Reuniting Long-Lost Family Members

Read Sandy Banks' Initial Story, "Living Life Under A Freeway Overpass," And Her Follow-Up, "Lost For 12 Years, A Prodigal Father Is Found"

Columnist Sandy Banks wrote about a homeless man living beneath a freeway overpass for the Los Angeles Times. Ericka Dotson read the story, and immediately realized the man was her father. Banks and Dotson talk about the joy and challenges of reuniting families.

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NEAL CONAN, host:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

Families become separated for all kinds of reasons. A mother gives up her child for adoption, a disagreement becomes a years-long rift, a child runs away. Bridging those separations can seem to get more and more impossible as years go on, sometimes we lose hope. Earlier this year though an unlikely reunion in Los Angeles, when a newspaper columnist wrote a story about a homeless man living under a freeway overpass and Eddie Dotson's daughter recognized her father after 12 years. That young woman, Ericka Dotson joins us in a moment. Later in the program, a disappearance of a very different kind. The reporter for Wired Magazine who decided to try to vanish with a new name and a new look and challenge readers with a $5,000 bounty on his own head.

But first, if you've reunited with family after years apart, tell us your story. What have been your joys and your challenges? Our phone number, 800-989-8255. email us, talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation on our Web site. That's at npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

And we begin with Los Angeles Times columnist Sandy Banks. She wrote a piece last February that set the Dotson reunion in motion. She joins us from now the studios at that newspaper. Thanks very much for being with us today.

Ms. SANDY BANKS (Columnist, Los Angeles Times): Thank you for having me.

CONAN: Homelessness in Los Angeles, like most big cities, a persistent problem. What prompted you to write a story about this particular homeless man?

Ms. BANKS: Well, there's something special about Eddie. His shelter that he built on the freeway was unlike anything I had ever seen. It had a living room and a kitchen and artwork on the walls, on makeshift walls, tarp separating the rooms. It even had a bathroom that he had created with cardboard walls and a toilet that he had salvaged from somewhere. And he just had a sense of kind of dignity and peace about him that I hadn't seen in talking to other homeless people, which we do a lot of on skid row and all. He was a private person and a very dignified person and just very kind. And everybody in the neighborhood seemed to know him and treat him with respect. And I just thought, you know, I knew there was a story there.

CONAN: Indeed, there were golf clubs there, too.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: He liked to go play golf. And as you brought out his back story, he was a man who, well, it was there-but-for fortune story in many ways.

Ms. BANKS: Well, it was. And, you know, I never got all the answers and he was a kind of person that I felt I didn't feel comfortable probing because he was so private and so kind of dignified. But it was clear that there was something that had sent him leaving Texas and that he was still a family man and a part of society in his mind but that he'd, you know, lost that connection.

CONAN: What did Eddie tell you though about his family?

Ms. BANKS: He told me a lot about his children growing up. And he made clear that he felt he didn't leave until they didn't need him anymore. He had been divorced. He had a business that failed. He had had a hard time getting re-established. And he just hit the road. He hitchhiked out here and 20 years passed, you know, going back and forth. Last time he had been back had been 12 years ago, but 20 years passed with him on the streets.

CONAN: And you also point out it's - we should not romanticize homelessness. This was a man who coped very well on the street but who also told you that Lyndon Baines Johnson was among the many politicians who were out to get him.

Ms. BANKS: Yeah, it was clear that there were some elements of kind of paranoia, I guess, in how he viewed the world. But he was also clearly a man who had his head on straight. And what it said to me was, I mean, we're all a little bit crazy I think in some ways and that�

CONAN: You and me at least, yeah.

Ms. BANKS: You know, Eddie - Right. I mean, Eddie was kind of everyman and honestly he reminded me very much of my father who had grown up in the South and had died about Eddie's age. And, you know - and he was just such a profoundly decent man that it - whatever delusions or illusions he had seemed beside the point to me.

CONAN: Well, joining us now to help complete the story is Ericka Dotson, who is Eddie Dotson's daughter. She now lives in New York, where she is co-owner of a hair and beauty company, and is with us from our bureau in New York. Thanks very much for being with us today.

