The Foundling – Resolving a Case of Unknown Identity through the Use of Genetic Genealogy

Monday September 14th, 2020 // 9:05 am - 9:55 am

In April 1964, a woman disguised as a nurse walked into a Chicago hospital room and took a one-day-old infant out of the the arms of a young mother named Dora Fronczak. That day, Chicago police kicked off the biggest manhunt in the city’s history in an effort to find the kidnapped “Baby Fronczak”.


Weeks passed without any sign of the kidnapper or the infant. Police interviewed several potential suspects, while investigators tested some 10,000 infants around the country to see if they might be Baby Paul. Meanwhile, Dora and Chester Fronczak held a long and lonely vigil, hoping against all odds that their child would be found. But two years after the kidnapping, the case went cold.


Then, in 1965, a young boy was found abandoned in a stroller in front of a department store in Newark, New Jersey. The police officer assigned to the case remembered a newspaper photo of Baby Fronczak and contacted Chicago authorities. The Fronczaks were brought to New Jersey to see if they could identify the abandoned boy as their son Paul. They did, and the boy was handed over and raised as Paul Fronczak.


Still, no tests were available to prove the boy was actually the same child. Nearly a half century later, the man who grew up as Paul decided to take a DNA test, to learn once and for all if he was the kidnapped child. The results proved he wasn’t—and left Paul without a clue to his own true identity. Despite the objections of the parents who raised him, Paul set out on a journey to learn who he was, a journey that brought him to genealogist CeCe Moore—and to an empty lot in Atlantic City —in search of the truth.


The biological parents of tens of thousands of adoptees have been identified through genetic genealogy methodologies created for this purpose. This very same methodology is applicable to resolving all types of human unknown identity cases: foundlings, victims of kidnapping, amnesiacs, false identities, etc.  These techniques were successfully applied to the widely publicized case of the man raised as Paul Fronczak, fifty years after the FBI erroneously identified him as the kidnapped Fronczak newborn. Through the use of commercial direct-to-consumer DNA testing combined with extensive genealogical research, “Paul Fronczak” was conclusively identified as Jack Rosenthal from Atlantic City, New Jersey.


This identification was made through comparing the family trees of the individuals in the commercial DNA databases who shared significant amounts of autosomal DNA with the subject, identifying multiple sets of common ancestors from among those trees and then triangulating the descendants of those common ancestor couples to find the intersection of those family trees. Identifications of descendants from these intersections were made through traditional genealogical documentary and forensic genealogy descendancy research.



Private: CeCe Moore

Chief Genetic Genealogist, Parabon

CeCe Moore, Chief Genetic Genealogist at Parabon, is the leading authority on investigative genetic genealogy (IGG), successfully collaborating with hundreds of law enforcement agencies across North America. Her small team boasts the unparalleled track record of 175 successful identifications of violent criminals and unidentified decedents, averaging one solved case per week. CeCe’s cutting edge work has led to the first conviction, the first conviction through jury verdict, and the first exoneration in cases where the suspect was identified through investigative genetic genealogy.

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Private: Paul Fronczak

Five years ago, Paul took a DNA test that disproved the story he'd been told about his identity—that he was "Baby Fronczak," the infant who'd been kidnapped from a Chicago hospital in an infamous 1964 crime. In an instant, he became a man without a name,  birthday or medical history—an "unidentified living person," in official terminology.