This Man Lived On The Streets For 30 Years Until The Police Discovered His True Identity

Mick Myers had a difficult childhood and eventually found himself living on the streets for the majority of his adult life. He was completely disregarded by the people he once called his family, friends, and even by society as a whole. But then, one county deputy sheriff gave Myers the chance to get his life back on track. With his help and that of a devoted volunteer, Myers was able to get off the streets. Not only that, but he was reconnected with someone he thought was gone from his life forever.

He Was Adopted At A Youg Age

Young photo of Mick Myers
KPIX CBS SF BAY Area/YouTube

Born in 1950, Mick Myers was adopted by a family from San Leandro, California when he was two years old. As a child, Myers earned decent grades and participated in his high school marching band.

Unfortunately, he never became as close to his family as he would have liked. As a teenager, he had trouble getting along with his siblings who he felt treated him like an outsider. However, he was close to his foster mother.

Even though his mother was supportive, he still struggled to consistently hold a job and be self-reliant.

Disowned By His Family

Mick is looking sad
KPIX CBS SF BAY Area/YouTube

After the passing of his adoptive parents, his siblings and another extended family turned their backs on Myers, disowning him. Unfortunately, this isn’t uncommon for adopted children. It happened around the same time that Myers began to have a falling out with his childhood friends from San Leandro as well.

It didn’t take long for Myers to find himself without a job or a support system. He felt that any of his purpose in life had been ripped out from under him.

What he needed was to find a job that he loved.

He Landed A Job

A line of semi trucks on the highway
PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

Amazingly, Myers finally found a job that he enjoyed as a truck driver. He enjoyed the job so much because it allowed him to travel and gave his life some much-needed structure. Even though he was constantly moving around, he still had a driving schedule that he followed every day and became close with his co-workers.

Although he held the job down for some time, Myer’s was faced with a tragedy that would result in him becoming homeless once again. It would also undo any of the progress he had made in turning his life around.

The Crash That Left Him Broken

Mick looks defeated
KPIX CBS SF BAY Area/YouTube

Myers thoroughly enjoyed his time as a truck driver, but unfortunately, he was involved in a serious car accident. The crash resulted in Myers breaking his back, sending him to the hospital for several weeks.

Even after leaving the hospital, Myers was confined to a wheelchair for the next year and was only rehabilitated enough to walk around on crutches. However, the worst of it all was that he realized he wouldn’t be able to work as a truck driver anymore.

Still Looking For Employment

Mick talking to a police officer
KPIX CBS SF BAY Area/YouTube

Even though he was injured, Myers knew that he still needed to work if he wanted to survive. However, his back condition made many jobs almost impossible, even if they wouldn’t have been that hard for someone healthy.

Most jobs that he applied for required him to be on his feet for hours, which would have caused him great pain. He skipped around between manufacturing and food service positions and even worked at the DMV for some time. Yet, things still weren’t falling into place.

Things were about to take a turn for the worse.

He Found Himself On The Streets

Playing guitar on the street
KPIX CBS SF BAY Area/YouTube

Unable to hold a job or find a new one, Myers soon found himself alone on the streets and without any help from his family or the government. By panhandling and playing his guitar on the side of the street, he barely made enough money to survive on the streets. By 2017, Myers was 67 years old and had spent the majority of his life homeless.

Of course, Myers isn’t alone, with 25% of the United State’s homeless population living in California. In 2017, it was also estimated by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development that the number of homeless in America is over 554,000 people.

In Comes Deputy Sheriff Jacob Swalwell

Deputy Sheriff Jacob Swalwell
KPIX CBS SF BAY Area/YouTube

In November 2017, Myers ran into Deputy Sheriff Jacob Swalwell beside a freeway in Hayward, California. However, this was not their first time meeting each other. The junction was one of Myer’s hangout areas where he would panhandle and play the guitar, a busy area where Swalwell had repeatedly asked him not to beg.

The 33-year-old officer had only ever given Myers warning and had never had a real conversation with the man. All he knew was that Myers was a homeless man who frequently begged on Foothill Boulevard.