Ms. ERICKA DOTSON: Hello. Thanks for having me.

CONAN: And how did you come across Sandy Banks' story?

Ms. DOTSON: Well, I received a call from my godfather one evening, and he told me that there was this story out on my father in the LA Times. So, I dashed over to my computer and pulled it up on the Internet and there it was. And the first thing I wanted to find was the writer's name and I saw that it was Sandy Banks. And I looked for the telephone number, email address, anything I could find and I immediately emailed her to let her know that I am Eddie Dotson's daughter.

CONAN: Hmm. Sandy, like a lot of columnists, you put your email address at the bottom of your columns. I assume most of the time you get: why you idiot.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: This time it worked out pretty well.

Ms. BANKS: It did. And it was amazing because within moments of each other, Ericka had emailed and her brother, Trey(ph), had also emailed. And what struck me about their emails were that they were very brief and just kind of: please, I love my father. I want to find him. My father is a great man. That was the end of�

CONAN: Hmm.

Ms. BANKS: �her brother's was my father is a great man. And Ericka said, I've been looking for 12 years for my father. There was no sense of pity or how pathetic or, you know, isn't it a shame, my father is homeless. It was that this was a man that they loved and they wanted in their lives, and that really moved me.

CONAN: Ericka, why, after he'd been missing all those years, after he'd left your lives?

Ms. DOTSON: Well, growing up, my father showed us that he loved us truly. I don't know - I'm sure everyone feels this way, but you know the people who truly love you. And he showed that in every way and most times, he never had to actually say it, but it was his actions and the time that he spent with us. He really put a lot into me and my brother and he helped to make us who we are today.

CONAN: How did you make sense of his disappearance though?

Ms. DOTSON: Well, I basically felt as though - I never felt that he actually abandoned me. I felt as though it was something within himself that led him to Los Angeles or the West Coast and something that he needed to do. I did worry - start to worry about him though�

CONAN: Sure.

Ms. DOTSON: �you know, as time passed. I mean, there were times when I didn't know he was even alive - if he was even alive. And then as I saw my mother getting older, you know, I would think about my father and wonder, you know, how is he as far as health goes and all of that. So, I would go through a lot of different emotions and a lot of the times just, you know, things that were going on in my life, I wished that I could just call him and chat with him because, you know, we were very, very close growing up.

CONAN: And you and your brother arranged to head out to Los Angeles to have a reunion with your dad. And Sandy Banks, you were supposed to make sure that he was available for them.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BANKS: Yeah, I was. I felt like I had another child. I had to keep tabs on because it felt like such an awesome responsibility. You know, as a columnist, you write about a lot of things and you fancy that you're righting wrongs and pointing out injustice, but to have the opportunity to help bring a family together was beyond anything that I'd ever done. And it just felt like an awesome responsibility. And I wasn't sure, you know, that Eddie - I thought it was wonderful how respectful Ericka was and the children were not to press him and to come on his time. And I remember asking Eddie, you know, maybe we should get a hotel or something and where are they going to stay and he said, Ericka will stay where I live. She'll stay with me. And if that meant sleeping on a park bench or under a freeway overpass, that's where his daughter would be. And then when Ericka arrived, she had the same idea. She'd booked a hotel room, but she made it clear: Dad, I can drop my bags off and I'll stay with you. So, you know, it was - I had to keep kind of tabs on him�

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Ms. BANKS: �but it was - it became clear to me that Eddie wasn't going anywhere. He wanted to see his daughter as much as she wanted to see him.

CONAN: And what was that moment like, Ericka, when you saw your father for the first time in 12 years.

Ms. DOTSON: It was amazing. It was so overwhelming. I think I - I believe I regressed back to childhood probably, you know, when I saw him standing there. Before I got to L.A, I looked on Google Maps so I could what the area looked like. And so, you know, we were literally driving around the overpass, and I knew my bearings from what I saw on the Internet and when I saw that location, I said this is it right here. This is exactly where he is. And I looked over to the right, and there he was standing. Almost as if he had sort of dressed up just for me to come, you know? So I don't even think the car stopped when I opened up the car door and just ran out just to hold him and hug him.

