Finding his identity still work in progress for Henderson man

Paul Fronczak is not the man he thought he was.

That’s because six years ago, when he was just shy of 50, the Henderson resident found out his name was Jack Rosenthal and that he had been raised by a family that wasn’t his own after being mistaken for their kidnapped infant.

The strange tale of identity confusion doesn’t end there. Now he’s searching for the real Paul Fronczak, even as he continues to use his name, along with a long-missing twin sister he never knew he had.

The story dates to April 27, 1964, when a new mom handed her 1-day-old baby to a woman dressed as a nurse in a Chicago hospital. The woman walked out of the room and was never seen again.

“BABY STOLEN AT HOSPITAL” screamed the headline on the Chicago Tribune’s front page the next day. Baby Paul had gone missing, setting off a massive FBI investigation.

The search ground on for more than a year without developing any substantial leads until an abandoned baby was located in front of a department store in Newark, New Jersey, in July 1965. A foster family baptized him as Scott McKinley.

But the discovery drew the interest of an FBI agent, who decided the shape of the boy’s ear matched a photo taken of a day-old baby a year earlier at the hospital in Chicago.

In no time, FBI agents presented Baby McKinley to Chester and Dora Fronczak.

“All of a sudden, they’re saying, ‘This is your son,’ the FBI, who you look up to as an authority,” Fronczak explained recently. “And my mom said the world was watching, and she could either say, ‘No, that’s not my son. Put this kid back in the system. Who knows what’s going to happen to him?’ And then have regrets because it could’ve been Paul.”

So she agreed the baby was her son, and Fronczak grew up as, well, a Fronczak. When he found articles detailing the kidnapping in the crawl space of the family home when he was 10, his parents forbade him from mentioning it again.

To a 10-year-old, it was nothing more than a cool story, said Fronczak, now a college counselor who has lived in the Las Vegas Valley since 1995.

“I was happy, you know?” said the recently divorced and silver-haired 54-year-old. “But then as I started getting older, I started realizing, ‘I don’t think I’m the real Paul.’ ”

Taking the plunge

For decades, the question was merely a nagging thought in the back of his mind.

Then, in 2009, Fronczak became a father, and the curiosity became a strong desire to understand his own history — especially medical — for the benefit of his daughter, Emma, now 9.

“When my daughter was born and the doctor asked for my medical history, I spouted off like I always do,” Fronczak remembered. “And then I started thinking as the words were coming out, ‘Is this really my medical history? Am I doing an injustice to my daughter?’ ”

Three years later, Fronczak saw a $28 DNA testing kit while shopping at CVS. What had seemed so inaccessible before because of the high cost of DNA testing was now staring him in the face.

Fronczak kept the kit in his closet until his parents flew in from Chicago for a visit. In the last two hours of their weeklong trip, he found the courage to broach the subject.

“So I said, ‘Hey, mom, did you ever wonder if I was really your child?’ ” Fronczak remembered. His mom’s immediate response was, “Well, you’re my son.”

He gently pressed on: “What if you had a way to find out? Would you do it?”

The Fronczaks all agreed. Paul brought the testing kit to the table. They swabbed their cheeks and sealed the envelope — and their fate.

The drive to the airport took “four years,” Fronczak said. No one talked.

By the time his parents landed in Chicago, they’d had a change of heart and asked him not to mail the kit. They didn’t want to know. His father has since died, and his mother has denied all interview requests.

But Fronczak had already made up his mind. He kept the kit in a desk drawer for two weeks, but one day he pulled it out, walked across the street and shoved it into a mailbox.

“And I never looked back,” he said.

Search for Jack Rosenthal

The call came in October 2012, while Fronczak was at work. He sat, shocked and silent, as a man on the other end of the line told him, “There’s no remote possibility you’re Paul Fronczak,” he remembers. About a year later the FBI announced it had reopened the kidnapping case.

Since that moment, Fronczak has searched for the real Paul. He also worked with genetic genealogist CeCe Moore, founder of the DNA Detectives, to determine his true identity.

His case was “extremely difficult” to solve, Moore said of the two years it took to compare Fronczak’s DNA with other samples.

“We used every type of DNA testing, every DNA database available to us,” she said. “Traditional detective work, reading newspaper articles, searching newspaper archives. Every tool available to us, we used in this case.”

