Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Real Name: Unknown
Nicknames: John Doe, Sir, John
Location: Stockton, California
Date: September 24, 1993


Occupation: Unknown
Date of Birth: Unknown
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 165 lbs.
Marital Status: Unknown
Characteristics: White male with brown (flecked with white) hair and blue eyes. On his left forearm are tattoos that depict a lightning bolt and what appears to be the letters "PBI". He appears to be in his late forties or early fifties.


Details: Authorities are trying to identify a man who has been in a coma ever since he was critically injured in an accident. On September 24, 1993, he, referred to as "John Doe", was walking on a sidewalk along Waterloo Road in east Stockton, California, forty-five miles from Sacramento. When a motorcycle swerved to avoid an out-of-control car, it struck him. He was immediately taken to a Stockton hospital.
John had sustained a significant head injury with bleeding and bruising of the brain. Both of his legs were also broken. According to Traffic Officer Kenneth Frye of the California Highway Patrol, he did not have any property with him. He did not have anything in his pockets. He had no money, luggage, or identification. Officer Frye says there was no way for them to identify him.
Since the accident, John has remained in a coma. In November 1993, he was transferred to Sutter General Hospital in Sacramento. The staff call him "Sir" or "John", short for "John Doe". He is unable to speak or communicate in any way. He has no name and no past, and he faces an uncertain future.
Every morning, John's caretakers get him out of bed, dress him, comb his hair, and shave him. They talk to him about the news and the weather. They play classical music and nature videos for him. They also sing to him. They do whatever they can to try to coax a response from him. Since March 1994, his condition has improved slightly. Although his eyes are closed, he blinks occasionally and moves his mouth. He is able to breathe without the aid of machinery. He sometimes responds to his caretakers by fluttering his eyelids or squeezing a hand.
Authorities say they need to find John's family as soon as possible. Sutter's nurse manager, Leanne Lovering, says that the recovery of coma patients depends a lot on familiarity: being around family, friends, and other people he can recognize and relate to, and bringing back ideas and things that he has done in the past. She says that without this help, and without even knowing his name that they can call him by, his chances of recovering are a lot slower, if at all.
The police compared John's fingerprints to those on file in California. However, no matches were found. Despite their attempts, he remains unidentified. Somewhere, there are family and friends of his who are looking for him.
Extra Notes:

  • This case first aired on the May 4, 1994 episode.
  • It was excluded from the FilmRise release of the Robert Stack episodes.
  • It has similarities to Daly City Man.

Results: Solved. A viewer, Barbara Lempka of Key Largo, Florida, recognized John as her brother, a fifty-four-year-old drifter named David Allen Johnson. She and their other sister, who lived in southern California, recognized him based on his tattoos. They had not been in contact with him for several years, describing him as a "free spirit" who moved to different places throughout the country, working odd jobs. Barbara last saw him in Florida around 1991. After making the connection, they contacted the California Highway Patrol and sent pictures of him. They knew about a scar on his finger that had not been publicized.
In July 1994, nurses began calling John "David". When asked if that was his name, he responded by blinking affirmatively. Hospital officials believed that he was actually David. CHP officials, however, were not convinced. They wanted his relatives to come and visually identify him. Unfortunately, at that time, his sisters were unable to come to Sacramento; Barbara had financial difficulties, and their other sister was in poor health.
Officer Frye, after viewing David's picture and the information on his driver's license, was "99.9% sure" he was John. He then contacted a public relations firm hired by the hospital and told them about him. However, this information was apparently never forwarded to the hospital, and he remained unidentified.
Sadly, on October 17, 1996, John passed away from coronary artery disease and injuries suffered in the accident. Four days later, officials from the Sacramento County Coroner's Office were able to locate David's fingerprints and compare them to his. They were a match, confirming his identity.