CONAN: Had you thought out ahead of time what you wanted to say at first?

Ms. DOTSON: Well, no. I actually didn't. I knew that, again, you know, we have this understanding. Right now, it's a situation to where we pretty much just left - picked up where we left off. So, I just wanted it to be organic and natural, and that's exactly the way it, you know, the way that it went. So, it was amazing. It truly was. I'll never forget it.

CONAN: And things have gone better for your dad since that moment.

Ms. DOTSON: Yes. Actually, he's living the life that we call normal.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. DOTSON: You know, he's driving around. We made sure that he got his driver's license again and - so he could drive. And he's staying in a place that I had kept. You know, for some reason I did not want to get rid of my apartment in Austin, so - no one was staying there, so he's there now. And, you know, he keeps his pantry full of food and just everything we do. You know, he's living the normal life you would never know that he lived on the streets.

CONAN: What about the rest of your family?

Ms. DOTSON: The rest of my family, my brother - it's good because my brother is in Austin and his son. So my father gets to spend a lot more time with them. My daughter, you know, and I, we're on the East Coast, so the other family members, my aunt and his best friend who actually went out there with me to L.A., he's there in Austin. And everyone is just so happy to have him back.

CONAN: Yeah. Yet, are there challenges, too?

Ms. DOTSON: Well, there's challenges probably for him as far as being in this new world of technology that we live in. When I visited over the holidays for Thanksgiving, I was actually getting him up to speed on the Internet. And he's - it's just�

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. DOTSON: �you know, imagine, you know, stepping into the world, the Internet world and you've never - you don't know anything about it. So he couldn't believe it, you know? I'll just type in a name and it pops up and you can get so much research on that. He's a person that loves to do research, too, so I can't wait for him to really get a better understanding of it.

CONAN: And of course, he can Google himself too.

Ms. DOTSON: He can Google himself. We did that.

CONAN: We're talking about Ericka and Eddie Dotson, reunited their family after 12 years. We're also talking with Sandy Banks, the Los Angeles Times columnist who was instrumental in the reunion.

We want to hear your stories of reunion after many years, when we come back from a short break. 800-989-825. Email us: talk@npr.org. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

We have been listening to the story of a remarkable family reunion. Ericka Dotson and her father, Eddie Dotson, reunited after 12 years. The instrument was a column in the Los Angeles Times by Sandy Banks. They are both with us today.

And we want to hear your stories of reunion after many years as well: 800-989-8255. Email us: talk@npr.org.

We have this email from Cathlyn(ph) in Grand Rapids. Five years ago, my foster brother found us and returned to thank my parents for providing the brightest part of a troubled childhood. I had not seen since I was 6 years old. We are both 52 years old. It was as if our whole lives had waited for this reunion. The feelings were unexpected and almost overwhelming. We realized how deeply we had bonded at early ages. Both of us have changed since that meeting. Somehow, we've integrated qualities of each other. We're closer than we are to our natural born sibs. We're both grateful he sought out my parents and me. By the way, he has done very well. He's a CEO of high-tech companies.

And I wonder Ericka Dotson, you must have heard other families with other stories. Do you think there's a similarity?

Ms. DOTSON: I believe there is. You know, just, as I mentioned before, how you sort of pick up where you left off, because it's something, you know - the core of the family is just so important. And when you're - it's backed by - you know, my family, we try to live a very positive life. And, you know, always making sure - my parents always made sure that we were in a lot of activities, extracurricular activities. We were in a really good environment. They spent a lot of time with us.

And so I don't really have anything as far as, you know, abuse or some things that you hear along those lines. And so sometimes, you'll have things that happened that are bad within families. And then even the good, it just still kind of draws you in because you have that connection. So I can totally relate to that.

CONAN: Let's get a caller on the line. This is Mitch(ph). Mitch with us from Western South Carolina.

MITCH (Caller): Good morning. How are you?

CONAN: Very well. Thanks. It's the afternoon here. But go ahead.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MITCH: It is here too. I was trying to be nice.

CONAN: Okay.