Through testing, Moore and a team of three researchers determined Fronczak had Ashkenazi Jewish, Italian and Eastern European roots. Eventually that led them to a woman who had married into the Rosenthal family, who told the DNA detectives about a set of twins who had vanished as infants.

Combing newspaper archives and other records, the detectives learned that the Rosenthal twins, Jack and Jill, disappeared as infants, though birth certificates confirmed their existence. Then they found two first cousins — one from from the mother of the twins’ side of the family and one from the dad’s side — who agreed to undergo DNA testing.

That was the final piece they needed.

Paul was Jack.

“He was dumbfounded,” Moore remembered from the phone conversation in which she revealed Fronczak’s true identity. “I think he thought I was punking him.”

Fronczak, who said he feels younger than his age, was surprised to find he was six months older than he thought he was. He also found out he shared a birthday with his adoptive mom.

‘I want to help people’

While Moore closed one case, she opened another: What happened to Jill?

Paul’s newly discovered family members provided a few clues, saying his real parents had separated for a time around the time of Jill’s disappearance and Jack’s abandonment. But both parents died in the 1990s of cancer without revealing what had happened to the twins, and relatives don’t remember much else, which has been frustrating, Fronczak said.

“I’m still trying to piece it all together,” he said.

Today, Fronczak spends his free time researching leads on where Jill might be, including digging up holes on the former site of the Rosenthal home in Atlantic City, where he believes he might find her remains.

So far on that lot, he has only found animal bones.

He also has spent considerable time looking for the real Paul.

“I don’t sleep a whole lot,” he joked. “I’m trying to maintain this full-time job now and do the best I can … but my heart really is in trying to find Paul.”

Between work, spending quality time with his daughter, riding his motorcycle, watching “The X-Files” and playing his bass guitar, Fronczak continues his search. He’s in talks with a production company to turn his story into a documentary series, and he is looking for a hypnotherapist who might be able to help him uncover memories from his childhood.

Fronczak’s ultimate goal is to hand over the real Paul’s birth certificate and connect him to his mother. He’s hopeful Paul is alive, but he is prepared for the worst.

With Moore’s help, Fronczak was able to connect with an older sister in Atlantic City and cousins in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Lenny Rocco, one of the cousins, said he felt an instant connection when he met Fronczak.

As it turns out, they have many interests in common, including playing the bass guitar.

“When you hear these things that are so far-fetched and off the wall, your mind doesn’t accept it,” said Rocco, a professional musician. “But as we got to know each other more and more, I saw little things that you just couldn’t deny.

“With him, I felt something very close there. I can’t explain it. I feel he’s a part of me.”

Through media appearances and after publishing a book last year titled “The Foundling,” written with co-author Alex Tresniowski, Fronczak has found a community of other “foundlings” looking for their biological loved ones. Moore also received a growing number of requests from adopted people in search of their pasts.

Fronczak said that has broadened his mission beyond his personal quest.

“I want to help people. I want people that aren’t really sure about who they are to get started on that journey,” he said. “We all deserve to know who we are.”

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Paul Fronczak’s age at kidnapping. He was 1 day old.

Contact Jessie Bekker at or 702-380-4563. Follow @jessiebekks on Twitter.

