Stolen at Birth: Who Is the Real Paul Fronczak?

"20/20" investigation seeks to discover a Nevada man's true identity.

ByABC News
October 31, 2013, 1:54 PM

Nov. 1, 2013— -- After being raised as Paul Fronczak, a 49-year-old Nevada man recently discovered that his entire identity, including his name, birth date and even who his biological parents are, was false.

After DNA testing revealed Paul Fronczak is not the baby stolen from a Chicago hospital nearly 50 years ago, Fronczak launched a mission to solve the two mysteries in his life: Who is he and what happened to the real Paul Fronczak.

"I feel kind of like an imposter because I am still using his birth certificate. Paul is out there," Fronczak told ABC News' Barbara Walters. "I have his birth certificate. ... I want to give it to him, and I want to find mine."

Stolen at Birth

The mysterious case of Paul Fronczak began at a Chicago hospital in 1964.

On Sunday, April 26, 1964, Dora Fronczak gave birth to a healthy 9-pound boy at Michael Reese Hospital. She and her husband, Chester Fronczak, named the baby Paul Joseph Fronczak.

The day after the baby's birth, a woman dressed like a nurse came into Dora Fronczak's room, looked at baby Paul and left without a word. Witnesses said the woman was seen elsewhere in the maternity ward several times that day and the day before. No one questioned her or raised any alarm.

At the time, Mary Trenchard Petrie was a 19-year-old student nurse working in the maternity ward, and was with Dora Fronczak the day after her delivery. Petrie said she saw the unknown woman in Fronczak's room.

"As I was leaving the room, a woman came into the room," Petrie told Walters. "The woman said to her, 'The doctor wants to see your baby,' and she said, 'Okay,' and handed the baby to her."

The woman in white was able to whisk baby Paul Fronczak out of the maternity ward, down several flights of stairs and out of the hospital. Petrie said 45 minutes passed before the baby was reported missing.

"Apparently she got in a cab and took off," she said.

For several hours, authorities frantically searched the hospital for the missing baby. At first, Dora Fronczak was not told that her baby was taken, but eventually, authorities came to the maternity ward to deliver the news.

"They told her, 'Mrs. Fronczak, your baby's been taken,'" Petrie recalled. "She cried a lot."

After learning that his son was stolen, Chester Fronczak appealed to the kidnapper through the press.

"I pray that she'll take care of the baby," Chester Fronczak told a reporter in 1964. "Return him."

Hundreds of Leads

During a massive investigation, Chicago police and the FBI distributed sketches and a description of the suspected kidnapper, who was described by witnesses as a woman around 35 to 45 years old, dressed in white like a nurse, but without the nurse's cap, and about 5-foot-4 with brown eyes and salt and pepper hair.

Police pursued hundreds of leads, including a woman who called to say she knew who took the baby.

"Bizarrely, she turns out to be the wife of an alleged drug kingpin who was apparently upset because her adopted child had been removed from her home by authorities," said Brad Garrett, ABC News contributor and former FBI profiler. "But she actually didn't know anything about the Fronczak case."