Meet Benjaman Kyle, a 60-something man who can remember what he had for dinner last week but has no recollection of his parents or the high school from which he presumably graduated.
"It's like having something on the tip of your tongue. You know it is there, but you can't quite remember," Benjaman said in a telephone interview with AOL News.
"He was naked, he had bug bites from red ants, he appeared to have been beaten and he was taken to the hospital," Bill Kirkconnell, a special agent with the FBI's Savannah field office, told AOL News. "Ever since then, he has had no recollection of who he was."
Benjaman said he does not know how he got behind the Burger King or any of the events surrounding his alleged beating. His memories, he says, begin inside the emergency room of Savannah's St. Joseph's Hospital, where doctors discovered he was legally blind, with cataracts.
"I remember hearing the doctors or nurses making jokes about what they were going to call me because they already had a John Doe and they couldn't call me that," Benjaman explained. "So there was a joke about calling me Burger King Doe."
Benjaman says the nurses kept pestering him for a name, and that's when he came up with Benjaman Kyle.
"I just wanted them to leave me the hell alone," Benjaman said. "I remembered my first name as being Benjaman, with the spelling weird. For my last name, I picked the only thing I could think of, and that was Kyle. They didn't care if it was real or not; they just needed something to put on the paperwork."
Benjaman said he was ultimately transferred to five different hospitals and clinics for treatment, and eventually surgery was donated to correct his vision. When his stay at the hospital was over, he moved into a homeless shelter.
A Blank Slate
Benjaman said he has scant memories of certain places and feels as though he may have worked in construction or the restaurant industry.
"I believe I was born in Indianapolis," Benjaman said, adding that he knows his birth date. "Everyone thinks it is really weird, yet it seems so normal to me, [that I was born on] Aug. 29, 1948. The reason I can remember that is Michael Jackson was born 10 years after me, to the day, so it makes sense to me that I wouldn't forget that."
Benjaman said he also has some vivid memories of Colorado and believes he either visited there or lived there in the mid-1980s.
"I look at Google maps of Denver, and I recognize a lot of things," he said. "I recollect a lot of stuff, but the personal memories seem to be gone."
One innocuous memory Benjaman has is a visit to a theater in downtown Denver, where he watched the 1976 film "Car Wash," starring Richard Pryor and George Carlin.
"The movie sucked, but it was a beautiful movie theater," Benjaman said. "I definitely remember that the theater had been converted into a twin theater from the balcony. That sticks with me."
Searching for an Identity
Benjaman remained in homeless shelters until 2007, when he met a nurse named Katherine Slater. Ever since, Slater has been advocating for Benjaman and trying to help him get his identity back.
"[Katherine] started investigating it, and she knew [someone] who knew Congressman Jack Kingston, so we went out and met with his staff, and they actually started the investigation rolling and called the FBI," Benjaman said.
According to Kirkconnell, his office does not have an open file on Benjaman, but he is looking into the case as a favor to Kingston. Part of his investigation included getting dental records and fingerprints from Benjaman.
"We took his fingerprints and sent them off to our criminal justice information center, where they ran his prints against our automated and our non-automated files," Kirkconnell said. "That would be about 60 million criminal fingerprints and over 200 million civil fingerprints ... but he's simply not in our system."
Dental records have also been matched against the FBI databases without success, Kirkconnell said. His agency is now trying to search through archived NCIC entries.
"The first time the FBI [took my prints], I was worried about them making some mistake and saying I am an ax murderer or something," Benjaman joked, adding, "[but] I am sure I am not."
Dr. Colleen Fitzpatrick, a forensic genealogist from Identifinders International, got involved in Benjaman's case after he took a Y DNA test.
"I am pretty well known in the [genealogy] community," Fitzpatrick told AOL News. "People contacted me and said, 'Do you know this guy, and do you think you can help?' and I have been part of it ever since."
Fitzpatrick is known for her involvement in several high-profile cases and in the past has solved numerous mysteries, including the identity of the remains of an unknown child from the Titanic shipwreck.
"There are several online databases where you can get your genealogy DNA tested, set up an account and compare it to others," Fitzpatrick explained. "There are a couple hundred thousand people that have accounts on these sites."
Fitzpatrick used the DNA databases to connect Kyle to the surname Powell. Then, about three months ago, she also connected him to the surname Davidson.
"It was almost a perfect match to the name Davidson, so you have two names -- one that he matches very closely, Davidson. Then you have another one that he remotely matches, Powell," Fitzpatrick said. "I am still narrowing down who he is. Every day I feel like this is going to be the day. I know so much about this guy except for his name."
Fitzpatrick says the DNA matches don't necessarily mean his last name is Davidson or Powell, but that they are in his ancestry.
In August 2008, Benjaman met with Atlanta-based psychologist Dr. Jason A. King. A specialist in psychological and neuropsychological evaluations, King examined Benjaman and conducted nearly two-dozen neuropsychological tests on him. In the end, he concluded Benjaman has "dissociative amnesia," which is defined by the presence of retrograde amnesia. Basically, he has the inability to retrieve stored memories.