LVMPD Discusses Ross Dress for Less Shooting
LVMPD Assistant Sheriff Charles Hank discussed the 15th officer-involved shooting of the year at a press conference at Metro headquarters on Tuesday, Aug. 14. The active-shooter incident took place at the Ross Dress for Less store at the 4000 block Blue Diamond Road in the south Las Vegas Valley. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County School Board president Deanna Wright on travel expenses
Clark County School Board President Deanna Wright says she followed proper expense protocol in trip to Florida last year.
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Shooting leaves 1 dead in southeast valley
A man was found fatally shot in the doorway of a squatter apartment after an argument ended in gunfire on Sunday night. Officers responded about 10:30 p.m. to the Silver Pines apartments and discovered the man in a breezeway in one of the buildings. The wounded man died at the scene, despite the efforts of another person, who tried to administer medical aid. Witnesses saw a man and a woman flee the scene, but were unable to give police a clear description.
North Las Vegas unveils new school crosswalk
North Las Vegas councilman Isaac Barron talks about the new school crosswalk in front of CP Squires Elementary School Monday, August 6, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
LVMPD Briefing on OIS #13
Assistant Sheriff Tim Kelly held a press conference to discuss details of the 13th officer-involved-shoot for the department in 2018. Video shows the moments before the suspect was shot. The shooting, which has been edited out, occurred as the suspect lunged at an officer outside the apartment. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sedan and semitrailer collide in south Las Vegas
An early Wednesday morning crash has left one person in critical condition. A sedan and semitrailer collided around 4 a.m. at the corner of Spencer Street and Serene Avenue. Police do not believe impairment is a factor in the crash. Spencer has been blocked off north of Serene while police continue their investigation.
Cybersecurity Professionals Flock to Las Vegas for Black Hat
Black Hat USA, the largest annual cybersecurity conference, is expecting a record 17,000 attendees during its six-day run at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center this week. One thing attendees have in mind is making sure they don't get hacked while they're there. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Police chase ends with suspects captured in east Las Vegas
An early Tuesday morning chase ended with a car crash in an east Las Vegas neighborhood. Police were pursuing the vehicle, which they say was involved in robberies in Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, when the driver crashed at Owens and Statz Street. A man was taken into custody. A woman was ejected from a vehicle and taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The intersection at Mojave Road and Owens Avenue was shut down while police officers searched for the suspect and investigated. The intersection will remain closed for most of the morning.
Record number participate in Touro University Nevada White Coat Ceremony
Three hundred sixty-five medical students received their white coats during the Touro University Nevada White Coat Ceremony at the M Resort in Henderson Monday. The ceremony was developed to honor students in osteopathic medicine, physician assistant studies, nursing, occupational therapy and physical therapy as they accept the professional responsibilities inherent in their relationship with patients. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Stop for school buses, urges CCSD
Clark County School District Police Department hold a mock traffic stop at Centennial High School in Las Vegas, Monday, Aug. 6, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Work Begins at Las Vegas Community Healing Garden
Crews moved the wooden Remembrance Wall at the Las Vegas Community Healing Garden on South Casino Center Boulevard Monday. Construction on a permanent wall is set to begin within the week. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Man wounded outside Cottages apartment
Las Vegas police don't have a motive after a man was shot early Monday morning outside a northwest valley apartment. The man's mother called police to say her son had been shot. She called police around 1:15 a.m. Other people were inside the apartment but no one else was injured. Police are still looking for the shooter.
Ride new Interstate 11 segment in one minute
Interstate 11 opens to the public Thursday, providing sweeping views of Lake Mead, art deco-style bridges and a mural illustrating the construction of Hoover Dam. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Miss El Tiempo 2019
Miss Teen El Tiempo and Miss El Tiempo 2019 were crowned at Sam's Town Saturday, August 4, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Las Vegas Woman Raises Awareness for Anxiety and Depression
Cassi Davis was diagnosed with anxiety and depression after the birth of her second child. After seeking help and support, she felt that there wasn't enough for support for those living day in and day out for those with mood disorders. She created the Crush Run, set for Sept. 22, to raise money for the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and bring together a community of people who live with the same conditions she does. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
North Las Vegas marks the opening of Tropical Parkway connector
The City of North Las Vegas, Nevada Department of Transportation and other partners celebrated the opening of the Tropical Parkway connector to Interstate 15 and the Las Vegas Beltway. The stretch of road will make access easier for distribution centers for Amazon, Sephora and other companies moving into an 1,100-acre industrial area rising near the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bighorn sheep with West Temple in background at Zion National Park
A bighorn sheep walks through Zion National Park (National Park Service)
Adult Superstore location closes after 45 years
The Adult Superstore on Main Street has closed its doors for good after 45 years. The shop, which offered a multitude of adult toys, novelty items and movies, opened in 1973. Four other locations remain open. A note on the front door tells customers, “We can’t fully express our sorrow.” Adult Superstore was awarded Best of Las Vegas adult store by the Review-Journal in 2016 and 2017 .
