Mystery of infant found in Ohio phone booth in 1954 solved through DNA testing

The mystery surrounding a baby boy who was found in a telephone booth by bread delivery men in Ohio in January 1954 was solved 64 years later thanks to DNA testing, The Lancaster Eagle-Gazette reported. The man will be meeting his biological mother for the first time later this month, the newspaper reported.

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Steve Dennis, 64, of Phoenix, said his birth certificate listed his place of birth in a telephone booth outside Yielky’s Drive-In near Lancaster, the Eagle-Gazette reported.

According to the Jan. 16, 1954, edition of the Eagle-Gazette, bread delivery men found a boy “believed to be between four and five weeks old” wrapped in blanket and inside a cardboard box at 7:30 a.m., with a bottle beside the infant.

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Dennis said he first heard the story as a teen and never believed it. He does remember his adoptive parents, Stanley and Vivian Dennis, telling him he was adopted, the Eagle-Gazette reported.

"Luckily my parents told me early on that I was adopted, probably from the time I was three," he told the newspaper. "Most of that really had no impact on me. You hear it so much, it doesn’t faze you anymore.”

Dennis was adopted in February 1955 after being placed in a foster home. His family moved to Arizona when he was a child.

Dennis did not give his birth much thought until his daughters bought him an Ancestry.com DNA test, the Eagle-Gazette reported. He got his results back in January, along with a message from a man who said he was Dennis’ first cousin.

“He said 'I think I know who your mother is. We’ve heard throughout our lives that there’s a baby that we’re related to that was left in a telephone booth,'" Dennis told the Eagle-Gazette. "It was this like this hidden secret."

The newly found cousin connected Dennis to his half-sister, who lives in Baltimore. The woman said she had heard the phone booth story, too, and bought an Ancestry.com DNA to confirm the match.

“This deep dark secret of my biological mother, the kids had heard about this, but they weren’t sure if it’s true or not," Dennis told the Eagle-Gazette

The woman contacted Dennis’ biological mother, who is in her 80s and also lives in Baltimore.

“The mother has finally said she wants to meet with me," Dennis told the Eagle-Gazette. "Slowly week by week, she said 'I kind of remember.'”

Dennis said he was told his mother was 18 and forced to give up the infant by his father, the newspaper reported. He was born in a hospital in Kentucky and his parents were returning to Maryland through Ohio when the father took the baby and left him in a phone booth.

He has no other details about his biological father, the Eagle-Gazette reported. His mother married someone else and has two daughters, according to the newspaper. 

“It’s interesting. It’s not like earth-shattering or anything like that," said Dennis, who recently retired as a chiropractor. “My true parents, of course, were my adoptive parents. It would be almost impossible for me to think otherwise.”

Dennis said he is not sure what to expect if he meets his biological mother.

“I’d like to know my actual birthdate but, according to my sister, the mother said she doesn’t remember,” he told the Eagle-Gazette. “I’m not going to make a real big deal about of this. I’ll just take whatever she gives me and leave it at that. I mean you can’t hassle an 85-year-old woman … So whatever she feels comfortable saying to me, I’ll take. It’s more than I had before.”

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