Life Stories

DNA, determination help find man abducted as a baby in Chicago 55 years ago

CHICAGO — An update now to a WGN Investigates Exclusive — the case of a baby abducted 55 years ago from a Chicago hospital has been partially solved thanks to consumer DNA testing.

On Wednesday, WGN Investigates showed how we tracked down that kidnapping victim. Now, we have the story of the DNA specialist who helped confirm the link.

CeCe Moore, a genetic genealogist, helped solve the mystery. It began in 1964 when a woman dressed as a nurse took baby Paul Fronczak from his mother’s hospital room.

Two years later, a toddler was abandoned in New Jersey. There were similarities to baby Paul, police were skeptical, but the mom, Dora Fronczak, said, “It’s Paul, that’s my baby.”

The Fronczaks adopted and raised Paul in Chicago.The child grew up believing he was the Paul Fronczak taken from the hospital. He had a happy and healthy childhood, but there were always questions. He didn’t look like his parents. He also found newspaper clippings about the abduction.

Seven years ago, Paul, now an adult with a family of his own, took a DNA test along with his parents.

“[It said] there is no possibility you are the Fronczak baby. I’m like, ‘Wow,’” he said.

The man who grew up as Paul Fronczak found a new mission: He partnered with Moore to find that person abducted so long ago.

“My part in this was making sure we had the DNA in the databases, we needed to go fishing basically,” Moore said. “It was a matter of waiting.”

When WGN Investigates found the man who was kidnapped as a baby living in Michigan he asked that we not reveal his identity — WGN respected that decision because he is a victim of a crime.

The man learned nearly a year ago about the DNA identifying him as the real Paul Fronczak. He is now 55 years old and said the FBI had been in contact with him.

His health is fragile and he said he had some loose ends to tie up before speaking publicly. He asked for privacy until then.

“It’s a tragic situation. It is. It’s not as celebratory as you would hope,”  Moore said. “Fifty-five years have passed and he’s revealed to you. He’s ill. This must be a huge shock for someone to make a discovery like this. To find out they’re not who they thought they were. And to find out they’re part of a this very tragic story.”

Moore said she and the man who grew up as Paul Fronczak are trying to give the man in Michigan space.

At this point, it’s unclear whether there will be a reunion with his mother, who still lives in Chicago’s suburbs. She declined to speak with WGN.