Benjaman Kyle Biography
Benjaman Kyl (full name: William Burgess Powell) “Benjaman Kyle” was the alias chosen by an American man who has severe dissociative amnesia after he was found without clothing or identification and with injuries next to a dumpster behind a fast food restaurant in Georgia in 2004. As a result of his lack of personal memories, between 2004 and 2015, neither he nor the authorities were sure of his real identity or background, despite searches that used widespread television show-based publicity and various other methods.
In late 2015, genetic detective work which had gone on for years finally led to the discovery of his real name, William Burgess Powell, although part of his missing years’ history still remains untraceable. He also no longer has to rely on jobs that pay under the table and can collect public assistance with the rediscovery of his Social Security number.
Benjaman Kyle Age
William Burgess Powell was born on August 29, 1948, in Lafayette, Indiana, U.S.
Benjaman Kyle Family
Man With Amnesia Finds His Family After Searching for 11 Year
A Florida man, who was found 11 years ago with no memory of his past, said he has finally found his family after years of searching.
Benjaman Kyle, of Jacksonville, Florida, was found naked, covered in fire ants and unresponsive in 2004 at a Burger King in Georgia. With no memory of his family or his identity, Kyle took on his current name as he searched for a link to his past.
“I had no idea who I was. I couldn’t remember,” Kyle told ABCNews.com in 2012. “I had no idea how I got there.”
Diagnosed with amnesia, Kyle spent years searching for his family. The search paid off when he announced this month he had finally found biological family members.
A team of people helped sequence Kyle’s DNA over the years and then look for potential matches.
“Many people had shared their DNA profiles so that they could be compared with mine,” Kyle wrote on his Facebook page. “Through a process of elimination, they determined my ancestral bloodline and who my relatives were. A DNA test taken by a close relative has confirmed that we are related.”
Kyle said he plans on visiting his family next week and is applying to get official identification cards with his actual name on them.
“I wish to thank all of my friends who have supported me over the years with a big thank you to the people who have helped me with this mess,” he said on Facebook.
Joshua Schrutt, a restaurant owner in Jacksonville who hired Kyle after hearing his story on the news, confirmed to ABC News that Kyle had found his family.
Kyle did not immediately respond to interview requests.
In an earlier interview with ABC News, Kyle said he did have some vague memories of his past. He said he believed his name was Benjamin and that his birthday was August 29, 1948. He also said he may have worked in a restaurant before because he remembered how the machines worked and how to fix a stove.
In his announcement that he found his family, Kyle did not confirm if any of his earlier memories were correct.
“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 in 2012. “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 trying to get along mostly day to day.”
Benjaman Kyle Incident and post-amnesia
On August 31, 2004, at 5:00 am, a Burger King employee in Richmond Hill, Georgia found William Burgess Powell unconscious, sun-burnt, and naked behind a dumpster of the restaurant. He had three depressions in his skull that appeared to have been caused by blunt force trauma and he also had red ant bites on his body. After discovering him, employees called the emergency services, and EMS took him to St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital in Savannah. He had no identity document and was recorded in hospital records as “Burger King Doe”. After the incident, no criminal investigation was opened by Richmond Hill police until a friend inquired with the department in 2007. There were no reports of stolen vehicles in the area and local restaurants and hotels did not encounter any individuals matching Kyle’s description. Two weeks later he was transferred to Memorial Health University Medical Center, where records state he was semiconscious.
After waking up, when he was asked for his name by hospital staff, he remembered that it was Benjaman, spelled with two ‘a’s, but could not recall his last name. He came up with the surname “Kyle” from his police and hospital placeholder name. He had woken up with cataracts in both eyes, which were not fixed until nine months later when a charity raised enough money to pay for an operation. Upon seeing himself in the mirror for the first time, Kyle realized he was around 20 years older than he thought he was.
William Burgess Powell believed he was passing through Richmond Hill, Georgia on either U.S. Route 17 or Interstate 95 in late August 2004. He may also have been on the road because of Hurricane Charley, which had hit earlier that month.
After being released from the hospital, Kyle spent several years between the Grace House men’s shelter and hospitals. In 2007 while at The J.C. Lewis Health Care Center, he met a nurse who first inquired about his past. The nurse helped support Kyle financially while he earned about $100 a month mostly doing yard work. While driving his truck in a yard, Kyle discovered that he still remembered how to drive a car. He was diagnosed with dissociative amnesia in 2007 by Jason A. King in Atlanta. King suggested that Kyle’s amnesia dates from August 31, 2004. Georgia Legal Services did not obtain medical records for Kyle because Memorial Health requested an $800 fee. A friend contacted Georgia Congressman Jack Kingston for help with the case. To help with Kyle’s identification, Kingston’s office sent DNA samples to the FBI’s National Criminal Justice Information Services Division in West Virginia.
