Man who went to hospital ID'd
By Eve Modzelewksi, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 25, 2004
The man without a name now has one.
Five days after he walked into a hospital south of Stuart claiming he had no idea who he was, "John Doe" has been identified as 44-year-old Timothy Joseph Rantan from Geneseo, Ill.
Following fruitless interviews with the unknown man, St. Lucie County sheriff's deputies e-mailed Rantan's fingerprints to the FBI Fingerprint Identification Center in Clarksburg, W.Va., and came up with a match Thursday.
Rantan, they discovered, was arrested in 1993 and 1995 on forgery charges in Geneseo.
Sheriff's officials said he was spotted panhandling about a week ago at Vero Beach police headquarters, where a receptionist noticed he needed medical care. He was reportedly taken to an Indian River County medical facility and released last Friday.
Because of medical privacy laws, an Indian River Memorial Hospital spokeswoman said she couldn't confirm or deny that Rantan had been treated there.
Rantan was spotted driving a green Jeep Cherokee with an Illinois license plate in Vero Beach, but sheriff's officials said they didn't know if that's how he got to Martin Memorial Hospital South on Salerno Road, where he walked into the emergency room Saturday evening.
Hospital staff reported Rantan was "very upset and crying when he came in because he did not know who he is or where he is from," a sheriff's report states. He was wearing a blue polo shirt, jean shorts and sneakers, and he didn't appear to be injured.
Workers there invoked the Baker Act, allowing them to transport him to Savannas Hospital, a psychiatric facility near Port St. Lucie, where St. Lucie County sheriff's deputies later interviewed him.
He remembered Ronald Reagan had died, but not much else, St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara said Wednesday. Authorities don't know what became of the car.
A sheriff's report stated Rantan remained at Savannas Thursday, but hospital spokesman Art Ciasca did not return several calls for comment.
It's extremely rare for someone who hasn't been injured to forget everything about their life, said Rodrigo Kuljis, director of the division of cognitive and behavioral neurology at the University of Miami.
"That is very, very unusual, and most of the time it's more of a psychiatric problem," Kuljis said, adding that even Alzheimer's patients tend to remember their names. Without seeing Rantan, he said he couldn't be sure what the cause was.
"I see lots of weird things, but this one is a very special one and certainly not very common," he said.