Funeral held for Las Vegas corrections officer
Department of Public Safety Correctional Officer Kyle Eng died July 19 after a fight with an inmate at the Las Vegas Jail. A funeral was held for Eng at Canyon Ridge Christian Church Monday, July 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
What Back-To-School Shopping Is Like For a CCSD Parent and Teacher
Laura LeBowsky, a CCSD special education teacher and mother of two, set out to shop for her children's supply lists at her local Walmart and Target. She was looking for deals to try to keep the total under $150, while also allowing Chloe, 8, and Brady, 6, some choice in what they wanted. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Businesses struggle to fill food manufacturing jobs
Chelten House is a family-owned food manufacturing company from New Jersey. They created a facility in Vegas five years ago and have struggled to find experienced workers in the area. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
LeBron heckler crosses line, altercation erupts
NBA superstar LeBron James, his wife, Savannah, and daughter Zhuri were at Liberty High School to watch Bronny James in action Wednesday night. But an unruly fan wearing a Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls jersey heckled the newest Los Angeles Laker. The man screamed at event security with LeBron and his family about 150 feet away. The man had to be restrained, triggering a brief altercation with security. James and his family were escorted out a side door along with Bronny's team, the North Coast Blue Chips. Event officials canceled the game between the Blue Chips and Nike Meanstreets.
Las Vegas Oddities Shop in Downtown Las Vegas
Las Vegas Oddities shop owner Vanessa VanAlstyne describes what's for sale in one of the weirder and wackier stores in Downtown Las Vegas. The store opened less than a year ago and carries everything from human bones to "rogue" taxidermy to Victorian death photography. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trying to Staying Cool in the Las Vegas Heat
Cooling stations like Cambridge Recreation Center's opened across the Las Vegas Valley this week after the National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning for the area. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MountainView's nurses protest outside hospital
MountainView Hospital's nurses affiliated with the Nevada chapter of the national Nurses Organizing Committee picketed outside MountainView Hospital Tuesday to urge the hospital to address high turnover rates and understaffing. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Excessive Heat Slams Las Vegas This Week
The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning for Tuesday, July 24 through Thursday, July 26 in Las Vegas. People are reminded to limit outdoor activity, drink plenty of water and wear sunscreen. Visit for more heat safety tips. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Burning car in Las Vegas Spaghetti Bowl
Firefighters extinguish a burning car on the Martin Luther King offramp from northbound Interstate 15 in the Spaghetti Bowl in Las Vegas on July 23, 2018.
Fire Department Issues Warning About Water Safety
Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Buchanan made a public safety announcement about water safety after Clark County Fire responded to 27 calls that were classified as drowning incidents between May 1 and July 20. Clark County Fire, Las Vegas Fire & Rescue and North Las Vegas Fire responded to 55 total calls during the same time. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Star Trek fans on show’s enduring popularity
Star Trek fans at the Star Trek Convention 2018 talk about why they think the show has stayed popular across the years Thursday, August 2, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nonprofit provides clothing for homeless
Sydney Grover of Can You Spare A Story?, talks about how she founded the non-profit organization. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Family remembers deceased mother
Family members of Adriann Gallegos remember her. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Camp Broadway teaches kids how to sing and dance
The Smith Center's seventh annual Camp Broadway musical theater program gives 150 kids ages 6-17 an opportunity to learn musical theater skills from industry professionals over a five-day period. Marcus Villagran/ Las Vegas Review-Journal @brokejournalist
Restoring classic Corvettes to perfection
Members of the National Corvette Restorers Society Convention talk about what it takes to earn the NCRS Top Flight Award for a restored Corvette at South Point in Las Vegas on Tuesday July 17, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
'NO H8' Campaign comes to Las Vegas
Hundreds of locals participate in the NO H8 campaign founded by Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley as a response to Proposition 8, a California ban on same-sex marriage. The campaign has since evolved to represent equal treatment for all. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Star Wars and Golden Knights mashup at downtown art shop
Star Wars and Vegas Golden Knights fans attend the Boba Fett Golden Knight Paint Class at The Bubblegum Gallery in Las Vegas, Friday, June 29, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Clark County recount votes in commission’s District E primary
Clark County staff begin the recount requested by candidate Marco Hernandez in the democratic primary for the County Commission's District E seat on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Long-running local hip hop producer wants Vegas rappers to shine
Las Vegas Hip Hop producer and co-owner of Digital Insight Recording Studios Tiger Stylz reflects on 30 years of music production in the city. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
"Pawn Stars" fans visit Richard Harrison's memorial at Gold & Silver Pawn
"Pawn Stars" fans from around the world visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas following the passing of Richard "Old Man" Harrison on Monday, June 25, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Construction for new 51s ballpark underway
New home of the Las Vegas 51s is planned to be finished by March 2019 in Summerlin according to team president Don Logan. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like