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The Children of Ethel Nation

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Scott merz1

Scott Merz

Real Name: Dylene Zolikoff, Scott Merz, and Dawnette Barker
Case: Lost Family
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Date: January 1960 to 1966

Dylene zolikoff and her daughter (left)

Dylene Zolikoff and her daughter (left)


Details: Ethel Nation was a nurse in San Antonio, Texas during the 1950s and 1960s who used deceit and subterfuge to abduct and illegally sell several children during her career. On January 6, 1960, eighteen-year-old Dylene Zolikoff gave birth to a daughter who Nation spirited off and sold under shady circumstances. Dylene spent years trying to track her down without any help from Nation, who remained obstinate about the whole business. After several years, she and her now grown daughter were finally reunited on national television.

Infant scott merz2

Scott Merz as an infant

Unfortunately, this was not the only child Nation abducted from its birthmother. Two of them, Scott Merz and Dawnette Barker, are also looking for their birth families. Scott was born in 1965 in San Antonio and given by Nation to a couple unable to have children who paid her $1,200. When he was twelve, he began having strange dreams about a woman giving birth. His adoptive mother, Mary Merz, helped him to try and track down his mother and even collided with Nation trying to get the facts, but ever obstinate, she kept changing the facts on the details of his birth, finally getting upset at him and claiming that his mother did not want him, that she was a horrible person, and that he should stop looking for her.
Scott was eventually "eerily" drawn to the Woodlawn Clinic, one of the places where Nation had worked in the past. It was much like a place he had seen in his dreams. He was unable to find his mother, but he eventually met Dawnette Barker, who had been born in July 1966 and also sold by Nation to a childless couple in San Antonio. Her adopted parents did not believe that they were taking her home once they got there, so they gave Nation their boat. Barker eventually discovered her birthmother's name was Gloria Cant; her illegal adoption papers had been notarized by Nation. It is unknown as to how many children Nation illegally abducted and placed with other couples. She died in 1991, her secrets going to the grave with her.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the October 28, 1992 episode.
Results: Unresolved. After the broadcast, several viewers called in to confirm Dawnette's mother as Gloria Cantu Martinez. She had never wanted to give her up for adoption, but had been deceived by Nation into doing so. She and Dawnette were soon reunited as a result, along with Dawnette's children. However, sadly, Scott has not found any closure in his search. Dylene Zolikoff passed away in 2009 at the age of 68.

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