Dozens of People Live as 'John Doe,' Not Knowing Who They Are


Dozens of People Live as John Doe, Not Knowing Who They Are

The hospital called him "BK unknown" since he was found behind a Burger King. He felt strongly that his first name was Benjaman, but could not remember his last name. When pressed by the hospital for a last name, he picked Kyle—the first name he could think of that started with a "k."

Fingerprints and searches in both national and international databases turned up no matches for Kyle. He has been fingerprinted more than five times by the FBI with no luck.

"A police officer in Georgia told me once that it means one of two things—either I've never committed a crime or I'm so good at it that I never got caught," he said with a laugh.

Despite maintaining a sense of humor, there is sadness and frustrations beneath the surface.

"I'm not in any of the databases that they can search," he said. "Basically, I don't exist. I'm a walking, talking person who is invisible to all the bureaucracy."

There are a few bits and pieces of his life that Kyle remembers.

He believes his birthday is Aug. 29, 1948, making him 64 years old. He remembers that date because it is exactly 10 years before Michael Jackson's birth date. He also thinks he was born in Indianapolis and recalls sitting in the library at the University of Colorado at some point.

Kyle has two scars on his elbow and no tattoos or piercings. He has been diagnosed with amnesia and does not know if whatever unknown events that led up to him ending up behind the Dumpster caused him to lose his memory.

John Wikstrom, 21, made a documentary about Kyle and found himself personally frustrated with how few resources there are for the living unidentified.

"People who are unidentified, there's nothing they can do. There's absolutely nothing," Wikstrom told "It's incredibly frustrating. It makes you want to appeal to the highest possible authority and figure out if someone can get him out of this mess. Someone has to be able to do something."

When making his film, Wikstrom was struck by how normal Kyle is, a typical functioning and productive member of society.

"He's witty and articulate. Talking to him, it's shocking and I think one of the more sobering facts when relating to him is because he's so relatable," he said. "He has a family somewhere, even if it's not an immediate family. This isn't just some strange, distant icicle of a man. This guy is fun, which is again, a very strange concept."

Wikstrom has posted the documentary, "Finding Benjaman," online and recently launched a website dedicated to discovering Kyle's true identity.

Following the documentary's release, Kyle was able to get a special Florida state identification card, but still doesn't have a birth certificate or Social Security number. He has been told that due to the presumption that he was given a Social Security number at some point, he cannot get another one.

After hearing his story, a Florida restaurant gave him a job in the kitchen and a landowner is allowing him to live in a shed on his property. The restaurant owner is paying Kyle out-of-pocket because without any information, he can't be on the official payroll.

Kyle believes he may have worked in a restaurant in the past because once he was in the kitchen, he discovered that he knew how to work the machines and fix a broken stove.

Kyle acknowledges the naysayers who may accuse him of faking his condition, but insists there would be no reason to do so.

"You'll find a lot of people who say it's all bogus, that I'm faking it for whatever reason, but one thing's for sure—I'm not getting rich out of it," Kyle said. "I'm 64. I'm trying to get on with my life as best as I can. I figure I've got 10 more years to live considering my social and economic bracket. I can't make any long terms plans other than try to get along mostly day to day."

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