April 26, 1964
Chicago resident Dora Fronczak, 28, gave birth to Paul Joseph Fronczak at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago.
This timeline revisits the period from April 1964, when infant Paul Joseph Fronczak was kidnapped from Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, to June 1966, when Dora and Chester Fronczak took possession of a boy they believed was the one stolen from them.
The kidnapping led not only to a massive FBI investigation, but it also made national news, complete with a steady stream of wire service stories and photographs of the worried parents. The case of the missing infant made additional headlines two years later after a boy found abandoned in New Jersey was turned over to the Fronczaks.
April 27, 1964
While Mrs. Fronczak was nursing her then 37-hour-old infant in a fourth floor maternity room at the hospital in the afternoon, a woman reportedly wearing a white dress, white stockings and shoes and posing as a nurse entered the room and told the mother the baby had to be returned to the nursery for examination, the Associated Press reported. Mrs. Fronczak handed the baby to the woman, but police and FBI agents determined that the woman fled the hospital by a rear stairway and then got into a taxicab driven by Lee Kelsey, AP reported.
April 27, 1964
Lee Kelsey reportedly told police that he let the woman out at 35th Street and Union Avenue about two miles from the hospital. The woman was described as roughly 40 years old, 5-feet, 4-inches tall and 140 pounds with a ruddy complexion, light-colored eyes and straight, brown hair tinged with gray.
May 5, 1964
The Associated Press reported that police expressed frustration that they had no solid clues in the case of the infant, despite interviews with current and former hospital employees, hospital visitors, cab drivers and residents in the vicinity where the mystery woman exited the cab. Five women picked up for questioning were cleared and a sixth remained in custody, though police doubted she was involved.
July 19, 1965
Investigators began conducting tests on Scott McKinley, Dora Fronczak and her husband, Chester. The tests included examinations of blood, hairlines and bone structure, but the only identification available of Paul Joseph Fronczak was a photograph taken shortly after his birth.
June 17, 1966
The Fronczaks appealed to the public for privacy. United Press International, reporting that the couple intended to adopt the child, also quoted family attorney Vernon Tittle as saying that the boy "was the only one of 10,000 investigated whom the FBI could not rule out as the Fronczak child."
Newspapers in Newark, N.J., added details to the mystery, reporting that the boy was left abandoned in a stroller at what was then the McCrory's department store on Broad Street in downtown Newark. Police, responding to an anonymous tip, found the boy wearing a blue suit and cap. The boy was subsequently placed in a foster home in Watchung, N.J., before the Fronczaks took him back to Chicago.
It could not be definitively established at the time that the boy was the one kidnapped from the Fronczaks. But regional director Edward Weaver of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services told the media that "neither has this fact been excluded since there is presently no known method of positively establishing the descendency of a two-year-old child."