Mystery of Baby Left in Ohio Phone Booth Solved 64 Years Later

When bread delivery men opened the door to a telephone booth one cold, January morning in 1954 and discovered a cooing baby, they had no idea how he got there.

It would take 64 years and a DNA test for the mystery of “Little Boy Blue-eyes” to be solved.

His eyes have darkened to brown, but 64-year-old Phoenix resident Steve Dennis knows he was the approximately 2-month-old baby with no birth date, birth place or birth parents to be found.

Instead, his birth certificate lists the place he was found that morning: a telephone booth outside Yielky’s Drive-In on U.S. 22, a former restaurant just outside Lancaster’s city limits. He was found wrapped in blanket and tucked in a cardboard box for at least three or four hours before the bread delivery men saw something moving in the booth.

For years Dennis didn’t think the story was true. It was too far-fetched. He also never expected to learn the identity of his biological mother or the story leading up to being left in an Ohio phone booth. But he did, and he’s meeting his biological mother later this month for the first time.

Adolescence

Since Dennis was about three years old, he remembers his adoptive parents, Stanley and Vivian Dennis, telling him he was adopted.

“Luckily my parents told me early on that I was adopted, probably from the time I was three,” he said. “Most of that really had no impact on me. You hear it so much, it doesn’t phase you anymore.”

It wasn’t until he was 15 or 16 when he heard the outlandish story about being discovered in a phone booth.

At first police weren’t sure if he was a kidnapping victim or if a passing motorist left him there. Police settled on the latter when there were no subsequent reports of any child abductions. Still, they never found the baby’s parents. The Eagle-Gazette published several articles describing the event, the first one stating “… the baby was lively, but very cold, and a full milk bottle was found beside the infant. The bottle was also cold. The baby’s physical condition appeared to be good.”

After the first story published, dozens of people expressed interest in fostering or adopting the baby. Dennis was placed in a foster home and later adopted by the Dennis family in February 1955. They moved to Arizona where Dennis has resided ever since.

“When I was 18 or 19 I went to Lancaster to kind of get a look at it,” Dennis said, adding that at the time, there wasn’t much to find.

As a baby in 1954 Steve Dennis was abandoned in a telephone booth in Lancaster, Ohio. This photograph shows Dennis's birth certificate from that time.
As a baby in 1954 Steve Dennis was abandoned in a telephone booth in Lancaster, Ohio. This photograph shows Dennis’s birth certificate from that time. (Photo: Cheryl Evans/The Republic)

He had let it go for years until his two daughters, ages 18 and 14 got him a Ancestry.com DNA test that determines ethnicity and can find genetic relatives. The results returned in January, followed by a message from a man also using Ancestry.com, who was a genetic match to Dennis. This man, he learned, was his first cousin.

“He said ‘I think I know who your mother is. We’ve heard throughout our lives that there’s a baby that we’re related to that was left in a telephone booth,'” Dennis recalled. “It was thislike this hidden secret.”

Dennis’ cousin connected him to Dennis’ half-sister, who lives in Baltimore. Growing up, his sister said she had also heard the story.

“This deep dark secret of my biological mother, the kids had heard about this, but they weren’t sure if it’s true or not,” he said. To check the story, his sister got her own DNA test, confirming the match.

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Source: USA Today