In 2008, he was invited to appear on the Dr. Phil show. Memorial Health decided to provide select portions of Kyle’s medical records free of charge to the program.
In March 2011, he was approached by Florida State University’s College of Motion Picture Arts graduate student John Wikstrom. Kyle moved to Jacksonville, Florida, traveling on foot, in order to be filmed for the documentary. In 2011, with help from Florida State Representative Mike Weinstein, Kyle was able to obtain a legal, government-issued Florida Legacy ID. Kyle’s story appeared in a report on News4Jax, which caught the attention of a local business owner who subsequently employed Kyle as a dishwasher and paid him out of pocket. As of January 2015, he lived in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, in a 5-by-8-foot, air-conditioned shack provided by a good Samaritan.
For many years after his amnesia, Kyle was homeless and had been unable to obtain employment as he was unable to remember his full Social Security number. Several online petitions were created asking lawmakers to grant Kyle a new Social Security number. In 2012, an online petition was created on the We the People petitioning system on whitehouse.gov but got only two-thirds of the required signatures by its deadline on December 25 and failed. In February 2015, forensic genealogist Colleen Fitzpatrick reported that Kyle had cut off all contact with her when she reported that she was coming close to finding a DNA match. On September 16, 2015, Kyle announced that his real identity had been found, including his name and family members.
Benjaman Kyle Identification
On September 16, 2015, William Burgess Powell announced on his Facebook page that his identity had been established by a team of adoption search angels led by CeCe Moore.
“A little over two months ago I was informed by CeCe Moore that they had established my Identity using DNA. Many people have shared their DNA profiles so that they may be compared with mine. Through a process of elimination, they determined my ancestral bloodline and who my relatives were. A DNA test taken by a close relative has confirmed that we are related,” William Burgess Powell wrote.
The Orlando Sentinel reported on September 22 that William Burgess Powell had received his Florida identification card with the help of IDignity, an Orlando-based organization that helps the homeless and others obtain identification documents. IDignity also assisted in establishing Kyle’s identification.
On November 21, 2016, Kyle’s true identity was revealed to be William Burgess Powell.
Benjaman Kyle True Identity
William Burgess Powell appeared on the Dr. Phil show on the December 18, 2008, episode “Who am I”. Dr. Phil paid for William Burgess Powell to seek a professional hypnotist in an effort to help him recover lost memories. He has also appeared on local television networks across the country. William Burgess Powell says he has been met with skepticism about the case.
In March 2011, he was the subject of a student documentary from Florida State University’s College of Motion Picture Arts by filmmaker John Wikstrom. The film, entitled Finding Benjaman, was in part a description about his curious circumstances, and in part an appeal to action for local media groups and politicians. The film was invited to be shown at the Tribeca Film Festival and at the American Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival. Through the outreach involved with the film, Kent Justice of News4Jax (WJXT) ran a series on Kyle with the help of Florida Senator Mike Weinstein. Through Weinstein, and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, William Burgess Powell was able to obtain a Legacy Identification Card to supplement the identity card he received when he was in Georgia. No new leads were developed by the story, but he was able to find work and housing through the generosity of viewers.
The news of Kyle’s identification received widespread coverage, including stories by the Orlando Sentinel, ABC News, and New York’s Daily News.
Search for identity
There were a number of major efforts to identify William Burgess Powell (Kyle) by matching his fingerprints or DNA with that stored in various databases. These efforts included:
Fingerprint comparison to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database of offenders
Fingerprint comparison to databases of military personnel and government workers
A Y-DNA test through the Center for Human Identification at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth, Texas
A Y-DNA test for genetic genealogy through Family Tree DNA in Houston, Texas
Searches on Y-DNA online databases such as Ybase.org, Ysearch.org, usystrdatabase.org, smgf.org, and DNAAncestry.com
Searches on mtDNA online databases such as mitosearch.org, EMPOP.org, and smgf.org
Facial recognition comparison by the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles with individuals who have obtained an Indiana driver’s license since 1998
Research of the birth announcements published in Indianapolis newspapers around the time of William Burgess Powell’s remembered birthdate
Postings with missing person networks
In July 2009, a search was being made by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for Kyle’s Vietnam draft registration, based on his birthdate and his physical characteristics. When the draft lottery was first implemented on December 1, 1969, Kyle’s possible birth date of August 29, 1948, would have given him a priority number of 61.