"There are three and only three possibilities for what can cause a person to make that ongoing set of claims," Dr. Park Dietz, president of Park Dietz & Associates, told AOL News.
"The first we know definitely exists, and it is organic retrograde amnesia, occurring because of some insult to the brain," Dietz said. "The second explanation is that they are lying, in which case they would be hesitant to let their photograph appear in the media. The third is controversial. Many people in psychology and psychiatry believe in a phenomenon called a fugue state, a dissociative reaction. That phenomenon is thought by those who believe in it to represent some kind of escape, to protect the mind from recognition of a terrible thing."
Dietz has never treated Benjaman but says, based on his reading of the case, he agrees with King's diagnosis.
"This is a very unusual case, but if he were a liar, he wouldn't be [speaking with the media]," Dietz said. "There is no saying whether his memory will eventually return. Whoever beat him robbed him of his entire past."
A subject of contention in the case is Benjaman's claim that police in Richmond Hill never bothered to investigate his alleged beating. "[They] never once contacted me. ... There was actually no investigative work done until 2007, except one time when the FBI came and took my fingerprints," Benjaman said.
Maj. Michael Albritton with the Richmond Hill Police Department disputes that claim.
"The first time I met Mr. Kyle was three months ago," Albritton told AOL News. "I have not seen any medical evidence to prove that he was beaten. According to the EMS report, there [were] no visible signs of trauma to [his] body. ... When he was transported to the hospital, it was basically a routine EMS call."
He added, "I know there's a lot of hype and hoopla about it, and I'm not doubting that he may have had some memory loss ... but I'm skeptical [about] the fact that he was beaten. What that does is make it sound like we let a man get beaten, and we've never investigated, and that's when I become somewhat defensive."
But the FBI says Benjaman was beaten, and they're not the only ones.
In 2008, Dr. Phil McGraw, host of the "Dr. Phil" television show, hired former FBI agent Harold Copus to investigate the case to determine whether Benjaman was telling the truth. Copus said he personally interviewed the paramedics that were called to the scene at Burger King.
"The paramedics said there was indication that someone had hit him in the head, and they found a cut to the head, an abrasion there," Copus, now head of Copus Security Consultants in Atlanta, told AOL News. "They said he was totally unconscious and in bad shape. He had obviously been hit in the head or fell and hit his head, but it is possible he was assaulted."
Albritton said he is not calling Benjaman a liar, but he questions some of the details of the case.
"What is the standard length of [time] a person [has] amnesia? I believe his is probably setting the record," Albritton said. "Does anyone know if he ever took a polygraph? I've got it from a very reliable source that when it came time to get him that some things fell through in the [Dr. Phil] show, and he never did take the polygraph."
Producers for the "Dr. Phil" show did not respond to an e-mail from AOL News regarding the alleged test; however, Copus says Benjaman "didn't fail one test he was given."
Albritton also claims Benjaman was hesitant to sign a release for his hospital records. Benjaman disputes the claim and says he signed not one but three releases.
When AOL News called Albritton back, he acknowledged having the forms but said he has been too busy to follow up on them.
"That police officer, unless he has seen the records, he probably shouldn't be making those kinds of statements," Copus said. "He certainly is not aware, apparently, that Dr. Phil hired top-rated psychologists and experts to investigate this case. And you know what? The major may be right, Benjaman may have a record for the longest case of amnesia, but that's a hell of a record to have. I wouldn't want it, and I'm sure the major wouldn't want it."
Copus said that after investigating all aspects of the case, including multiple interviews with Benjaman and other parties, he is 90 percent certain that Benjaman is telling the truth.
"I figure he was in between jobs,' Copus said. "He was probably hitchhiking and ran across some homeless guys who beat him up, took everything he had."
"It has been six years now, and I think all the easy stuff has been done, and I think the odds are increasingly against that they are going to find out anything about me," Benjaman said.
There are still some options, though. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is currently reviewing an X-ray of a screw found in Benjaman's left elbow, presumably from an injury he had before his memory loss. A forensic orthopedist was unable to find a serial number on it, but the bureau is still looking into it.
In addition, Dr. Fitzpatrick is following up on leads from the DNA tests, and a documentary film crew is currently raising money to take Benjaman to Indianapolis and Denver, to see whether visiting those places sparks any memories.
Meanwhile, Benjaman lives his life day to day with the help and support of others. He stays with Slater and does odd jobs for her in return for money, and a church donates food for him.
With no identity, he has no Social Security number, and, as a result, he cannot get a job or collect any benefits from the government. Rep. Kingston is trying to help Benjaman get a new card, but so far his efforts have fallen flat.
"They have talked and talked to [the] Social Security [office], and they are adamant that the presumption is that I already have a Social Security card, so they cannot give me another one. They have asked for medical reports, and we have given them all that. Still, nothing."
Benjaman said the problems with his memory, the people who doubt his claims and the lack of support from the government all bring about stress that he must cope with on a daily basis.
Along with his anger, however, there is also a realization that not everything is black and white.
"Maybe this in some way has made me a better person," Benjaman says. "Maybe I am a bit more empathetic. I don't think I am going to go nuts and end up in an insane asylum. But then I think a lot of people might think it would make a better story if I did."