AP was there: 1964 baby kidnapped from Chicago hospital

A 1964 courtesy photo shows baby Paul Fronczak, who was stolen from Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago.

CHICAGO (AP/WOOD) — The gut-wrenching story of an abduction 55 years ago from a Chicago hospital of 2-day-old Paul Joseph Fronczak is being relived this week.

News 8 reported earlier this week that an investigative reporter with our sister station WGN found the Paul Joseph Fronczak abducted in 1964 living under a different name in a small town in rural Michigan.

News 8 has confirmed that he does not live in West Michigan.

WGN Investigates reported that it followed several leads to find the 55-year-old man who does not wish to be identified publicly. He disclosed to WGN that he has cancer and said he has “loose ends to tie up.”

The story took numerous twists and turns over the years, including the discovery of a young boy found abandoned in New Jersey two years later. Dora and Chester Fronczak Jr. believed the boy was their missing son and adopted him, only to learn in 2013 that DNA testing determined he was not.

Two weeks after the abduction, the Fronczaks discussed the abduction and the hope that their son would be returned to them. The Associated Press is republishing its story on that interview at their apartment on May 8, 1964.

The grief-stricken parents of Paul Joseph Fronczak suggested hopefully Saturday — that the kidnapper of their two weeks old son — on the eve of Mother’s Day — could return the child undetected by leaving him in a church.

“It would be the most wonderful Mother’s Day gift I could ever hope for,” said Mrs. Dora Fronczak, 28, whose only child was taken from her arms in Michael Reese hospital 14 days ago when it was 37 hours old.

The kidnapper, a woman posing as a nurse, carried the child from the hospital, apparently entered a taxi cab and vanished. Police and FBI agents have combed the city for nearly two weeks without finding a trace of the kidnapper or the infant.

Rewards totaling $20,000 have been posted for information leading to recovery of the child.

At the Fronczak’s three-room apartment on the Southwest side, where a dresser is filled with clothing and toys for the missing infant, Mrs. Fronczak and her husband, Chester, 33, a machinist tearfully told of their hopes for the return of Paul Joseph.

“We thought the woman who took our baby might relent and give him back to us for Mother’s Day,” said Mrs. Fronczak, clinging tightly to her husband’s hand.

“With Mother’s Day coming, we’re hopeful she might leave the baby in a church — any church —a nd then telephone us the address,” the mother added. “That way, we could have our baby back and she could disappear.”

Both parents say they are certain their son is safe and will be returned to them.

“We’re not bitter, we’re not angry,” said Fronczak. “Our hearts are too full for feelings like that.”

More than 300 letters have come to the Fronczaks from all over the country, expressing sympathy and hope.

“They all say the writers are offering Masses and prayers for our child’s safe return,” Mrs. Fronczak said. “Everyone has so much faith that God will return the baby. With so many prayers, so much faith, I think that must help.”

The kidnapper took the baby during a feeding period after telling her a doctor wanted to examine the child.

The AP Corporate Archives contributed to this report.