After 11 years of searching for his true identity, a Florida man has rediscovered his history thanks to the efforts of a genetic genealogist. Benjamin Kyle was diagnosed with retrograde amnesia following an alleged beating. He has gained celebrity over the years for his efforts to rediscover his identity.
According to NBC 11Alive, Kyle was reported as a vagrant on a Burger King parking lot in the Savannah, Georgia, area in August 2004. EMS were brought to the scene and reported that Kyle was in bad shape and bore signs that he had been beaten on the head. He claimed to have no memory of who he was, and doctors diagnosed him with retrograde amnesia, a form of memory loss that prevents a person from remembering events before an injury.
Kyle had to invent a new name for himself, and chose the alias of “Benjaman Kyle” in reference to the Burger King franchise, which also has the initials of B.K. With nowhere to go, he made his way to Jacksonville, Florida.
Because it's hard to get through life without an identity, Benjamin Kyle struggled for years. Without a verifiable name and social security number, he was unable to get a job or be admitted into homeless shelters. He took his story to Jacksonville station News4Jax, attracting help from viewers who sympathized with his dilemma.
Kyle has spent years trying to rediscover his name and family, aided by genetic genealogy, a practice normally used to help adopted children find their biological parents.
The search for Kyle’s identity hit a snag in February 2015 when he ceased communication with genealogist Colleen Fitzpatrick, who had been collaborating with him on his search since 2008.
Fitzpatrick offered a critical assessment of Kyle’s motives, reports 11Alive. “I’m not sure Benjaman’s really interested in finding his identity or not,” she told reporters."If Benjaman was originally homeless, and he was a drifter and getting jobs, that once the mystery’s solved he would probably go back on the street again, he’d be homeless again, and the story would go away."
Despite Fitzpatrick’s speculation, Kyle ultimately discovered identity with the help of genealogist CeCe Moore. He now knows his birth name and the location of his family. He will not disclose his birth name until he has met with his family members.
Kyle says that he plans to stay in Jacksonville, saying, “my support system is here.”
He wrote a post online thanking all of those who helped him over the last 11 years, listing each by name. “If I have left anyone out, please forgive me,” he writes. “Everyone knows my memory is faulty.”