happyworld - This Man Had Been Homeless For Three Decades, But Then A Cop Helped Him Find Out His True Identity

Image: Paul
This wasn’t Deputy Sheriff Jacob Swalwell’s first encounter with Michael Myers, and the law enforcement agent had had enough. The homeless man had repeatedly been warned about begging for cash, but yet again he was doing so in the same spot in Hayward, California. So, Swalwell squared up to Myers once more, and this time he meant business. But after the sheriff’s deputy asked a routine question, the panhandler gave a surprising answer – one that led both men on a quest to reveal the truth about Myers’ identity.
At first, though, Swalwell had come down hard on Myers. As the homeless man explained to San Francisco station KPIX in 2017, the official had told him in no uncertain terms, “You can’t be on this freeway anymore, and I’m going to write you a ticket.” There was something else that Myers had to do, too.
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In addition, Swallwell demanded that the other man present a form of identification to him – an order that was ultimately denied. You see, the wiry figure in front of the deputy claimed that he didn’t actually have any ID on him. And this puzzled Swalwell. “I immediately asked [of Myers], ‘Why don’t you have an ID?’” he recalled to KPIX in 2018.
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What’s more, Swalwell wondered why Myers didn’t just apply for social security instead of panhandling near the freeway. The man’s response, however, may have opened the eyes to the harsh reality of life for some under his jurisdiction. “I can’t get [social security] because I can’t even get an ID,” Myers replied.
And owing to this exchange, Swalwell launched his own investigation into the individual whom he had stopped on the street. That decision would ultimately take both he and Myers on an unexpected journey, in fact, and it would result in the kind of ending that wouldn’t be entirely out of place in a Hollywood movie.
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But who was Myers, and how had he come to be living rough on the streets? Where was his family, and why was it that he had no ID? Well, although his story may be unique, the circumstances in which he found himself provide a real insight into why many end up sleeping on the streets all over the U.S.
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It turned out, for one, that Myers’ life had been difficult from the start. He had been adopted at a young age, and his experience of the family that he had been brought into had been mixed. While his new mom had cared for and appreciated him, his adoptive siblings had practically turned their backs on their brother. The rest of the clan weren’t particularly receptive to Myers, either.
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Then, after the California native left high school, he began driving trucks for a living. But after his adoptive parents passed away and he lost any friends he had once had, he found himself alone and relying completely on himself. Life was about to become a lot harder for Myers, too.
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Image: THE COLLAB.
Ultimately, Myers ended up on the streets – as so many people do. Indeed, according to official data, January 2019 saw 8,022 people sleeping rough or utilizing shelters in Alameda County, CA. In neighboring San Francisco, meanwhile, the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing has reported that as of 2019 there are 8,011 homeless people in the city – a rise of around 17 percent in two years.
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But while Myers may have been in the same predicament, he bucked several preconceptions about the types of people who find themselves homeless. The former truck driver doesn’t have any problems with alcohol abuse, nor does he use narcotics or smoke. He has no prior criminal record, either, and is not mentally ill.
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And at 67 years of age, Myers is also a senior. As it stood, then, while he should have been enjoying his retirement, he was struggling to scrape together enough money to eat. The Californian had no one to share his days with, nor did he have a roof over his head.
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Image: Ben_Kerckx
But, as previously mentioned, Myers was not on the street because he was an addict; instead, it was all down to sheer bad luck. And it seemed that he was practically invisible to others, too. “Most of the people [around me] just hurry by and don’t even give me a glance,” Myers told KPIX in 2018.
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To help raise some cash, then, Myers had taken to panhandling and busking outside a subway station with his guitar. And, of course, in that time he had been noticed by local law enforcement officers – including Swalwell. “I had given [Myers] so many warnings,” the sheriff’s deputy explained to KPIX.
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Upon questioning Myers, though, Swalwell was stunned to discover that his lack of ID had left him in administrative limbo. And after learning that Myers was unable to receive any government assistance as a result, the official decided to intervene on the other man’s behalf.
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Speaking to KPIX in 2018, Myers remembered Swalwell saying, “‘Well, you’ve got somebody to help you now. I’m going to help you get your ID so you can get your social security and get off the street.’” At the time he offered to assist the homeless man, though, the sheriff’s deputy gravely underestimated just how difficult that task would be.
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You see, in order to qualify for an ID card in Alameda County, a citizen is required to provide two types of proof of residency in California as well as a birth certificate. Unfortunately, Myers had none of those items to hand – partly, of course, because he was of no fixed abode.
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To make matters worse, there was no longer any record of Myers ever having had a driver’s license – despite his previous career. And even Swalwell was initially left scratching his head at the conundrum. “How does a homeless person come up with two forms of residency?” the deputy pondered, according to KPIX.
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Thankfully, Swalwell was eventually able to come up with a plan that successfully enabled Myers to obtain what he was looking for. To that end, he asked both his employer, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, and his church to vouch that Myers was a resident of Alameda County. And thanks to that help, the homeless man was on the way to secure identification for the first time in years.
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However, as Swalwell continued, he also found something that Myers had never clapped eyes on before: his own birth certificate. And this was momentous not only because it could help the man finally acquire some ID. For Myers, you see, the information given on the document provided an answer that had eluded him for decades.
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Myers had known that he hadn’t grown up with his biological parents, although that in itself had been a revelation many years ago. “I didn’t even know I was adopted until I was 16,” he revealed while talking to KPIX in 2018. Still, getting access to his birth certificate for the very first time meant that Myers was finally able to piece some of the jigsaw pieces of his life together.
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The panhandler discovered, for example, that he had entered the world in Oakland’s Highland Hospital – right in the heart of Alameda County. As a consequence, then, Myers truly could call this part of the world home. And, of course, the document also mentioned his adoptive parents by name.
