Stolen-at-birth: I-Team looks at new questions in notorious Paul Fronczak kidnap case

The ABC7 I-Team has new developments in that infamous case of the missing Chicago baby Paul Fronczak.
February 26, 2014 8:41:20 PM PST
The ABC7 I-Team has new developments in that infamous case of the missing Chicago baby Paul Fronczak.

It was 50 years ago at Michael Reese Hospital that the newborn was kidnapped from his mother's arms. Last week, the I-Team reported on a former suburban man who was asking whether he might be Fronczak.

Is Sam Miller, formerly of Wilmette, actually Paul Fronczak who was stolen at birth? What happened to the Baby Fronczak is one of Chicago's most bewildering mysteries.

Numerous coincidences prompted Mr. Miller to ask whether he is the long-missing Fronczak. A few days after we talked to Miller, the I-Team has decades-old paperwork that seems to answer some questions and raise new ones.

The mystery has persisted since a January day in 1964; the day baby Paul Fronczak was snatched from his mother here at Michael Reese Hospital. About the same time, this man was born in Chicago. But Sam Miller just found out this month that he was adopted under what relatives recall as usual circumstances.

"The way that this niece described it was that you simply showed up one day and you were there," said Miller.

When Miller compared his baby picture to Fronczak, he saw a chilling similarity. And side by side with an age-progressed picture of Fronczak, Miller says he had to find out if he was that person missing for a half century.

Tonight, the additional motivation for an answer: he says his life depends on it.

"I'm right on the cusp of renal disease and I need to find a kidney, I have two children and I'd like to know where I came from," said Miller.

This 1964 record found by the Cook County Clerk's Office has Miller born of a north side teenager, Sheila Kohn.

Miller isn't convinced, telling the I-Team: "In 1964 you didn't have to show I.D. for a birth certificate."

He was supposedly born at the old Walther Hospital. But a private eye for Miller hasn't been able to find the supposed birth mother Sheila Kohn.

The I-Team has also searched old newspaper clips, record locators, databases, social media and even government death files going back to 1965 for the name "Sheila Kohn" and we haven't found a person by that name.

If she actually existed, and if that person is still alive, she would not only solve the mystery of whether Sam Miller is actually Paul Fronczak, but she could be a kidney donor match or help Miller find another blood relative who would be.

"I think that I'm going to leave that up to God, I've made enough noise," said Miller.

For Sam Miller, this paper trail raises another mystery that leaves him wondering if he could indeed be Paul Fronczak. On one official State of Illinois document, the woman who raised Miller is listed as being born in Boston; another state record has that very same woman's birthplace as being South Africa.

Miller says he has spoken several times with this man, who grew up thinking he was Paul Fronczak, thinking he was stolen as a baby and reunited with his family only to find last year through DNA that it wasn't true.

"Mr. Fronczak has reached out to me via Reddit and my son, so I'm responding to him. If it's the case, it's the case and if not I hope my own birth mother and father might realize that a 49-year-old boy needs his family," said Miller.

The I-Team found out about Sam Miller after he contacted FBI and never heard back, sharply different than July 1965 when hundreds of FBI agents and Chicago police searched for the baby Fronczak. The FBI declined comment on Mr. Miller or the Fronczak case, saying that it is still open, 50 years after it began.


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