A Baby Is Stolen

Act 1: A nurse recalls the day baby Paul Joseph Fronczak was taken from his mother's arms in 1964.
7:22 | 11/01/13

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:

{{nextVideo.title}}

{{nextVideo.description}}

Skip to this video now

Now Playing:

{{currentVideo.title}}

More information on this video
Enhanced full screen
Explore related content
Comments
Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for A Baby Is Stolen
Tonight a most bizarre story, what would you do if everything you thought you knew about your life was a lie. And the real truth was more incredible than anything you could have imagined. Well, one man is telling that very story. About the suspicions, and the family secrets, that have haunted him for the last 50 years. So joining us now as we take you along on this thrilling mystery. Reporter: I want to show you sohotographs. Looking at old photos of paul frohn clack is a strange experience. The baby in his baby pictures is not him. How do you feel when you see this picture? I feel like I want to find him, and hug him, and make sure he's okay. Reporter: Paul has a wife, michelle, a daughter, emma, and a fish named blue. A perfectly ordinary life. The problem -- as he recently discovered -- it is not his life. This mystery, born of a terrible crime, was supposedly solved nearly 50 years ago. But today it is paradox so strange, even his name is not his own. Who is paul fronczak? That's what I hope we can find. Reporter: The story begins with a villain. An evil woman dressed in white. And a baby, stolen at birth half a lifetime ago, in 1964. Lyndon johnson was in the white house, leading a nation still reeling from the assassination of president kennedy. A young journalist named barbara something-or-other was breaking into television, and the original super nanny --"mary poppins," was coming to movie theaters. Reporter: In chicago, chester and dora fronczak, married two years, living in an apartment in his parents' home, were starting a family. A first pregnancy ended in still birth, but on sunday, april 26th, DORA GAVE BIRTH TO A Healthy nine pound boy. They named him paul joseph. He was a very cute, alive, sparkly baby. And she was thrilled. Reporter: Mary trenchard petrie was a 19-year-old student nurse at michael reese hospital in chicago. She was in the maternity ward with dora fronczak the day after her delivery. That whole thing is like a movie in my brain. I see myself in my uniform as a student nurse, I see the joy that was when they brought the baby to her the first time. How thrilled she was. Reporter: But soon the thrill, and the baby, would be gone. It was the last time dora fronczak would hold her son. Earlier that day, a woman dressed like a nurse, all in white, had come into her room. She looked at baby paul and left without a word. The woman had been seen elsewhere in the maternity ward several times that day and the day before. No one questioned her or raised any alarm. Former fbi agent and abc consultant, brad garrett has looked into this case for us. My sense is she was looking for what child she wanted to take. Reporter: That afternoon, the woman in white returned to dora fronzcak's room. And as I was leaving the room, a woman came into the room, this time, she did more than just look. Reporter: And did mrs. Fronczak give her, her baby? The woman said to her "um, the doctor wants to see your baby." And she said "oh, okay." And handed the baby to her. Reporter: The fake nurse was able to whisk paul fronczak out of the maternity ward, down several flights of stairs and out of the hospital. Apparently she got in a cab and took off. Reporter: Easy? Easy, very easy. Reporter: Just like that, paul fronczak, less than two days old, was stolen from his mother's arms and vanished. The baby was kidnapped? The baby was gone. Reporter: Mary trenchard says 45 minutes passed before the baby was missed. And they said "do you have the fronczak baby?" And I said no. And she said "well then, the baby's gone." I was like "gone where?" You know and, and she said, "you go back to mrs. Fronczak's room The baby's been taken." Reporter: There was a frantic search. Nurses turned the hospital upside down. But, astonishingly, for several hours no one told dora fronczak, the one person best able to describe the kidnapper, that her baby had been taken. Your heart must have been in your mouth. It was awful. Reporter: Finally, authorities came empty handed to the maternity ward to deliver their stunning news. And they told her "mrs. Fronczak, your baby's been taken." What would you like to tell the person who took the baby? Reporter: We uncovered rare archival news photos and film footage of the case. Here is chester fronczak, the day after learning that, while he was at work as an aircraft machinist handing out celebratory cigars, his boy had been stolen. Do you have an appeal to the kidnapper? I pray that she'll take care of the baby. Return him. I don't know what more to say. Reporter: A distraught dora fronczak, with chester kneeling by her side, made a public appeal for the kidnapper to return their son. Would you have any reason to think why she might have taken the baby? The only thing I can think of she must have been desperate for a baby that she would come and take someone else's baby away from them. Or she couldn't have her own. Or she lost hers or something. But even losing a child, I don't think you're that desperate to go and take another woman's baby. Reporter: If the kidnapper --seen in police sketches, heard the fronczak's plea, she was not moved by it. But others were. Fbi agents and police, many working on their day off, searched the city for the phony nurse and the kidnapped baby. They threw out a dragnet, pursuing hundreds of leads and tips from the public. So where do you go from here, lieutenant? We're still checking out all the leads we have, that we're receiving by telephone and other checks that we are making. Reporter: Authorities had another problem. If and when they found the baby, how would they positively identify him? There was no dna testing and blood testing was inexact. Particularly if you go back to 1964, '65, extremely challenging trying to match up -- is this the child -- the biological child of the fronczaks? Reporter: There was another identification method then in vogue -- the shape of an ear. Basically, it's the dimension size and the folds of the ear. Reporter: Authorities were about to get a chance to put the ear theory to the test. 14 months after the kidnapping, a child was found. A boy, apparently the right age, half way across the country. Was it possible? Might this be the face of paul fronczak? When we come back, the fronczaks

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"id":20762624,"title":"A Baby Is Stolen","duration":"7:22","description":"Act 1: A nurse recalls the day baby Paul Joseph Fronczak was taken from his mother's arms in 1964.","section":"2020","mediaType":"Default"}