'I Had Amnesia': Missing Man Resurfaces After 20 Years, Wants Benefits

| by Jonathan Wolfe

A man who went missing for 20 years has resurfaced. Ten years after being declared dead by a New York Judge, Kwame Seku – known as Winston Bright before he went missing – is back in New York.

“My name is no longer Winston Bright. It is Kwame Seku,” he said. “And I am the same person.”

What happened to Seku during his twenty year absence depends on who you ask. His wife, Leslie Bright, and the couple’s three children say Seku intentionally ran off in 1992.

“He kissed me on the cheek, called me at lunchtime like he always did and again when he was on his way home,” Bright said. “He never made it.”

Here is Seku’s bizarre – and possibly unbelievable – account of what happened to him.

Seku claims he suffered a rare form of amnesia on his way home from work on the day he left. He did not know his name, where he lived, or who to contact to get answers to these new questions. Two years later he showed up in California. He enrolled in school, got a master’s degree, and settled down in Northern California. Then, in 2007, 15 years after leaving his family, he says memories of his former life came rushing back.

“[Winston Bright] was, in fact, alive and inexplicably found himself in California with no recollection of who he was or how he got there,” Seku said.

Shortly after arriving in New York, Seku took a DNA test. He was, in fact, the man formerly known as Winston Bright.

While Seku was away in California enjoying his new life and career, his family was falling apart. His wife and children were forced to move out of their comfortable New York home and into public housing.

“We had it rough,” Bright said. “We had no money.

One son, Aaron, was arrested for selling drugs and was only recently released. The other son, Eric, is still in jail.

“I had no father,” Aaron said. “Psychologically, it had a real toll on me.”

After Seku was declared dead, his former employer, Verizon, started paying survivor benefits to his wife. Now that he’s back, Seku wants benefits as well. He says he deserves them since he worked for the company for 20 years. Verizon said they will follow a court’s decision on whether or not to grant him the benefits.

As for Bright, who can’t help but feel abandoned by her husband’s departure, she says she will fight Seku for everything she can get.

“I will go at him for back child support, cat support, everything!” Bright said. “If he wants a fight, I’ll give him a fight!”

Seku, meanwhile, doesn't seem intent on righting any wrongs between him and his wife.

“I don’t care if she believes it or not,” he said. “Making your life without ID is a tough job, and I did it for years. I can’t waste time entertaining her.”

Sources: NY Daily News, DNA Info