A Day in the Life of a Forensic Genealogist!

Background (All names / places changed to protect the family group)

It was a case like many other cases.

  • Elderly man coming to the end of a long life
  • Has been known to have mental health issues for many years
  • Find his family as quickly as possible. Locating them now will also help in preparation to probate his estate.

Interview

Q: Robert what is your full name?
A: Robert Louis Stevenson
Q: Robert, who were your parents?
A: Mary and Joe and I had a brother John [No surnames were given. It was assumed their surname was the same as his.]
Q: Where were you born and when?
A: Gave date and place of birth
Q: Have you ever been married?
A: No
Q: Do you have any living family that you know of?
A: No

Database Research

The first database to check was Ancestry.com. I put in his name and his parent’s names. Nothing. Nothing at all? Nope, nothing. I went to FamilySearch.org and input the same names again. Nothing.

Truth Time
This man did not exist with the parent’s names he gave me. I was given copies of letters within his file and there was one with a full name and address. Back to the databases only to discover this person had died some months back.

What Now?

I knew that Robert Stevenson with a birth date and place given to me didn’t exist in the databases. The decision was made to recreate the family tree of the individual who wrote the letter that was placed in Robert’s file. After about 2 hours of work, I found our “Robert Stevenson”. Only his name is Eugene Smith. His parents were, in fact, Mary and Joe and he did have a brother John.

Family! We have lots of family!

Contact was then made with first cousins who were surprised to hear from me. Why? Because Eugene had called them in 1985 and told them he was dying of cancer and would be gone within the month. The following month after that call he went to court and changed his name. Eugene Smith was now dead in Eugene’s  mind and Robert Stevenson was alive and well.

Next, I had to convince the attorney in this case that the right person had been properly identified. The family agreed to scan and email some photos of Eugene / Robert. It was defiantly him! The attorney then went to visit Robert / Eugene and talk with him, about this discovery. With him, he took a family photo that had been scanned to me and an update from the family he had left behind. Let’s just say that there were some tears and one photo was hugged to a rumpled mess. He never realized they cared.

Do You Have Missing Heirs Needing Located?

Do you have missing heirs to an estate that need to be found but you have no idea where to look for them? I can help with that!
Go to the website and review the information on this page: Attorneys | Guardians | Fiduciaries Start Here

I welcome you to contact me to discuss your case.

Additional Reading

The Deceased Has No Heirs: How Did You Learn to Find Those People?