Some Compassion Goes A Long Way

a cardboard sign with a message about Jesus
KPIX CBS SF BAY Area/YouTube

At one point, Swalwell had intended to give Myers a citation for continuing to panhandle on the corner he was warned not to. Of course, Myers didn’t have an ID to provide which got the two men talking.

Myers ended up telling the deputy all about his family, disability, and life on the street. Without an ID, Myers wasn’t eligible for social security, something that made his life on the streets that much more difficult. He had remained undocumented for the majority of his life.

That was all about to change.

Lending A Hand

Swalwell in his squad car
KPIX CBS SF BAY Area/YouTube

Myers elaborated that he couldn’t get an ID even if he wanted one, because he didn’t have any of the required documents. This excluded him from receiving any government support.

Swalwell couldn’t help but feel sorry for Myers, stating: “you’ve got someone to help you now. I will help you get an ID, so you can get social security and get off the streets.” Myers was deeply thankful for Swalwell’s kindness, and this marked the beginning of their friendship.

Why Help?

Swalwell and Myers talking
KPIX CBS SF BAY Area/YouTube

Considering that there are thousands of homeless in California, it begs the question: why did Swalwell decide to personally help Myers over anyone else? As it turns out, Swalwell claims he felt that Myers was being “truthful and sincere,” something policeman don’t always necessarily experience while on their beat.

Something else that made Swalwell believe Myers’ story was that he had never spent the money he made on drugs or alcohol. He would barely make enough money to get a meal at nearby fast food restaurants, so that’s what he spent all his money on.

Swalwell Got Straight To Work

Swalwell and Myers embracing
KPIX-5/Twitter

Deputy Swalwell wasted in no time in getting Myers the proper help that he needed. His first stop was the DMV to see if he could retrace Myers records and learn at what point they had been lost. Unfortunately, even though Myers was a former DMV employee, it looked as though his records had been erased.

Now, in order to be issued a government ID, Myers would need to acquire a birth certificate, as well as proof that he was a resident of California. Swalwell knew how difficult this process would be and asked, “How does a homeless person come up with two forms of residency?”.

Swalwell knew he was going to need some extra help.

Others Helped To Get Myers Back On Track

Myers in line at the DMV
ABC7/YouTube

Swalwell’s next stop was to enlist the help of his church pastor and other members of the Alameda Sheriff’s Department. They helped to provide Myers’ with proof of residency by signing off on the necessary documents. Simultaneously, Swalwell got started got to work on Myers’ birth certificate, following a paper trail back to the hospital where he was born.

In the end, the deputy managed to get his hands on the birth certificate and turned in all of the necessary paperwork to the DMV. After jumping through countless bureaucratic hoops, Myers was able to get an ID in December 2017.

There was a surprising detail discovered within all of Myers’ paperwork.

A Secret Identity

Myers holding his guitar at a bus stop
KPIX CBS SF BAY Area/YouTube

After going through all of Myers’ documents, it was discovered that Mick wasn’t Myer’s given birth name, but was a shortened version of his middle name. Myers’ real name at birth was Gordon Michael Oakley, something Myers was completely unaware of. By now, local media had caught onto the story and approached Swalwell for more information.

People soon became interested in the police officer who was helping a homeless man get off the streets. The story helped raise awareness about other forms of help that Myers would need.

It also got the attention of private investigator Mark Askins.

Mark Askins Volunteered To Help

Mark Askins looking at paperwork
KPIX CBS SF BAY Area/YouTube

Mark Askins, an experienced private investigator, heard about Myers’ story and immediately became interested. For some time, he had volunteered for the charity Miracle Messages, which helped reunite homeless individuals with their long-lost family and friends.

He reached out to Swalwell and offered his services to help find Myers’ biological family, well-aware of the difficulties that would stand in his way. He felt that his help might greatly increase Myers’ chances of actually getting off the streets and knew Miracle Messages could help.

Myers Had No Contact With The Outside World

Tracking Down Information in a book of records
KPIX CBS SF BAY Area/YouTube

Many homeless people have a difficult time reaching out to their families. Whether it’s due to their own shame, lack of knowledge and limited technology, mental disability, or countless other reasons, many rely on volunteers like Askins for help.

Just like countless other homeless individuals, Myers had fallen off of the grid, with nobody knowing where to find him even if they wanted to. On top of that, he was out of the loop in regard to technology and hadn’t had access to any of the latest innovations such as the Internet or cell phones since the 1980s.

