Imagine waking up one morning and having no idea where you are, you have no idea what happened to you, how you got there in craziest of all you don’t even know your own name. The subject of amnesia has spawned a million soap opera plots, but the thing is, it is real and when you look into it, it’s.
Kind of horrific, like it’s, bad enough to get amnesia in a place that you’re, comfortable and safe and surrounded by people who know you and can kind of help you to recover those memories. But imagine having it in a place that you’ve never been before, and there’s, nobody there.
That knows you and you have no ID on you. This is exactly what happened to a man named Benjamin Kyle and after 16 years of searching for an answer. It’s, still a mystery. On August 31st 2004 an employee arrived at work at the Burger King in Richmond Hills Virginia and as he was making his way into the building, he noticed a person laying on the ground behind the dumpster.
He went over to check it out and he found a man beaten, bloody and completely naked, surrounded and covered with ants that were creating a rash all over his body. He was unconscious but alive and by the time the ambulance arrived.
He had. You know come back to consciousness, but he was still really incoherent. They took him to the hospital and they didn’t know what to call him, so they called him BK, dough kind of like John Doe, but the BK standing for Burger King.
He was a challenging patient at first for the first few days he wouldn’t even open his eyes or speak in any way. He was really averse to touch she didn’t like to be touched, especially on his chest. He would apparently get really violent, as somebody touched him on his chest a couple of times he called for priests and then, when the priests arrived, he kind of freaked out and called them demons.
The police obviously investigated the case. They ran his fingerprints and nothing came up. He didn’t have any ID on him, so it didn’t really know where to turn they looked at missing-persons reports, nothing.
So he stayed in the hospital for a few months and they took care of him as he got back to health and he kept you know being called BK doe that whole time, but in January 2005 they moved him to a homeless shelter in Savannah.
At this point, he didn’t want to be called BK anymore, so he settled on the name, Benjamin and in fact he believed that that was his real name and he even had the specific spelling the nei at the end, instead of the eye, He still couldn’t, remember his last name, so he kind of settled on Kyle is the last.
So he wound up going by Benjamin Kyle, which came from BK, which came from Burger King and he was in pretty bad shape when he was found outside of obviously getting beaten. All the hell up. He had really long scraggly, hair long beard, long dirty fingernails.
He had cataracts in his eyes that were so bad that he was practically blind and medical records were no help. The one thing they were able to find was he had a pin in his arm from a broken arm at some point in his past, but the pin that they used was so commonly used.
It would be impossible to trace so as a search dragged on. He kind of just settled in at the shelter the nurses that work there. They liked him a lot. They thought he was a lot more high-functioning than other people there.
He liked to read a lot, especially science fiction and the nurses enjoyed coming around and trying to help him jog his memory and after a while some memories did start to come back, but they were very random and weirdly specific.
I can’t. Remember getting grilled cheese sandwiches for a quarter at the Indiana State Fair when he was a kid he remembered moving to Boulder Colorado just before a big flood. He remembered really liking a restaurant in Boulder called mama Alana’s near remember: hating, a restaurant called Azar’s and he remembered seeing the 1976 film car wash at a theater in Denver.
So he couldn’t. Remember his name: couldn’t. Remember any family members, couldn’t, remember any jobs that he had had in the past, but they were able to figure out that he had lived at some point in Indiana and Colorado.
But memories are weird that way. You know some big things get lost in the shuffle, whereas some little weird specific things stand out like he, couldn’t, remember his family, but he could remember getting grilled cheese as a kid.
He also remembered those birthday was August, 29th, 1948, but the reason that he remembered that was his birthday was because he knew that it was exactly ten years before Michael Jackson’s birthday like in my case.
I share a birthday with Einstein, so that might be how I would remember my birthday in that case, so he became sort of a de facto employee at this homeless shelter he would clean and he would do odd jobs and stuff.
He collected a ring full of keys that would get him into places and he served as something of a custodian, because his eyes were so bad because of his cataracts. He was only able to clean just a like a spot around his feet, but eventually he did get cataract surgery and was able to see again and one of the big things that happened was.
He went to the mirror to see himself for the first time and he was stunned by how old he was like. He thought he was in his 20s or 30s, but he was actually 60 something years old. So his case dragged on he didn’t really have any place to stay, so he kind of stated this homeless shelter for a while and then in 2007 nurse started working there named Catherine Slater and she became obsessed with finding out his identity turns Out she was a former accountant and had a knack for solving problems.
She actually worked with the FBI trying to find some leads, and none of them really came up anywhere, but she did get him on the missing-persons list and to this day he’s. The only person that’s ever been on the missing-persons list, whose whereabouts were known it’s like he was a missing person, but not.
She also did a lot of work in the media, doing some local radio and TV segments and stuff trying to get some attention for this guy. She thought he was affable enough and nice enough that surely there’s, somebody out there that’s, missing him and looking for him, she even got him on dr.
