A Michigan man recently identified as the newborn boy snatched from his mother in 1964 by someone posing as a maternity-ward nurse was found through commercial ancestry websites after the man or a child of his submitted DNA to the sites to learn more about their family tree, a genetic genealogist who played a role in the discovery told The Associated Press Friday.
Recent media reports have said the now-55-year-old man living in rural Michigan was the 2-day-old child of Chester and Dora Fronczak abducted on April 27, 1964, from a Chicago hospital. Those reports have not provided details about how he was located — other than to say DNA was involved.
But genealogist CeCe Moore revealed in a phone interview that she and an adopted son of the Fronczaks, Paul Fronczak, submitted DNA from one of the kidnapped boy’s close relatives to the ancestry sites in 2014 in what she described as a genetic fishing expedition.
The DNA was submitted to Ancestry.com, 23andme.com, MyHeritage.com and FamilyTreeDNA.com, which, combined, have around 30 million DNA records, Moore said.
After Moore and Paul Fronczak submitted the DNA, all they could do was wait and hope for a long-shot occurrence: that the kidnapped boy-now adult or one of his own offspring would submit DNA to one the ancestry sites.
They finally got a notification last year through one of the sites that there was a match, Moore said. The notification included identifiers and ways to communicate with those who submitted the matched DNA.
Citing concerns about infringing on the privacy of the man and the Fronczak family, Moore declined to offer several key details, including the man’s name and where he lives in Michigan.
Dora Fronczak was 28 when her newborn son was abducted. She’s now in her 80s and still lives in the Chicago area.
“The most important thing is that he and his mother have a reunion,” Moore told the AP. “Our greatest wish is for that to happen.”
Moore couldn’t say why a reunion hasn’t yet happened.
Moore would not say who submitted the DNA that proved the Michigan man was the kidnapped boy. But she did say that the person wasn’t forced to submit the DNA through any legal or criminal proceedings. She said her understanding was that the motivation for sending in the DNA — as is the motivation for most people who use the DNA-service companies — was general curiosity about ancestry.
An FBI statement issued this week confirmed the investigation remains open and agents continue to pursue leads. But the statement stopped short of confirming the reports that the Michigan man was the child abducted five decades ago — first by Las Vegas television station KLAS and then by Chicago’s WGN-TV.
The stations also did not name the man or say where he lived in Michigan.
From her years looking into the case, Moore said she believes the boy was kidnapped by someone who intended to raise him or to sell him to someone who wanted to.
The kidnapper took the baby from the hospital where Dora Fronczak had given birth in April 1964.
In 1966, a boy was found abandoned in New Jersey, and law enforcement officials said at the time that he had ears shaped like those of the baby kidnapped in Chicago. The Fronczaks believed him to be their long-lost child. They officially adopted him and named him Paul Fronzcak, the name given to the newborn before his kidnapping.
Genetic tests that were not available in the 1960s revealed in 2013 that the boy found in New Jersey was not, in fact, the Franczaks’ son.