts, he has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered, in the UK Guardian, AOL News, the Boulder Daily Camera, the Denver Post, and many other newspapers across the country. In October 2008, before I became involved with his identification, he appeared on the Dr. Phil television program. Benjaman has an article on Wikipedia that in September 2010 received just under 250,000 visitors. He has a Facebook page, too. In total, millions of people have read or heard about Benjaman. Yet after six years, we still don’t know who he is.
We have had some stunning close calls. In May 2009, we received a tip that a man closely resembling Benjaman appears in a YouTube video We Love You dedicated to missing persons. The man only appears for a few moments about 32 seconds into the video. I did not catch him until I was specifically told when to look for him.
To compare Benjaman to this missing person, I composed a new face from the right half of Mr. X’s face and the half of Benjaman’s face. The result was comical, but a fair indication that they resembled each other. I wrote to the person who had posted the video, only to be told that he had no further information about any of the people who appeared, not even their names. The images had been taken from missing persons flyers that had since been thrown away.
Fortunately, thanks to an intensive search of missing persons sites on the internet, we discovered Mr. X’s identity on the Thin Blue Line , the unofficial New South Wales police service website. He is Spiro Georgakopoulos, b. 10 December 1932, missing since 9 June 1990 from Bankstown, New South Wales. He is definitely not Benjaman.
Another close call occurred in July 2009 when Benjaman appeared in a series of articles in the Boulder Daily Camera and the Denver Post. Since Benjaman has some very accurate memories of the Round the Corner on the Hill restaurant in Boulder from the late 1970s-early 1980s, we felt we might be able to find someone who recognized him through publicity in the Boulder newspapers.
One of the first of about two dozen tips to come in was from Hardy Bullock, who told me that Benjaman resembled one of the coaches of his daughter’s 8- and 9-year-old softball team in about 1980. The coaches worked for the Round the Corner restaurant chain that was the corporate sponsor for the team. Hardy’s daughter was one of only two girls on the team. Hardy told me that the name of the coach appeared on the back of the photo as Ken M___. (See the coach on the right in the picture below.)
I agreed with Hardy that Benjaman resembled Ken M, but it was hard to say they were the same person, since the baseball picture had been taken 30 years ago. Fortunately, Ken’s last name was unusual, so that I quickly began to search for more information about him, to see if he had been reported missing.
Almost immediately, two former managers at Round the Corner contacted me independently identifying Benjaman as the same Ken M. This gave me more confidence that I finally had an identification. I had already contacted the family of the former owners of the restaurant who had seen the newspaper article. They were very helpful in giving me a list of people who worked for the restaurant. One of them was Bob T____, Ken’s best friend back in the 1980s. Unfortunately, when we finally got in touch with Bob, he told us that he had seen Ken at a barbeque just six months before. Bob also sent us a link to a photograph of Ken at the barbeque.
Benjaman was not Ken M.
To be continued…
Part I, Part II, Part III, Conclusion