Phil in somehow, even with that national media attention put on him. Nobody came forward claiming him no leads were found. There was a lot of people that called him with random stuff, but none of it ever came to anything now.
Eventually, he couldn’t stay at the homeless, shelter anymore, but he also couldn’t stay anywhere else, and he also couldn’t get a job because he didn’t have a social security number and it Turns out, if you don & # 39, t have a social security number.
You’re, not really a person, so she took him into her house and took care of them. He did little odd jobs here and there for money turns out. He was really good at fixing things and he had an encyclopedic knowledge of restaurant equipment clue he kept himself busy by fixing things around her house, which was nice and all, but he was also a hoarder, and this became a problem after a while and after a Little bit more time, she started to wonder if maybe he was kind of breaking things in that house, so that he would be able to fix them to kind of give himself a reason to stay there or give her a reason to keep him there.
But around 2009 they seemed to be on the verge of a breakthrough when Colleen Fitzgerald, genealogists joined them started to help them out with the hunt. Colleen was a genetic researcher and she thought that a little DNA research might crack the case wide open.
So she took some genetic samples and she compared it through 23andme and she found a lot of genetic similarities to a family named Powell on the East Coast. She was actually able to trace it back to the early 1800s, a guy named Abraham lovey Powell and traced that family tree down, but eventually the trail ran cold there wasn’t really anything that linked him to that family.
So this search just went on and on and on it was now 2011 and he had been living with Kathryn for for years and it wasn’t really working out anymore yeah. She started to think that maybe he wasn’t really interested in finding his identity and that maybe he was just enjoying the attention, so she started to not really trust him anymore and she has to believe now.
According to her, it was a pretty rough falling out, but he would later say that it was totally amicable and that he left so that she could take care of her mother. So he left Savannah made his way to Jacksonville Florida, where he was turned away at a homeless shelter, because he didn’t have a valid photo ID, and this is where, like the nightmare scenario begins like there was no place where he could stay There was no job that he could hold without a social security number.
He couldn’t, get a valid photo ID without a valid photo ID. He couldn’t. Do anything so he literally wound up just living in a field behind the police department. During this time he saw a newspaper story about a college student who was looking for documentary subjects, so he you know kind of desperately reached out to I’m, hoping that somebody would tell his story that filmmakers name was Josh wickstrom and he did A film about Benjamin called finding Benjamin had actually played at Tribeca in the Cannes Film Festival, but in the process he also contacted the local media and did a few stories about it and it & # 39.
S got the attention of a restaurant owner named Josh rut who owned a restaurant called the crazy fist restaurant and he gave Benjamin a job and a place to stay. So Benjamin was getting his life set up in Jacksonville and at the same time inexplicably, he cut off ties with Colleen.
Fitzpatrick Colleen had become kind of obsessed with finding his identity and she kept trying to get in touch with him and calling, and he wouldn’t return. Her phone calls anymore and the thing is this seemed to happen with a lot of people.
He seemed a lot less interested in finding his identity out than other people were, and the thing is to hear him describe it. He wasn’t all that interested in finding out his identity, because he didn’t know what that was.
He didn’t, have any memories of his family or the places that he used to live. So he didn & # 39. T really miss them like people would ask him if he missed his family and he would be like. I don’t know who they are.
So how can I miss them and plus if there were family and friends out there, they didn’t seem all that interested in finding him. So maybe it was kind of a bad situation. Maybe it wasn’t something he wanted to go back to and that’s understandable, but that aloofness also led some of the people that were helping him to think that maybe he was trying to escape or hide from something which is Essentially, what Colleen said in an interview after he had cut her off? She was really frustrated and she said something to the effect of you know.
All these people are trying to help him, but he could be anybody. He could be dangerous as far as she knows now. Benjamin responded to this on a Facebook post where he said that the reason he cut off ties with her is because she refused to share his genealogical data with him.
This is something she would later deny now. Somebody who did come to his defense on this was another genealogist named Cece Moore. She was actually a former beauty queen that found a second career as a DNA specialist.
She was actually an expert on what’s called autosomal DNA, which is DNA that you get from both parents, whereas a lot of DNA techniques require the Y chromosome and just kind of follow that line, and she and Colleen actually knew each other from You know various industry conferences and that kind of thing they were they weren’t friends or anything, but they were acquaintances, but this whole situation put a huge crack in their relationship.
Cece called Colleen’s. Refusal to share his genealogical data unethical, so shots fired, but then Colleen calls Cece and actress and said that she’s, not comfortable with her own accomplishment. So she has to steal mine genealogical drums, but Cece it turns out is actually pretty good at this.
She just managed to get in touch with one of the PAL family members just before a big family reunion and this family member agreed to collect DNA samples from all the people at the Reunion, and they were able to use this to come to some interesting new Conclusions and one of those conclusions was that there was actually a misidentified person in the Powell family tree.
That was actually a member of the Powell family that had split off from the rest of the family and moved to Indiana a little bit of detective work later. In Cece found in 1967 yearbook from Jefferson High School in Lafayette Indiana and among the pages of all the pictures she found this guy, his name was William Burgess Powell.