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Then Swalwell’s actions came to the attention of KPIX, which first covered the feel-good tale in 2017. And while talking to the station, the sheriff’s deputy opened up about his quest. “I started to get to know more about [Myers] and realized that he didn’t need a citation; he needed someone to help him,” Swalwell claimed.
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Myers added, “We both realized at the same time that there’s a real person there – and not just a stereotype we saw when we first met each other.” When KPIX aired its segment on Swalwell and Myers’ heartwarming tale, though, a viewer at home decided that he would step in, too.
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Yes, after becoming acquainted with Myers’ plight, private investigator Mark Askins chose to get involved. Luckily, Askins was involved with the organization Miracle Messages, which seeks to put homeless people back in touch with their nearest and dearest. And according to the P.I., a comment that Myers had given during the press coverage had stayed with him. “[Myers] kept saying, ‘I’m lonely. I don’t have anybody in my life,’” Askins later recalled to KPIX.
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So, after getting the go-ahead from Myers, Askins put his skills to the test by digging into the 67-year-old’s past. And, fortunately, the investigator had a little information to go on, too. Myers had shared, for instance, that his birth name had been Oakley; he also believed that his birth mother had been called Nicole.
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Consequently, Askins headed to the Alameda County Court House to pore through family records. And it was there that he began to unravel the mystery that was Myers’ background. During an interview with KPIX, Askins revealed some pertinent information regarding the homeless man’s lost relatives. “Here, we have a case involving Wiley Albert Oakley and a Marie Pauline Oakley,” he told the station, referring to a particular document.
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Then, after noting the relevant case numbers, Askins perused microfilm records and unearthed vital information about Marie Pauline Oakley – Myers’ birth mother. At only 16 years of age, Oakley had eloped with a sailor stationed at the nearby Naval Air Station Alameda. Tying the knot in Reno, the couple subsequently settled in the sailor’s home state of Tennessee.
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Then, some time after, Oakley returned home accompanied by a son – and pregnant once more. Her mother decided, too, that she would try to legally end Oakley’s marriage. The young woman’s mom angled for an annulment on the grounds that at the time of the elopement, Oakley had not been 18 – the age of consent in California.
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Yet even though Askins seemed to have struck gold with his discovery, he still needed to find Oakley herself. And given that Myers, her son, was a senior, it was very possible that Oakley may have already passed away. As luck would have it, though, Askins uncovered a phone number that looked as though it belonged to the right person: one Marie Pauline Oakley, who lived in Humboldt County.
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Happily, that woman was indeed Myers’ mother. And upon discovering that the child whom she had given up for adoption – the same baby she had been carrying upon her return to the Bay Area – had been looking for her, Oakley, known as Polly, had no doubts that she wanted to see him.
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First, a call was arranged between the two. And, appropriately, Myers’ end of the conversation took place at the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, where he was accompanied by Swalwell. Askins was present, too, when Myers finally reconnected with his mom after decades apart.
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“This is David Charles Oakley,” opened Myers, using his birth name. And the response was overwhelming. “My son!” Oakley exclaimed. It may have been a heart-warming moment for all listening in – but none more so than for the homeless man and his birth mother, who lived only 300 miles or so away.
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Then, during the rest of the call, the mom and son chatted, starting to fill in the gaps of the intervening decades. There may have been questions on Myers’ part, too. Why had Oakley put her child up for adoption all those years ago? And what had ultimately led to the decision that had changed Myers’ life?
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Ultimately, Oakley recalled the events of that time – ones that had begun when she had arrived in the Smoky Mountains as a young bride. Back then, her new husband was frequently absent, leaving her in the hands of her mother-in-law for weeks at a time. It turned, out, too, that the older woman had been manipulating and cruel, and she had had no qualms about keeping Oakley hungry and in extreme poverty. Finally, after having done everything she could to protect and feed herself and her first-born, the teenager plucked up enough courage to return to her mother in California.
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After Myers had been born and had grown to become a toddler, though, his mom received some devastating news: the little boy had a hole in his stomach. And, sadly, there was no way Oakley could raise the funds for the operation that her son so badly required. “My back was against the wall. I had to do what was best for him. I could have never afforded that surgery. I had no idea – if he didn’t get the surgery, would he die?” Oakley explained to KPIX in 2018.
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But Oakley’s own mom had an answer: adoption. As it happened, a family who attended her church were happy to take the boy in, and Oakley thus decided that the best option was to give her son up. Yet that isn’t the end of the story. Just a couple of weeks after that momentous phone call between Myers and Oakley, the homeless man was on a flight to finally reunite with his birth mother.
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Myers met his stepfather, too, as well as a whole host of other relatives that he hadn’t even known existed just a matter of weeks before. “He didn’t just get a mom! He had a whole family, and they all descended him at one time,” Oakley revealed while talking to KPIX.
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Touchingly, Oakley added of her son, “He’s suddenly discovered he has family when he thought he was alone in the world. I have one more person to love.” And Myers himself struggled to grasp the chain of events that had led him to this moment. “Who’d have thought that something like this could have happened to anybody – let alone me!” he exclaimed to KPIX.
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But, of course, Myers hadn’t reached this point alone; Swalwell and Askins had helped along the way. And Oakley was especially effusive in her praise for the law enforcement officer. “I want to see where your wings are, because you brought my son home to me,” the grateful mom told the deputy.
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After that, Myers started to get the support he needs as a disabled senior citizen, finally gaining health coverage. He put in an application to receive social security, too. And, best of all, he now has a family to call his own – thanks, of course, to the kindness of two strangers.

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