Internet Users Search for John Doe's Identity

PHOTO: Benjaman Kyle suffers from retrograde amnesia and has not known his true identity since being found in 2004.

The Internet is banding together in search of the identity of a man who does not know who he is.

The man who goes by the name Benjaman Kyle is a working, productive member of society who struggles to get by as a "John Doe." He does not know his real name or almost anything about his background. He made up the name Benjaman Kyle just so he'd have a name.

He is one of the country's John and Jane Does whose lives are mysteries to society and to themselves. These seemingly invisible citizens don't know their names, where they're from or who their relatives are. They are blank slates.

They aren't eligible for health insurance, can't pay rent or get a driver's license. They can't get a job or apply for unemployment benefits.

Kyle has been struggling to live this way since he was found naked, unresponsive and covered with fire ant bites behind a Burger King dumpster in Richmond Hill, Ga., in August 2004.

When he awoke in a hospital, "I had no idea who I was. I couldn't remember," Kyle told "I had no idea how I got there."

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.

"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."

Now, with the help of a website, a documentary, Reddit and Twitter, people are rallying behind Kyle to solve the mystery of his identity or, at the very least, to attempt to help him get a new Social Security number.

"I've been working on this for almost two years now, and I truly believe within the next month, people all over the country will get him a new Social Security number," filmmaker John Wikstrom told in an email. "Their collective altruism, combined with the networking power of the Internet, is really something."

Wikstrom made a documentary about Kyle and found himself personally frustrated with how few resources there are for the living unidentified. He has since dedicated himself to helping Kyle find out who he is.

Wikstrom posted his documentary, "Finding Benjaman" online and has created a website dedicated to Kyle. He also started a petition on the White House's "We the People" website.

The "We the People" initiative creates the opportunity for people's causes to be addressed by the White House. The petition needs to garner 25,000 signatures in 30 days for the White House to consider it.

"What's really inspiring was how quickly people banded together to sign and spread the petition," Wikstrom said. "Within one day, we got 6,000 signatures, and the Vimeo [video] view count is almost up to 100,000. That really seems to be the narrative of what happened. Since the government hasn't been able to do anything, people are taking this into their own hands."

The "Grant Benjaman Kyle a New Social Security Number" petition has more than 7,500 signatures, but still needs more than 17,000 to be considered.

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 because of the presumption that he was given a Social Security number at some point, he cannot get another one.

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