MITCH: My story is that my mother left when I was 7. She took my sister with her. And I learned years later that my rage over my abandonment was misplaced. She left out of self-preservation and just couldn't get to me, as well. We reconnected about 21 years later, 22 years later. I tried once about 13 years after she left. I was 18. And her life had grown up. She had raised another family and had a job in law enforcement. And we really just didn't have time.

So she finally - 21 years later, visiting Hawaii where I was stationed -decided to look me up on her vacation. And that started our reconnection. And your girl there asked me to tell you the story about our reconnection. When she tracked me down, we agreed to go to dinner. And I got on my motorcycle. She followed me on a highway. And she describes this later as saying she reconnected, re-found me, and almost lost me at the same time.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MITCH: That was�

CONAN: Close-run thing, I take it.

MITCH: Well, there was a road rage incident that - between two drivers in front of me that I almost got in the middle of. And she watched it with her heart in her mouth the whole way.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Okay. Well, we're glad you both survived the incident on the roadway. I wonder, Mitch, there's a moment - you said your rage at feeling abandoned, was - you learned was misplaced. How do you deal with that?

MITCH: Well, first of all, for 20 years, I didn't think it was misplaced.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: No, of course not.

MITCH: And it was very real. I would see other family situations where there's a mother involved, and I knew - I just knew that that nurturing that I saw was missing in my life, and I felt very angry about it.

CONAN: Mm. Have you told your mother about that?

MITCH: Actually, we have. We have discussed it many, many times. And I've tried not to beat a dead horse because there's nothing she can do about it now. And to just repeat it to her is beating her over it over something she has no control over.

CONAN: And tried her best to avoid it at the time, but just couldn't do it.

MITCH: Right.

CONAN: Mitch, thanks very much. I hope things continue to work out well for you and your family.

MITCH: They seem to be doing well now.

CONAN: Good, good.

Sandy Banks, if one were writing a movie script or a book, you might end this story with that wonderful scene that Ericka described underneath the overpass where she and her father reconnected. Yet there are things that go on afterwards, and you have followed up with them.

Ms. BANKS: Yeah, I have. In fact, I kind of had to because when Ericka took her dad back, they went on the train because he didn't have a driver's license. And he had a little dog that he couldn't take on the train. So I wound up with King(ph), with his dog, for a few months. So I took the dog back and we kind of - Eddie and I are kind of co-parents of that dog, I think. But we do stay in touch. But - and he thinks that his family and his friends have embraced him so fully, it's been - I don't know how conventional that is when it comes to reunions, but one thing it said to me and as an onlooker - and I think I heard this in the email from the woman with the foster brother�

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Ms. BANKS: �is how validating it was to me as a mother to see how willingly Ericka and Trey took their father back without that kind of resentment or rage or any of that. And it was because, as Ericka said, he - they knew that he loved them, and he spent so much time teaching them that by - and teaching them to be good people.

And as a parent - I'm a single mother of three daughters, and I always wondered - my youngest is now 18 - and you think about how are they going to think of you when they grow up, and what will they take from you, and what about my feelings as a parent. But what it said to me was that kind of they see who you are by how you live and what you teach them and that that lasts. And it transcends a lot of shortcomings they might have. And so I take a lot of comfort from the story of Eddie and his children that as a mother, I'm okay.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BANKS: You know, that children see what's real. And just like this girl with the foster brother said, you know, that he came back and told the parents, what you did for me meant a lot. And I think that part of the reconnection, you know, it's really - that ripples through the rest of your life, even if you don't stay in touch after that meeting.

CONAN: Let's�

Ms. BANKS: They've given me something that even though I've never lost anybody and had to reconnect, they've given me something from their reunion that's going to last for me.

CONAN: I wanted to read you this email we got from Marcie(ph) in Oakland. Having myself worked as a newspaper reporter, I know how Sandy Banks must feel about what happened, like if she died tomorrow, she'd feel like she'd done some good in the world. It warms the cockles of my heart and proves that writing does matter.

Well, let's get some more callers on the line.

Ms. BANKS: Thank you.

