From 1938 through 1953, Jennie Lee King gave birth to four boys, putting the older three up for adoption or in foster homes. She was born Barnett Rudio in Louisville, KY on December 20, 1918 the daughter of Wallace Rudio and Lillian Barbara Winkler. Jennie may have been born out of wedlock as, soon after she was born, Lillian married Walter L. King who supposedly adopted her and renamed her Jennie Lee King.
Jennie moved with her family to Indianapolis, IN in the 1920s. Soon after graduating from Technical High School, she became pregnant and gave birth to her oldest son Michael Lee King on March 23, 1938 at St. Elizabeth’s Home for Unwed Mothers. On his birth certificate, his parents are listed as Arnold and Stella Davis, but Michael’s father is unknown. He was raised in the King household believing Lillian was his mother.
Jennie did not have an easy life. When her mother Lillian died on March 18, 1943 at the age of 48, the King household dissolved, leaving Jennie on her own. Her older three brothers were in the service and no longer at home. Jim was Machinist Mate at Pearl Harbor, Bill was a Seaman First Class in the Solomon Islands, and Augie was Staff Sergeant in the Army Air Force in England. The youngest brother, Bob, had recently graduated from high school and was celebrating his graduation and the fact that he, too, was going into the service with his brothers. He was on a picnic with his friends when he was killed in a fall from a 150-ft cliff. In the meantime, to make her life even more difficult, Jennie had developed a serious case of spinal meningitis that left her crippled in her right hand.
In spite of her hardships, Jennie tried to keep Michael with her. Her life was unstable as she moved among various rooming houses in Indianapolis. She was finally offered a place to live by a kindly old man named Jake Weber. He had noticed Jennie crying on the steps of nearby St. Patrick church one day. After hearing about the loss of her mother and her recent illness, he took her into his home in return for taking care of the housekeeping. It was a comfortable arrangement for everyone.
In July 1945, Jake died and left Jennie and Mike a small amount of money and a place to stay until the probate was complete. But Jennie, soon back on her own, realized she could no longer care for Michael. Her only option was to place him in St. Elizabeth’s Home under the auspices of Catholic Charities. Michael was never adopted, but instead placed in a series of foster homes over the next few years. He finally ran away in 1952 at the age of 14. Mike met his wife Mary the following year, and married her at age 15. They are now grandparents and have been married for nearly 60 years.
In 1963, after much research, Mary Davis located Jennie King. Jennie had since had a son Norman in 1953, eventually marrying Norman’s father William Lower on December 29, 1964. After becoming more comfortable with the Davis’, Jennie allowed Mike to meet his younger brother. Jennie also revealed to the Davis’ that she had had an additional son who she named Robert Lee King, after her youngest brother Bob. However, Jennie had given Robert up for adoption when he was three and a half years old in the early 1950s. She did not know his whereabouts.
Jennie died on July 10, 1967 from injuries she received in a car accident. She also had peritonitis, diabetes, vertical fractures, amd malnutrition. She was buried in an unmarked grave in Washington Park East Cemetery in Indianapolis on 13 July 1967.
Over many years, Mary Davis continued to search for Robert Lee King, her husband Mike’s missing brother. But she had almost nothing to go on. In late 2007, while making a new request for information from Catholic Charities in Indianapolis, the social worker noticed a matching request from another adoptee named Carl Litel. The worker quickly realized the two men were probably brothers.
Mike and Mary were excited, believing they had finally located Mike’s missing brother Robert Lee King. They were even more excited to find that Carl was not the missing brother at all, but an additional brother Patrick that Jennie had never revealed. The whereabouts of Robert Lee King were still a mystery.
Jennie’s second son Carl Litel (Patrick King) was born February 5, 1946 in St. Elizabeth’s Home for Unwed Mothers. Jennie only saw her son long enough to hold him right after he was born. He was adopted at birth and renamed Carl Litel.
Carl and Norman finally met for the first time at the grave of their mother Jennie Lee King in Washington East Cemetery, Indianapolis, on Memorial Day, May 26, 2008. Mike and Norman had since placed a stone on Jennie’s formerly unmarked grave. Mike met them on a trip later in the year. Upon meeting, the three brother found they have lot of things in common. Norman and Mike are both married and have children and grandchildren. Norman works for the U. S. Government, Michael is retired from employment at Walt Disney in California, and Carl is the general contractor for all the Indian restaurants in Indianapolis and most of the Indian restaurants in the State of Indiana.
That is where things stood until October 2009 when a friend forwarded Mary a series of articles about me that appeared in the Orange County Register. The two articles “Will this John Doe stump the ‘DNA Detective?'” on October 5 and “A past with no beginning, Man’s amnesia stumps even the DNA Detective” on October 8 described my search for Benjaman’s identity. Mary had first learned about Benjaman when he appeared on the Dr. Phil show on October 16, 2008, and had become curious about whether he could be Mike’s missing brother. When she contacted me, she explained how Mike, Carl, and Norman had been reunited, then continued:
We have all met and through our studies of the Catholic records find that there is yet another brother which we cannot find. The Catholic Charities say they have lost his records. We asked the Dr. Phil Show if they could check DNA and see if these brothers are related to Benjamin Kyle. We have never received an answer from Dr. Phil. This brother would probably be in his 60’s. My husband was the oldest brother at 71 and Norman is the youngest brother. The other two brothers would be inbetween. They all have the same mother, but different fathers.
I have a Davis Family Tree on ancestry.com you may wish to check. I hope you will be able to find something regarding these four brothers. It would be good to see all four together. The brothers are all willing to be tested for DNA. — Mary Davis
Thinking it over, I suspected that Mary could be right. The missing brother would be about 60 years old, born in Indianapolis, adopted out by Catholic Charities. Furthermore, Mike’s father’s family name was given as Davis, which could be considered a variation on Davidson. Carl, the brother born in 1946, was a well-known general contractor in the restaurant industry. Occupations sometimes run in families…
To be continued…
Part I, Part II, Part III, Conclusion