Newspaper articles were published in the Boulder Daily Camera on July 5, 2009, and in the Denver Post on July 7, 2009. Based on Kyle’s memories of the University of Colorado Boulder campus, it was hoped that someone would respond to the articles to identify him. As of September 2010, this had not happened.
Kyle took several DNA tests that offer clues to his origins. A genetic genealogy DNA test by Family Tree DNA produced a distant match with members of the Powell DNA Study. Based on these results, in March 2010 an almost perfect DNA match was discovered in the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation database with a Davidson of Scottish ancestry, a grandson of Robert Holden Davidson (b. 1885, Logan, Utah, d. 1946, Chico, California). This Davidson’s results were very different from other Davidsons who have been tested by the Davidson/Davison/Davisson Research DNA Study Project. The fact that Kyle had several weak matches to Powells, with a single strong match to a Davidson, indicates a possible non-paternity event in the male line of his family—that is, an adoption, a name change, or illegitimacy. It was surmised that his legal name might be Davidson, but that in past generations, the family name was originally Powell. A comparison of the whereabouts of the Powell and Davidson families revealed that members of both families were living in proximity in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1900s.
Benjaman Kyle Documentary
A geographical comparison between Kyle’s Y-DNA results and the YHRD Y Users Group database showed a somewhat close match in southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma, but the U.S. coverage in this database is sparse and includes only Y-DNA haplotypes. A more comprehensive autosomal DNA test by 23andMe relating to mixed-gender family lines reveals a large number of matches with ancestry in the western Carolinas, eastern Tennessee, northern Alabama, and northern Georgia.
Colleen Fitzpatrick attempted to create a family tree for Kyle and based on DNA tests, cousins were identified from the Western Carolinas who collaborated with her to try to determine his identity. Fitzpatrick’s efforts were unsuccessful.
His appearance on a Reddit AMA in 2012 and again in 2013 attracted several possible leads, most of which were disproven. In one notable lead, two Redditors claimed to have seen Kyle working at a Waffle House in Kennesaw, Georgia. However, none of the users responded to personal messages when contacted, and searching through Waffle House corporate employment records finally suggested that the leads were false.
William Burgess Powell(Kyle) remembered that he was born 10 years before Michael Jackson and on the same day, giving him a possible birth date of August 29, 1948. Genetic testing suggested that he may have had the surname Powell or Davidson or have relatives with these names. Through hypnosis, he recalled a partial Social Security number 3X5-44-XXXX, consistent with numbers assigned in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana during the 1960s. Hypnosis suggested that Kyle had two or three brothers, whose names or faces he did not remember, but otherwise, he could not recall any other people from his life. William Burgess Powell had memories of Indianapolis as a child, including the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, the Woolworth’s on the Circle, and the Indiana Theater showing movies in Cinerama. He remembered Crown Hill Cemetery, although not its name, the Scottish Rite Cathedral, and the White River when “it was mostly just a dumping ground”.
He also remembered grilled cheese sandwiches for a quarter and glasses of milk for a nickel at the Indiana State Fair. Based on his reactions to the mention of nuns during hypnosis, he may have been raised Catholic and may have attended Catholic schools. Searching through Indianapolis area high school yearbook records came up empty, although records from that era are often incomplete.
More specific memories placed him in Indianapolis between at least 1954 and 1963. The earlier date is based on his recognition of the Fountain Square Theater, but not the Granada Theater in the Fountain Square area of town. The Granada closed in the mid-1950s. The later date is based on his recollections of a 2% retail sales tax that was enacted by the State of Indiana in 1963, and that the popular WLS Chicago radio station disc jockey Dick Biondi left the station that year over management issues.
Kyle also had memories of being in the Denver Metropolitan Area. He had detailed memories of the subscription the University of Colorado Boulder’s Norlin Library had to Restaurants & Institutions. He also remembered the Round the Corner Restaurant on The Hill, and the Flatirons and The Fox Theater near the Boulder campus. This placed Kyle in Colorado in the late 1970s to early 1980s. William Burgess Powell reported having memories of the controversy surrounding the construction of mass transit in Denver, at a time when the city still had no financing to proceed. Although the RTD Bus & Light Rail system in Denver went into operation in 1994, public debate over the construction of the system dates back to about 1980, consistent with the time period of the other memories that Kyle has about Denver and Boulder.