CONAN: Brian(ph) is on the line from Milwaukee,

BRIAN (Caller): Hi, Neal. Hi, Sandy.

Ms. BANKS: Hi.

BRIAN: Hi, Ericka.

Ms. DOTSON: Hi.

BRIAN: I'm a father found.

Ms. DOTSON: Wow.

Ms. BANKS: Wonderful.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRIAN: My story is relatively - I'll try to be simple, however, of course, it's full of wonderful details. When my daughter's mother and I were - she were 15, I, 16, we gave birth. And we weren't ready to parent. So we decide - we chose to place her for adoption. We didn't give her up. We made a very conscientious choice to place her for adoption.

Over the years, we grew together even closer. We were married, had two children of our own. In 1993, decided to look for our daughter. So we placed an ad in a free newspaper between the washing machines, sewing machines, garage sales -happy birthday to our birth daughter, want to talk, and phone number. Next thing you know, we get a call from her father. Her father who never reads the paper just happened to pick up and see that ad.

CONAN: Oh, kismet, yeah.

BRIAN: Next thing we know, we're exchanging information on the phone. And we sent everything to them. And within the month, we scheduled a meeting. And oh, by the way, Stephers(ph), if you're listening, hello. We met a month later and it was amazing. It was amazing to see her and identify immediately who she is. And the connection were immediate. And fortunately, with her amazing, amazing parents' support, ours was a relatively healthy reunion. Over the following year or two, we got to know each other very much better. And it created a dynamic that was relatively difficult.

CONAN: In what way?

BRIAN: It created difficulty because she was 17 going through her teen years.

CONAN: Sure. Difficult times, yeah.

BRIAN: And we were just beginning our life with our then very young children, three and five years old. And mother was experiencing difficulty as it were�

CONAN: Yeah.

BRIAN: And next thing we know, it created a rift that were add to other issues, and that�

CONAN: As if she had been your daughter all along and 17, you wouldn't have any issues with her anyway.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRIAN: Yeah. Well, I think part of it is that, you know, we wanted to be a part of her life again�

CONAN: Yes.

BRIAN: And, you know, take some responsibility and it wasn't ours. But nonetheless, it wasn't as if we had to. It was a confusing time.

CONAN: I bet. And it's not - but a better time, I suspect. Anyway, Brian, thank you very much for the phone call. We appreciate it.

BRIAN: Thank you.

CONAN: Bye-bye. Let's see if we can go next to - this is Susan(ph). Susan calling from Anchorage.

SUSAN (Caller): Hi. Well, I just participated in a pretty amazing reunion. My family was contacted within the last year by a family that said they thought that my father had a brother. And it turns out he did. My dad's 88, his brother is 93. And they have the same father. And they never knew each other existed.

CONAN: And how did - how did they find�

SUSAN: And I - well, what happened is he told his - I'm not sure if his children or grandchildren, oh, by the way, you know, that isn't - you don't really have my real name but when I was 10, I took my stepfather's name.

CONAN: I see.

SUSAN: And he told them the real name, and of course kids, you know, they Googled it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SUSAN: And they found our family. And my grandfather's name is quite unusual. And so I think the initial call was to my brother and then he went to pass all the information on. And I met my Uncle Bob a few weeks ago and the amazing thing is he's 93, my dad's 88, they're both relatively healthy. They're both retired ministers. They were both Eagle Scouts. They've both been married more than 60 years. And sadly, Bob was raised with - his mother was an only child, he was an only child. He never had any aunts, uncles, cousins.

And when I walked through the door, he hugged me and said, this was the first time he hugged a relative other than, like, his mother. And he has children and grandchildren and all these cousins and people I'm hoping to meet.

CONAN: Well, I guess those genes just count for nothing.

SUSAN: Right. And he'd never seen a father of - a picture of his father, never. And so that first night, his birthday, I sent along a bunch of pictures of his family and information about his father and a lot of�

CONAN: It's got to be an amazing thing for those two men to reconnect after all these years.

SUSAN: Yeah. Well, we hope, you know, they have different - they have different mothers. So they, you know, didn't know they existed and we're hoping that we can arrange a reunion, that they're so much alike. And interesting, the women are so much alike.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

SUSAN: And they're both very optimistic, positive, wonderful people.

