Eleanor Platt and John Elias

Eleanor Platt and John Elias in 1953

Real Name: Rose Marie (last name unknown)
Case: Lost Daughter
Date: 1954
Location: Buffalo, New York


Details: In 1953 in Buffalo, New York, seventeen-year-old high school student Eleanor Platt became interested in John Elias, who was African-American and twelve years older than her. They soon began dating, but there were problems because their relationship was interracial. Eventually, John asked Eleanor to marry him; she agreed to leave home during Christmas and move in with him.
They lived together until January 26, 1954, when Eleanor discovered that she was pregnant. She returned to her parents and told them the news. Her father, who was an alcoholic, was furious and sent her to a home for unwed mothers. He accused John of rape; he was arrested and also charged with holding Eleanor against her will, even though neither charge was true. John pleaded guilty to the charges in order to keep Eleanor from going through the trial.

Eleanor and John 1992

Eleanor and John in 1992

On September 13, 1954, Eleanor gave birth to a daughter, Rose Marie, in the home for unwed mothers. Eleanor was forced to give her up to social services. John was released from jail early and he and Eleanor reunited. They planned to get Rose Marie back. They decided to tell Eleanor's parents, but her father was again furious and told John to leave.
Eleanor's parents had her arrested for failing to obey their orders. She was sentenced to a three-year term at a juvenile center; she was told that her sentence would be reduced if she gave Rose Marie up for adoption. She later learned that because she was eighteen, she did not have to do so. She was released six months after the adoption. She wanted to be reunited with John but could not find him. She later learned that he had been literally run out of town due to harassment by the police and others.
Due to complications from Rose Marie's birth, Eleanor was unable to have any more children. In 1977, she married Steven Wozniak and they have raised four foster children. John also remarried and he and his second wife had two children. In 1987, he began searching for Rose Marie. He was able to locate and reunite with Eleanor; they are now both searching for her.

Eleanor, Sally, and John

John, Sally, and Eleanor reunited

Extra Notes: This case first aired on the February 12, 1992 episode.
Results: Solved. Eleanor and John's daughter, Sally Lou Riley, was found after her coworker saw the broadcast. She had known that she was adopted and received some information about Eleanor. She shared it with her coworker, who realized that she was Eleanor and John's long-lost daughter.
A few days after the broadcast, Sally was reunited with her parents. They were also able to meet their grandchildren for the first time. Sadly, John died in 2011 at the age of 87.