Finally, Benjamin Kyle had an identity. He had a hometown and he had two remaining brothers from his family where he grew up, but this is just the start of another mystery, because if you & # 39, re wondering why these brothers didn’t code.
Looking for him, it’s because they actually did go looking for him. When he first went missing in 1976, Benjamin Kyle or William, as it turns out, had entered what psychologists call a dissociative, fugue state people in fugue states suffer from what they call an involuntary eraser of identity.
They often take on new personalities, new names they become transitory. They travel a lot, they move and weirdly. They often abstain from sex. The word phew literally translates to flee and that’s kind of exactly what these people are doing.
They’re fleeing. You know painful memories and trauma now much like Walter White on Breaking Bad. In a lot of these cases, they think that it’s, actually somebody kind of faking it to get away from financial or other problems.
But there are dozens of cases of people who just go missing one day and don’t turn up for months or years later, where they just wake up somewhere and realize that they & # 39. Ve been living under a different identity and have absolutely no memory of the time that they were missing.
One of the earliest recorded cases of this was a guy named Ansel Brown in 1887. He got on a streetcar in Rhode, Island and then woke up. Eight weeks later in Pennsylvania, running a shop under the name, Ansel Bourne, clearly an inspiration for Jason Bourne and they’re, often related to childhood trauma or extreme stress.
It’s kind of like the brains way of protecting itself. From overwhelming stress, by being like, I, i’ma head out, so as Benjamin and CC started to, you know, put the pieces of his past back together. The evidence of a dissociative fugue just began to pile up.
According to his brother, Furman Powell, Benjamin or William, it turns out was his mom’s. Favorite and his dad did not handle that very well. Their father Furman Powell senior was a world war, two vet and today he probably would be identified as having PTSD, but he was an alcoholic and had rage issues and he often took that rage out on William clearly in an effort to escape a bad home situation.
At 16, William moved in with a family friend, and he stayed there for a few years until he graduated, and then he moved into a trailer home not too far away, but he still had dinner with the family every night and then in 1976 one night.
He didn’t, show up for dinner and nobody could find him and the police got involved. They found his car down river a few miles next to a dam, so his family feared the worst, but the police quickly tracked him down to Boulder Colorado.
He was actually working at a restaurant called Azhar’s, the same restaurant that he remembered hating. So much so the family reached out to him multiple times, but he never responded and, as the years went by his brothers just began to think that maybe he had just died because the last time they saw him, he was drinking and smoking really heavily and not Taking good care of himself, the last person to see him was a man named Chico Getz, who was a friend of his in Lafayette.
They worked in a movie theater together and they actually moved to Boulder Colorado to go. It was actually Williams idea to go to Boulder because he had a little bit of extra money from a settlement he had made in a previous job where he had slipped and broken his arm.
So after living in Boulder for a while Chico decided to move back to Lafayette and when he left in 1977, he was the last person known to see William Burroughs Powell. Social Security records show him earning money at various restaurants around Denver from 1978 to 1983.
But after that, it just stops. William Powell just seems to vanish from the face of the earth, and to this day there is a 21 year gap between 1983 and 2004 that are completely missing from his life. Nobody stepped forward to say that they worked with him or helped him out or knew him in any way, and nobody knows where he went.
What name he may have gone by. How did he get around and oh yeah, who beat the hell out of him and why it took more than 10 years to find the real identity around Benjamin Kyle, but the mystery around Benjamin Kyle is far from solved.
So sometimes I run across an article that is so compelling and so interesting that I’m, like I just I just have to make a article out of this and that’s. Basically, what happened here so like 90 % of what’s in this article, came from an article in The New Republic by Matt wolf.
I want to give them credit for this, and I also want to point you guys there’s. Gon na be a link to it down in the description below it’s, a fascinating story. It’s, so well done there’s, so much in it that I couldn’t possibly put in this article.
So I recommend you go check that out. Matt actually was involved in this story for a few years hanging out with Benjamin and getting to you know interviewing people and exploring everything anyway. He was.
He was a intimate part of this whole story and this actually was written in 2016. So the last that I’m aware he actually moved back to Lafayette Indiana. He’s kind of putting his life back together. If there has been more that has happened and come forward about the time that he was missing, it might be out there somewhere, but I didn’t actually see it.
So if you know anything feel free to discuss that down in the comments below and there’s, also plenty of other stories, like I mentioned, of people in fugue states and weird things like this happening to people.
This one just seems to be by far the most extreme case of it that I’ve, seen out there, but if you’ve heard of some, you can talk about in the comments it’s, a fascinating subject. Also t-shirts available at the store answers the Jo comm, slash store.
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Doing that kind of thing definitely go check it out. I’ll, put a link down below anyway. Thank you guys for watching. I hope you enjoyed this article if you did maybe check out this one, because Google thinks you’ll, like that one or any of the other down on the side, and if you like them, please do subscribe.
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