Real Names: Unknown, possibly Samuel Vernon and Joan Woolen
Case: Lost Parents
Location: Queens, New York
Date: September 25, 1950
Details: Forty-six-year-old education administrator Gale Samuels is on a desperate mission to find her birth parents. Gale has a rare blood disorder called Myelodysplastic syndrome. She needs a bone marrow transplant from one of her biological relatives in order to save her life. Gale was adopted when she was an infant and grew up in a loving environment in Queens, New York; her brother was also adopted, but he is not biologically related to her. She had little desire to look for her birth family until she received her tragic diagnosis.
Through the New York Adoption Registry, she learned that her mother was twenty-five and Jewish, while her father was thirty and Greek Orthodox. Her adoption record also said that her birth mother was abandoned by her birth father, had no place to live, and felt that adoption was best for her. Gale was put in touch with Maria Lally, an adoption and family law attorney; she convinced a judge to open Gale's adoption files.
Gale learned that her birth father was Samuel Vernon, a clothing salesman; her birth mother was Joan Woolen. At the time of the adoption, Joan listed her address as 245 West 51st Street, New York City; in 1950, it was a residential hotel. Oddly, Gale could find no record of a "Joan Woolen" ever living there. Gale then discovered that everything listed in the adoption records might be a lie. Marcus Siegel, an illegal baby broker, had allegedly sold babies to the highest bidder; he was also the attorney who arranged Gale's adoption. In 1952, Siegel was convicted of trafficking infants; he admitted to changing birth records, so Gale believes that this may have happened to her records.
Siegel reportedly kept his records in a Manhattan office building where he worked. When he died, his widow claims that the records were given to the adoptive families. However, Gale's family never received these records. Gale believes that one of the people involved in the case, be it the D.A., the court reporter, or one of his co-workers, may have information to help her case.
Gale needs to find her biological family as soon as possible in hopes of having a bone marrow transplant to save her life. Her birth certificate states that she was born on September 25, 1950, at Physician's Hospital in Queens, New York; her birth name was "Marie".
Extra Notes: This case was featured as part of the December 13, 1996 episode. It was excluded from the Amazon Prime episodes.
Other "Baby Broker" cases featured include The Children of Georgia Tann, The Children of Ethel Nation, and The Family of Joe Soll.
A similar case involving a person with a life-threatening illness searching for biological family is Marilyn Hahnlein.
Results: Unsolved. Sadly, Gayle was never able to locate her biological family. After a valiant struggle with her illness, she passed away on October 7, 1998.
- Lawyer nabbed in racket of baby selling - November 2, 1951
- Lawyer convicted of baby peddling - July 4, 1952
- Gale Samuels - Social Security Death Index