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Monday, July 15, 2024

DNA may confirm amnesiac’s identity

UPDATED: A man who has lived in Oslo for four months with total memory loss was identified through Interpol Wednesday night as a Czech citizen. Oslo police, however, now want to confirm his identity through a DNA match to a Czech couple who claims he’s their son.

This man was found in a snowdrift in Oslo in mid-December. He does not know his identity, his origin, or why he is in Oslo. Police investigations haven't been successful in identifying 'John Smith', so now they're appealing to the public for leads. PHOTO: Politiet
Police have identified the man known as ‘John Smith’ as a Czech citizen. He was found in a snowdrift in Oslo in December, and appealed to the public for help on Tuesday after four months with total memory loss. PHOTO: Politiet

The man was found dazed and confused in a snowdrift in December. After police released a photo of him, they received a call from Czech police who said he’d been recognized by his parents.

Police told newspaper VG that Czech authorities have visited the man’s parents, who confirmed his identity. “I am very happy, but that doesn’t totally describe how it feels,” said the man, who has been going by the name John Smith. “It has been so bad. I’m going to go to this family, even if it should prove to be a mistake.”

Oslo police now seek to prevent any such mistake by comparing DNA tests of both him and the couple. “The goal is to obtain further formal verification of his identity, ” prosecutor Sturla Henriksbø stated in a press release Thursday morning.

Smith and the Oslo police went public with the case on Tuesday in the hopes someone might recognize him, locally or internationally. The so-called “mystery man” told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) he suspected he was Czech because that’s the language he understood best. He also understood Slovak, Polish and Russian. “But I think and dream in English,” he said. “I don’t know Norwegian, and I don’t know anyone here.” The man had no idea how he’d come to be in Oslo, and had no identification.

“I had feared that it would take a long time to find out who I am, but it took only two days,” said Smith. “That is totally fantastic.” The man, who is under treatment for memory loss, said he doesn’t know what’s going to happen. “There are still many lose threads and unanswered questions. I have hope I can find out who I am step by step.”

Lawyer Cathrine Grøndahl told VG that since her client has been identified, she hopes police can piece together what happened to him. “While he didn’t know who he was, the police could not find out what had happened,” she said. “They could not track his mobile phone or talk with people around him. But now they maybe can.”

Both Smith and Police suspect he has been the victim of a crime. Smith said he was paralyzed and couldn’t speak when he was found in the snowdrift, and had several types of drugs in his system. He also had cuts on his body, including his wrists. “The cuts were deep, and it took several months before the wounds healed,” he told NRK. “It was obvious that my hands had been bound fast together.” Woodgate



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