More specific memories of Boulder placed William Burgess Powell there between 1976 and 1983. The earlier date was based on his memory that he arrived during the construction of the Pearl Street Mall in the downtown area, and shortly after the Big Thompson Canyon flood that occurred on July 31 – August 1, 1976. The later date was based on the year that the King Soopers grocery store chain merged with Kroger.
William Burgess Powell had detailed knowledge of restaurant management and food preparation equipment, leading to the belief that he may have once worked in these industries.
He had nearly no memory of his life after the 1980s, including how he ended up in Georgia. One event he does remember is reading about the September 11 attacks. When asked by doctors to recall the Presidents of the United States, he was able to recall only those from the 20th century. Many of his memories he cannot describe in words and are at the tip of his tongue.
Benjaman Kyle New Republic
After he received the phone call from CeCe Moore, Powell spent the next few months working to restore his old identity. He sent away for his birth certificate and ordered a new Social Security card. He and Furman began talking on the phone. He found it weird, hearing his own voice coming over the line. His other brother, Robert, did not respond to his emails.
In October 2015, Powell, in the company of a documentary crew for a reality television series, flew to Lafayette to reunite with Furman for the first time since he fled to Boulder in 1976. Powell retains his aversion to being touched, but when he saw his brother, they hugged.
For several days, Powell went around meeting disbelieving cousins and collecting stories about himself. They called him “Bill,” which he was still getting used to. But he recognized none of them, and he took their recollections with a grain of salt.
“They’re telling me something filtered through 50 years of memories,” he said. “And God knows that changes. Anyway, I know who I was as a person. I don’t think that’s changed. I said all along that I wasn’t an ax murderer. And, so far, I’ve heard nothing to contradict that.”
A cousin, the family historian, gave Powell a copy of his family tree, and he discovered that he liked running his fingers over his lineage.
“It’s the idea of looking at all these names, knowing that I’m descended from all these people,” he explained. “I have a history now.”
Two months later, at the end of 2015, Powell decided to move back to Indiana. Furman, he feared, was becoming increasingly frail and couldn’t take care of the house alone. Powell packed all his possessions—his bike, his tools, 1,200 DVDs, and some cooking supplies salvaged from the restaurant—into a moving truck, paid for by the reality TV producers. He found a little two-bedroom house in a working-class neighborhood of Lafayette, a five-minute bike ride from his childhood home.
He spent the first two months in his new home huddled under an electrical blanket. The temperature was dipping into the single digits, and his house had no insulation. He was living off Social Security, and, fearing an exorbitant heating bill, kept the house at 55 degrees. He quickly caught a cold. Yet he found that he loved being on his own, dependent on no one. As the weeks passed, he made friends with the neighbors, fixing their appliances and feeding treats to their dogs. He told no one of his past. He saw Furman a few times a week, but he had yet to go inside his childhood home. Whatever had taken place there—whatever had caused him to flee home at age 16, to cut all ties with his family, to throw away his very name—remained too painful to confront.
Powell feared that more memories from before, from the life he cannot remember, would start returning once he’d settled down in Lafayette. “I’m worried about what the memories will be when they come back,” he told me.
“That they won’t all be good?” I asked.
“I’m sure they won’t all be good.”
Sometimes, Powell wondered whether it had been wise to return home. He found himself visited by new, unwanted emotions. Not emotions, precisely, but memories of them—things he’d felt as a child that, as an adult, he preferred not to describe. Such feelings, he thought, were better left buried in his brain. In these moments, the town seemed bad for him. He kept expecting things to be the way they were in his childhood. The city used to end at Route 52. Now the businesses were all out in the cornfields. He found the downtown disorienting. Years ago, the railroad had been rerouted, and many of the streets had been reset. He became lost easily. As he retraced the steps of his youth, the past and present flickered back and forth in his head, refusing to be reconciled. “It’s like my mind wants to see it one way, and my eyes see it another,” he said. “One minute, I’m seeing it like it is now, and then it’s like it was 40 years ago.”
Personal memories encoded during a fugue are generally never recovered. Powell may never remember his 20 years that have gone missing. Perhaps, like Ansel Bourne, he had adopted another name and lived out another life for two decades, one in which he was called Benjaman.
“I think it’s obvious that I did,” he said. “I don’t think I made it up out of thin air. It could be that I was going from job to job for a long time. Restaurant jobs are a dime a dozen, so I’m guessing I might have done that.”
If that was the case, why did he pick the name Benjaman? He thought for a minute.
“I read somewhere that it comes from Old Hebrew,” he said. “It means beloved son.”