CONAN: Thanks very much for the call, Susan, and good luck with the reunion when they finally do get together.

SUSAN: Thank you.

CONAN: Bye-bye. We're talking about reunions of long-lost relatives. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

And let me reintroduce our guests. Sandy Banks, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, who is with us from a studio at that newspaper. She was instrumental in arranging the reunion of Ericka Dotson with her father, Eddie, who was profiled in the Los Angeles Times, a man who lived under a freeway and a man who had, yes, a cardboard house but one with flowers and golf clubs and two bedrooms and a bathroom. And I wonder, Ericka, does your father ever miss that life at all?

Ms. BANKS: No. I actually asked him that. And he said, not at all. Well, first I put it just, do you miss L.A.?

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Ms. BANKS: He said, no, not at all, you know?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BANKS: Austin is a very, very beautiful city. And so it's hard not to - you know, it's easy to adjust, let's put it that way. And it's changed so much since he left. And so he's almost, you know, he's rediscovering pretty much a new city, a new life. It's very exciting. All of this is so exciting for us because, you know, it's like you're bringing a baby into the world, you know. I think it's this technology thing. That's really what it is, you know.

But he doesn't, you know, I even asked him about the place. I was like, I showed him a picture of it that I'd took before, you know, when we were there in L.A. and I said, here, here's your place, Dad. Check it out. And he just looked at it, he's like, hmm.

CONAN: Hmm.

Ms. BANKS: He's like, this is much nicer.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: And let me ask you, Sandy Banks, does L.A. miss Eddie Dotson?

Ms. BANKS: L.A. probably does. I got - I was amazed by the number of emails I got from people who remembered him, who had met him, who were struck by him. His freeway underpass home was right near USC. So a lot of the professors and the students and the people that worked on campus went past him. And they would offer him things. Sometimes, you know, he would usually demur, you know, I have what I need, thank you.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Ms. BANKS: But people do miss him. And you know what, what I think, I like the idea that you talked about of kismet, like the guy who never reads the newspaper and then picks it up and there's somebody looking for his daughter. And with me, I was on my way to another assignment. I was heading to USC when I rounded the corner and saw Eddie's little house out of the corner of my eye, and only wrote about it because the bus driver told me, I think that's a foreclosed family that got kicked out of their house and they had to set up housekeeping here.

So I was looking for a whole �nother story when I stumbled over him. And I do think there's kind of an element of serendipity or this is how it's supposed to happen that kind of makes these reunions feel, you know, that this is almost ordained, that this is the way it's supposed to be, and allows you to kind of just go with the flow and enjoy whatever comes without a lot of expectations. And I think that L.A. kind of - the story got a lot of response of people who felt good about their city and good about humanity after reading, and validated, because Eddie was such a decent guy.

And you don't always think you're going to find that on somebody on the streets - and I don't want to be naive and, you know, people warned me, well, watch it, you know, he could freak out any minute. But there is just - it kind of validated people's belief in the goodness of people, that people are more than their circumstances.

CONAN: We want to end with this email we got from Julia(ph) in Denver. My father disappeared about four years ago. It was the most difficult period of my life. However, when we found him, he had passed away. Your show makes me pleased that others have found lost family members, even though I did not become reunited with him. Ericka Dotson, thanks very much for your time today and we appreciate your sharing your story of your rediscovery of your father with us.

Ms. DOTSON: Thank you so much. And I really wanted to thank Sandy Banks. She's our angel, basically. She is definitely our angel.

Ms. BANKS: Thank you. I feel like part of their family now.

Ms. DOTSON: She's family.

CONAN: Ericka Dotson lives in New York and she joined us today from our bureau there. And Sandy Banks, the angel, is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times. She joined Us today from that paper's studio in Los Angeles. You can read her columns on Eddie Dotson through our link on our Web site at npr.org. Just click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Coming up, a very different sort of disappearance and not wanting to be found. Evan Ratliff decided to see if he could vanish and create a new identity. We'll find out what happened next. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

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