LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — April 25 is the birth date for the real Paul Fronczak. It is also the date when he died, in a different state and under a different name.
For 48 years, another man believed himself to be Paul Fronczak but learned the truth 10 years ago, which is when he asked us to help him find out. It’s a story of heartache and loss, but also courage and redemption.
Back in 2012, Henderson resident Paul Fronczak took a DNA test that cut the legs off of his life. He took a second test for us and confirmed the shocking truth. He wasn’t Paul Fronczak after all.
His daughter Emma is a major reason he started his quest.
We checked in with Paul Fronczak as April 25 approaches and found father and daughter together, dad showing off his chops on the bass guitar, and Emma adding the vocals.
The 10 years in between were tumultuous. The pressure of a media whirlwind cost him his marriage, though the Fronczaks remain close. The loving couple who raised him as their own stopped speaking to Paul for a few years, hurt by the news that he was not their biological son. That too has changed.
“Everything we’ve done, and all the different stories, I’ve gotten so many tips and we found Paul because of what we’ve done, and without that, my mom and dad would still be thinking I was their son, Fronczak told us.
The real Paul Fronczak was born April 25, 1964, in a Chicago hospital. A day later, a woman dressed as a nurse, stole the baby, grabbed a taxi, and vanished. It set off a massive nationwide manhunt, but police and the FBI never found the kidnapper or the baby.
Nearly two years later, an infant found abandoned on a sidewalk in New Jersey reminded lawmen of the kidnapping. The boy, given the name Scott McKinley, was handed over to the Fronczaks, who legally adopted him.
In a new book, “True Identity,” the man raised as Paul offers proof that the cops, FBI, and even the Fronczaks were aware he probably wasn’t the real Paul. At age 10, adopted Paul found a box of news clippings about the kidnapping of his namesake, and that planted the seeds of doubt that years later led to the fateful DNA test.
“It’s a hard thing to decide you’re going to change your whole life to find the truth on something that nobody wants you to find,” Fronczak said.
Tips and leads poured into the website we created. When a team of DNA detectives saw news coverage about the mystery, they joined the investigation. Hundreds of possible Pauls were ruled out, but obscure clues eventually led them to rural Michigan and a man named Kevin Baty.
In late 2020, the I-Team revealed that Baty was, beyond any doubt, the real Paul Fronczak. Nevada Paul had written to his namesake, explained that he had been living Paul’s life, but the quiet Michigan man wanted nothing to do with it and declined to speak. He had just received other shocking news — a diagnosis of terminal cancer.
The pandemic also made a reunion difficult.
Kevin Baty died in 2020, on the same date he’d been born at that Chicago hospital.
But before he passed, he connected by phone with Dora Fronczak, his birth mother. Paul and Emma eavesdropped on one of those calls and were elated for the long-suffering Dora. It was a magical moment, in more ways than one.
“I just wanted him and my mom to talk and, you know, just recognize that they’re both alive and both still here,” Fronczak said.
“You know at the end of that, my mom actually talked to him. She said, you know Paul, this is great, but you’re my son, I just wanted to cry, George. That was the most meaningful … that made this whole journey, all the peaks and valleys and crying, just made it all worthwhile,” Fronczak said.
However, major mysteries remain.
Nevada Paul learned that his birth name was Jack Rosenthal, and that he was born in New Jersey with a twin sister Jill, but Jill vanished and foul play is suspected.
The other mystery: Who was the kidnapper, and how did Baby Paul end up in Michigan as Kevin Baty?
The answer might involve the mob and a ring of baby-nappers.
We will keep you posted.