Real Names: William and Cynthia Zelinski
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Torrance, California
Details: Sharon Stevens, whose mother died when she an infant, was frequently abused by her father when she was a child. In 1959, she was finally able to escape her house but was placed in a foster home where she was cold and bitter to her first set of foster parents. One day, she came home from school to find her social worker waiting for her. She had been kicked out of the foster home and would be taken in by a new foster family. Her new foster parents were Bill and Cynthia Zelinski of Gardena, California.
At first, Sharon was mean to the Zelinskis like she was to the other foster parents, but then she realized that they was different. They talked to her and showed that they cared about her. Every day when she came home from school for lunch, she was tutored by Cynthia, who helped her go from being an F student to an A student. The Zelinskis also urged her to pursue her childhood dream of learning ballet. Cynthia helped her do so and Bill put in a dance bar. She remembers another happy moment when they bought her a new dress for a birthday party. She was reluctant to go at first but Cynthia went with her and she felt comfortable. Before going to the Zelinskis, she had a very low self-esteem, but she feels that they were able to bring it up and make her feel loved.
Sharon finally felt happy living with the Zelinskis until a year later when she found out that her father had remarried and that she had to return to him. Back at his house, the only comfort she had was a doll that the Zelinskis had given her. A few weeks later, she returned home late from a friend's house to find her brother waiting. He told her that their father was going to beat her. She immediately went to a phone booth and called the Zelinskis, who sent a cab to pick her up. Once again she finally felt safe with them. However, a few hours later, her father showed up and took her back once again. She knew that she would be beaten, so she put several layers of clothes on. He once again beat her savagely with his belt, cutting through the layers of clothes. He also cut her across her face.
A few days later, however, the police were called after school officials noticed signs of abuse on Sharon. Her father was arrested and she was sent to several other foster homes. However, she was not placed in the Zelinskis' home and never saw them again.
Sharon went on to have two children when she was a teenager. Tragically, her second child was later killed by an abusive relative. In 1974, her life turned around when she met her husband, Dean. They have a six-year-old son and live near her married daughter. She believes that she would be living a much worse life if it hadn't been for the Zelinskis. Now she wants to find them and thank them for all the compassion they gave her.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the November 22, 1989 episode.
Results: Solved. On the night of the broadcast, the Zelinskis saw themselves on it. They were overjoyed to learn that Sharon was looking for them and contacted the telecenter. On November 25, 1989, she traveled to their house in Laguna Niguel, California, and was joyfully reunited with them. She credits them for the person she has become.