Tracking Down Information

Mark Askins pointing at a computer screen
KPIX CBS SF BAY Area/YouTube

Using the information that was provided by Swalwell, Mark Askins got to work. With just Myers’ real birth name, date, place, and his mother’s first name, he began looking through the documents at the Alameda county courthouse, hoping to find any surviving relatives.

When a baby is born today, their information is meticulously recorded in a computer database. Back in the 1950s, that wasn’t the case. While their information was written down, it wasn’t nearly as organized. In fact, many of the records from the first half of the 20th century still haven’t been digitized or been made available to the public.

They Found Useful Information

A directory
KPIX CBS SF BAY Area/YouTube

Eventually, Askin’s persistence paid off. He found a case file at the courthouse about a young woman named Marie Pauline Oakley who had married a man named Wiley Albert Oakley. The two had a small wedding in Reno before returning to Alameda with a child who became known as Mick Myers.

The couple eventually had their wedding annulled and went separate ways, leaving their child up for adoption. It didn’t take long for Askins to learn who Myers’ biological father was and that he had passed away years earlier.

Finding out where Myer’s mother was and why she put her son up for adoption proved to be more difficult.

Locating His Mother

An old photo of a mother holding a child
KPIX CBS SF BAY Area/YouTube

After learning the identity of Myer’s biological mother, it was time to learn what had happened to her. Her name wasn’t particularly uncommon and given her age, there was a strong possibility that she could be dead. After a few weeks of searching, Askins discovered a Marie Pauline Oakley living in Eureka, California.

Askins decided to go out on a limb and give the number a call. When he did, an elderly woman answered the phone. Mrs. Oakley was alive and 85 years old! However, she was currently going by her middle name, Pauline.

The Reason Behind The Adoption

Pauline looking through an old photo album
KPIX CBS SF BAY Area/YouTube

It didn’t take long for Askins to bring up Myers to Pauline. She was shocked to hear of him and had wondered for all the years what had happened to her son. She explained that Myers, who was then named Gordon, was born with a hole in his stomach, a life-threatening condition.

Although she worked multiple jobs and did everything she could, she could no longer keep up with the medical bills. She had made the tough decision that giving him up for adoption was the best option to assure he had a quality shot at life.

First Contact Between A Mother And Her Son

Pauline speaking
KPIX CBS SF BAY Area/YouTube

After Pauline gave up her son for adoption, he was put in the care of his future adoptive parents, who attended the same church. While she had second thoughts about her decision, she stuck to her decision for the sake of the child.

When Askins first contacted Pauline about Myers, she made it clear that she was eager to reconnect with her long-lost son. In March 2018, Pauline and Myers spoke on the phone for the first time, but their communication didn’t stop there.

Going To Meet His Mother

Myers and Askins in a plane
KPIX CBS SF BAY Area/YouTube

Just a few weeks after talking on the phone for the first time, Myers flew in a small plane to Eureka to meet his mother, with Askins and Swalwell providing emotional support. He was given up for adoption at two and had no recollection of his birth mother.

When the plane landed, they were greeted by Myers’ niece, Shannon, another surprise for him. Shannon then drove Myers, Askins, and Swalwell to the home of Pauline Oakley.

Myers had no idea what to expect.

Meeting Face-To-Face

Mother and son embracing
KPIX CBS SF BAY Area/YouTube

Upon arriving at Pauline’s home, Myer’s was greeted by his birth mother for the first time since he was just two years old. The two met each other with a long embrace, regardless of the fact that they hadn’t seen each other in over 60 years.

The mother and son both cried in each other’s arms, neither having ever thought that they would see the other again. Especially after living on the streets for so long, this was a touching moment for Myers.

The two had a lot of catching up to do.

Catching Up On Lost Time

Pauline and Myers looking at an album together
KPIX CBS SF BAY Area/YouTube

After their embrace, Myers and his mother sat down to catch up on their more than 50 years of being apart. Pauline pulled out some old photo albums to show Myers pictures of herself, her mother, his siblings, and even Myers himself as a baby. It didn’t take long for him to realize that his mother had led a hard life as well.

