“… for all you other searchers, lone wolves, and the lost sons and daughters out there. You arePaul Jack Fronczak.
not alone; we are each other’s family.”
If you haven’t heard of Paul Joseph Fronczak, you’re probably not a True Crime buff or an NPE. Paul, or Jack as he prefers to be called these days, has a story that resonates within the hearts of everyone searching for their true biological identity. Always the odd man out in his family, at the age of 10, he uncovered a secret that has continued to shape the rest of his life. That was when he found out that there was an infant taken from his own Mother’s arms in Chicago, IL, at one day old in 1964 and that a year later, another infant, Jack, was found on a street corner in Newark, NJ. And for the better part of his life, Jack believed that he was both of those boys.
DNA testing proved that Jack was not Paul Joseph Fronczak. And the intrepid DNA sleuthing of CeCe Moore and her team uncovered who he really is. But he almost missed the opportunity to work with CeCe; he didn’t see her first email. CeCe and her team used genetic genealogy – the science of interpreting a person’s DNA matches with a direct-to-consumer DNA test such as Ancestry or 23 & Me that uncovered that the man who grew up Paul Joseph Fronczak was actually Jack Rosenthal. One half of a set of twins that disappeared quietly and mysteriously from Atlantic City, NJ. Jack has a twin sister, Jill. But if Jack turned up in Newark, where did Jill end up?
Jack’s life has been one of constant searching; It was his not-so-innocent searching for Christmas presents in the crawl space that led to the discovery of the newspaper clippings that told the story of the abduction of Baby Fronczak and the discovery of Jack as the abandoned child, the child given the name and identity of Paul Joseph Fronczak that started his journey. But it didn’t end there. Jack’s perhaps unconscious need to identify where he fits in this wide world took him far from his suburban home as he chased his dreams. He will tell you he always loved dressing up and playing another character as if it was easier to be someone else than to be himself – but perhaps that was because somewhere deep down, he understood that he didn’t know who he was or where he came from. Afterall, his name changed several times before his third birthday – from Jack Rosenthal, to Scott McKinley – the name given to him by his foster parents, to Paul Joseph Fronczak. And then his personal narrative changed not once, but multiple times as he first learned the true story of Baby Fronczak and came to terms with that being his identity, and then having that ripped away from him in one single stroke with a DNA test. Suspended in limbo between one identity and the next while CeCe and her team worked to give him the name that was truly his.
After he found his true identity, the search turned outward to identify the “real” Paul Fronczak and the fate of his missing twin. He has faced multiple setbacks for every two steps forward in his searches. The lack of close DNA matches was resolved by identifing a second cousin. Who then died the day before he and Jack were to meet. Identifying his biological family, he was welcomed by some but met with nothing but avoidance and silence from those who could best answer his questions. He found the real Paul, but he also died shortly after. So many questions still unresolved, so much time and energy spent on the searching, it took its pound of flesh in destroying some of Jack’s closest relationships, leaving Jack to wonder, “is the search worth all the pain.”
By way of answering, I’ll tell you he kept searching. And when I asked what he would do when he finally found Jill, when that search was over when there were no more mysteries to chase? “There will always be more mysteries to solve. If not mine, someone else’s.” The psych major in me sat up and took notice.
Jack would encourage anyone searching for their biological family, “If you think something’s wrong, you can’t live a lie. Make the hard choice to start knocking on doors and asking questions.” He says he hears at least one time a day from people who email him that he inspired them. He also takes time to respond to every email he receives, especially those that offer tips – no matter how crazy. “They are taking the time to give me information; they mean well.”
Jack’s story appeals to those in our community because he represents ¾ of the clients DNAngels serves. He was a foster child, adopted by the Fronczaks, and an NPE. His sensational story is a case of truth being stranger than fiction, which is often the case for those of us who have had DNA surprises. His story is one of the hard questions and multiple rejections. But for Jack, he feels like he is no longer stuck in time. He has the truth, and he can now move forward.
So, what’s next? He’ll continue searching for Jill. Currently, they are testing two potential Jill candidates – women whose pasts are questionable, who are the right age, and who resemble the sketch. Several visits to psychics have given Jack hope that Jill is still alive. He has been told he would “know” if something happened to her. He feels she is still alive. He hasn’t really connected with either of the two women being tested. Perhaps because of a previous potential Jill he bonded with, and his disappointment when she wasn’t his twin was palpable. It’s easy to understand why he might hold himself at arm’s length while waiting for results. It’s perhaps the same reason he hides behind the search and his boyish charm. If he ever stops and lets down his guard, he will have to deal with the repercussions of being an NPE that the rest of us all work through. The pain, the anger, the desolation.
Remember, Jack; you’re not alone. We are all your family.