Real Name: John Dodge
Case: Lost Father
Location: Dearborn, Michigan
CaseEditDetails: Over several years, Frances "Pat" Mealbach has begun to suspect that she is actually the daughter of John Frances Dodge, the founder of the Dodge Automobile Industry, and the twin sister of Frances Matilda Dodge. Her suspicions began when she found a photo of herself as an infant with another similarly dressed infant; it was one of the very few photos of her as a baby. After her father's death, she recieved a package that had been pre-arranged to be left with her. In it was all the clues and evidence of her paternity. Although she had been born in 1914, she had a birth certificate dated 1942 when it was filed. It also gave her name as Frances while her given name was Lucille. Pat also had memories that only exacerbated the mystery. Her parents had been visited often by a couple named Frank and Viola Upton; Frank turned out to be John Dodge's personal secretary, and quite possibly the man who had engineered the adoption. Working with her in-laws, Pat began searching for her adoption records and birth certificate. On the adoption records, her biological mother was named as Emma Nelson, who had been a maid in the Dodge Home on Boston Boulevard in Detroit. Now using her maiden name, Frances Mannzer, she sent away for her birth certificate from the State of Michigan Birth Records Division. When it showed up, it listed her name as Frances Dodge.
In a eight-year long court battle filled with deceit against twenty Dodge family attorneys, Pat tried to confirm what she already suspected. Her court battle did little but change the laws on obtaining adoption records in Michigan. Pat agreed to a DNA testing against her attorney's advice. The test was conducted at the Universiy of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan. These results were never disclosed or used in court against her. Pat has never been able to see the results, hearing instead the file was misplaced, but this only led her to believe they were in her favor and the Dodge lawyers had stifled the results.
Eventually, Pat was finally allowed to see her original birth certificate. It was in very bad condition after efforts to alter it. Her father's name and birthdate had been erased and altered. The name Emma Jane Nelson from Jackson, Michigan was named as her mother with the name of the hospital where she had been born, but that hospital had no records of her birth despite otherwise meticulous records. Men who knew John Dodge even recalled him saying he had twins at the same time Pat was born. Furthermore, Pat learned she had briefly lived in a Tuberculosis hospital in Niles, Michigan which had also been John Dodge's home town. Frank Upton had arranged for her adoption into the Manzers. The evidence and the proof that Pat was John Dodge's long lost daughter was all there; all that was missing is the confirmation but for the annoyed hinderance and strained deceit of the Dodge Family lawyers.
Extra Notes: This segment was featured as part of the January 20, 1987 episode.
This story was researched in the book, "Tangled Web" by Jean Pitrone.
Results: Unsolved. Sadly, Pat Mealbach passed away in 2008 without ever learning the truth.