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Friday, November 6, 2009

Nameless Prune Boy Found in Key West

         There are countless stories of people who have gone missing never to be found and those who have disappeared and later reappeared often under strange circumstances. I, like many writers probably do,  keep a file of strange and interesting newspaper stories that I have clipped over the years. Today I ran across this  mysterious story in my newsclipping file.  This story dates from the summer of 1972.

           It was June 4 in Key West, FL.  As evening approached on this typically Floridan warm day, a young man swam toward shore and walked onto the beach. This would not have been particularly unusual except for the fact that he look confused and his skin was so wrinkled that he looked like a prune.  He had apparently been in the water for a very long time.

          The young man began walking toward the roadway that flanked the beach, following the road until he came to a highway patrol station. When he entered the station the officers on duty were shocked by his shriveled appearance.  The distraught youth broke down and told the officers that he did not know who he was.  Having frequent encounters with drug addled youths reveling on vacation they at first thougth he might be under the influence of an intoxicant.  However, on further interrogation, the young man seemed essentially coherent other than not knowing his name, where he was  from, or even how old he was.

         He was a good looking kid who had a lean healthy build, a sandy mop of hair, and blue eyes.  The officers guessed that he was probably about nineteen years old and his accent sounded like he was from up north, probably in the midwest. The young man was wearing only cut-off jeans. He carried no identification and in his pockets he carried a compass, a pocketknife, and a can opener. He apparently hadn't done anything wrong and he seemed to be in good shape.

         Trying to get some more clues that might help them solve the mystery at hand, the officers questioned the young man further. He recalled only that he had been drifting out in the ocean for several hours.  Unsure of how he had gotten there, the only clear memory that he could recollect was clinging to some buoys.  Based on that  information the police surmised that these buoys were about four miles from shore.  The young man said after a while when it seemed that no one was going to come for him,  he began swimming toward the shore until he arrived at the beach.  That was all he could remember about his entire life.

           The officers took the young man to the Salvation Army where he could be fed and have a place to stay.  The Salvation Army staff found some clothes for him and a doctor checked him to make sure that he had not suffered any adverse effects from his ordeal.  He was given the name "John Doe", and after eating a meal, was given a bed where he quickly fell asleep.

           The next morning brought no new awareness to John Doe.  He still knew nothing, but was adapting well to his surroundings.  He was polite and intelligent and seemed to have good breeding.  Staff members at the Salvation Army took an immediate liking to John Doe and gave him odd jobs to do to keep him busy.  When he saw the old upright piano in the meeting hall he asked if he would be allowed to play and surprised the staff by playing in a reasonably good honky-tonk style.

         Hoping to unravel the mystery of John Doe's identity, a picture was taken and put in newspapers throughout the country with the story. The tactic paid off.  Richard Hazer of Dubuque, IA and Lisas Thomas of Hammond, IN both recognized the boy as the sixteen year old son of Mr. and Mrs. William Kadas of East Chicago, IN. The young man, now identified as Kim Kadas, had been in his amnesic state for ten days.

         Mr. and Mrs. Kadas immediately got the first flight they could and went to retrieve their son.  Upon seeing his parents he did not recognize them. But after looking through some family photos and talking to them his memory began flooding back. He still said he did not know what had happened to him. Later investigation found that he had actually left home April 11, but there was no indication from either him or his parents why he had left or where he had been.

           Time magazine reported that after the picture and story appeared in newspapers across the country that hundreds of harried mothers began calling to Key West hoping it was their runaway son who had been found.  Just think--if there were that many parents looking for runaways that match the description of Kim Kadas, how many other parents were looking for their kids of all descriptions?  Unfortunately, many of the tens of thousands of  persons who go missing each year are people who have run away. It's sad when we really start to notice and care and worry about loved ones when they've disappeared and it's too late.

           In ongoing update about the missing Mitrice Richardson , the young woman has still not been found after being gone for nearly two months.  A reward for solving the mystery has been upped to $15,000.  Activist groups, along with Mitrice's family and friends, are pushing for a federal investigation.

          Hope you have a great weekend.  Please come back to this blog often and sign up as a follower.


  1. I have a hard time keeping up with the news. It just breaks my heart to hear so much tragedy. I know that is no excuse to stay uninformed, I will have to do better.

  2. Dear Tamika,

    Of course remember this is old news -- guess you weren't even born yet when it happened. It's more like trivia history.

    My point from a writer's standpoint is that just clipping assorted articles for ideas to use later can be helpful. If I see an interesting name, place, or occurance I might clip and file for later reference or inspiration. Every once in a while I'll delve into my file --like I did for this blog post-- and just see what I can come up with.

    Maybe I'll do a post about this sometime.

    Thanks for commenting, Tamika

  3. I see your point, just reading what you wrote is such a gripping and interesting story. I use to do that, I bet I still have the file somewhere. Won't those stories be interesting. I bet they're twenty years old. You commented on my post that "It's interesting to see the different views of peoples idea of heaven", did you happen to click on the other names at the bottom of my post? Their posts are also interesting.


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