In turn, Myers told his own life story starting from his time with his adoptive family and how grateful he was for them. He also talked about his estranged adoptive relatives and his many struggles throughout his life.

Pauline Was Shocked

A gathering of people
KPIX CBS SF BAY Area/YouTube

Of course, Pauline was devastated to hear about all of the struggles her son had faced throughout his life. She spent her years hoping that he was doing fine, so to hear this wasn’t the case was very hard to hear.

She explained to KPIX-5, “I just get so sad when I think of the things I got to do with his siblings and with their children. All the experiences they’ve had, things they have done. The advantages they’ve enjoyed. And I got so sad when he told me how he had been mistreated. The emotional abuse of never being accepted.”

But Myer’s life was about to turn around.

A True Family Reunion

A True Family Reunion
KPIX CBS SF BAY Area/YouTube

Since the passing of his adoptive parents, Myers finally felt like he was accepted and had a family that loved and supported him. He got more family than he could have ever even imagined including a mother, siblings, nephews, nieces, and more! They were all quick to accept Myers into the family.

After meeting his biological family, Myers moved in with his mother, officially part of the family. He also now has health insurance and was able to apply so social security thanks to the help of his new friend, deputy Jacob Swalwell.

They Couldn’t Be Happier

Myers giving his mother a hug
KPIX CBS SF BAY Area/YouTube

Pauline and her son have both expressed their gratitude for the help from officer Swalwell and private inspector Askins. When Swalwell first entered the home, Pauline asked him to turn around. Confused, he did as he was asked with Pauline saying “I wanted to see where your wings are because you’ve brought my son home to me, you are an angel.”

After first meeting Myers, Pauline told him that “to have you here puts a piece of my heart back. It means the world to me.” Myers responded by saying, “I’ve always wondered all these years why things turned out the way they did. This wondering has disappeared now.” It was clear that the family was meant to be together once again — all thanks to the help of Jacob Swalwell and Mark Askins.

It Wouldn’t Have Been Possible Without Help

Alameda County Sheriff's Department logo
Almeda County Sheriff’s Department/GoFundMe

When telling the story of Myers reuniting with his mother and the rest of his biological family, it’s important to remember that it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Alameda County Sheriff’s Department officers and Miracle Messages.

They helped to raise money to fly Myers out to meet his mother as well as to get him back on his feet. The Sheriff’s Department even started a GoFundMe, raising over $2,000 to put toward food, housing, clothing, and anything else he may need.

Keep reading to learn about other homeless people who were reunited with their families.

Johnny Rhodes

A homeless and shirtless man lying in a parking lot
Pinterest

This photo of a man named Johnny Rhodes went viral after Facebook users saw how much he was suffering. It was taken on the streets of Indianapolis. The social media posts encouraged citizens to find Rhode’s family, with his picture being shared over 1,000 times.

Amazingly, the picture made its way to Rhode’s brother, Danny, who recognized him. Unfortunately, since Rhodes was homeless, he proved to be difficult to find. Only time would tell if he would be reunited with his brother.

Searching For Johnny Rhodes

Johnny Rhodes
Amy Ranae Smith/Facebook

Determined to find his brother, Danny Rhodes made a Facebook page called “Looking For Johnny Rhodes.” There was little activity for months, with many of the sightings turning out to be false alarms. Then, somebody saw Johnny and immediately contacted his brother on Facebook. Johnny and Danny were reunited just two days later. Johnny managed to get off the streets for good.

According to the Facebook page, Johnny has “two meals [a day], a shower, a pair of clean clothes, a room to himself with quiet, a king size bed, tv w/ cable, fridge, a microwave, Pepsi, & leftovers. He is safe, and resting.”

Isaac Avila

Isaac Avila reuniting with his sister
WSVN/YouTube

Isaac Avila, otherwise known as Chico, was a 65-year-old man living on the streets of Miami, Florida. With the help of a volunteer named Gaby from Miracle Messages, his life was going to change forever. With her help, he recorded a video in the hopes that it would reach his sister Guadalupe.

He told her how much he loved and missed her. Sure enough, Guadeloupe eventually saw the video and reunited with her brother. After reuniting with his sister, he moved off the streets and now lives with her and her children.