WHITTIER (CBSLA.com) — A fire destroyed a house on Janine Drive in Whittier in November 2014. The home is still red-tagged and boarded up. But it served as a clue to help solve a mystery in England.
On Nov. 7, 2015, an elderly man with an American accent was spotted in a bus station parking lot in the British city of Hereford.
He had no ID on him and was not able to tell police anything about himself because he had dementia, according to BBC Panorama.
Police placed him in a nursing home and plastered his photo all over the news, asking the public to help identify him.
“We’ve taken his fingerprints. We contacted all the police forces in the U.K.,” Sgt. Sarah Bennett of West Mercia Police told BBC Panorama. “We just need to find out more about him, where he’s from, who he is.”
The man was repeatedly asked his name. He replied once and said “Roger Curry,” according to investigative journalist Darragh MacIntyre. Police thought that might not have been his name and could have been someone from his past.
British investigators checked missing persons databases in the U.K. and abroad and contacted the Interpol plus Canadian and U.S. authorities to help identify the mystery man, but to no avail.
Months passed, police still had no idea who Roger Curry really was. But he was well taken care of at a nursing home, according to MacIntyre, who said he went there to see Curry.
BBC aired Curry’s story again asking the public to help find Curry’s true identity.
The story drew a huge response from viewers and inspired a small army of social media detectives, who offered clues.
On BBC’s Facebook page, a woman posted a 1958 yearbook picture of a student called Earl Roger Curry at Edmonds High School north of Seattle, Washington.
MacIntyre said he traveled there to talk to a woman named Helen, who looked after the web pages for the class of 1958. Helen and her husband, Jim, were in the same class.
The couple believed that young man in the yearbook picture was the same person as the mystery man in the British nursing home.
Over the next weeks, MacIntyre said he traced Earl Roger Curry to the burned house in Whittier.
According the British news network, authorities in Los Angeles County are trying to determine if Curry’s son, Kevin, flew his father to Britain and ditched him.
“He kept telling us that he couldn’t find a place to take him. It didn’t seem right to me,” said neighbor Jerry Maiques.
He said he called police once when he spotted the elder Curry wandering in the yard confused and dehydrated, and the son’s stories didn’t always add up.
No one answered the phone number CBS2’s Erica Mandy found for Kevin Curry, who has a criminal history.
The BBC reported he worked hard to avoid reporters for weeks.
“Did you dump your father in England Kevin? Take your mask off and speak properly,” a reporter asked him on camera as he was walking away.
The mystery may have been solved. But the answers left people around the world stunned and dismayed about how a son could have abandoned his ill father overseas.
According to reports, the elder Curry was flown back to California and is now in a care facility in the L.A. area.