In May 1992, a man regained consciousness near a Californian beach with nothing but a duffle bag and no idea who he was, “Those first few minutes, you’re literally nothing and you feel so empty. It’s very lonely and painful to be empty” (Unsolved.com). His initial thought was to call someone for help. He found a nearby road, and followed it until he came across a service station. It wasn’t until he went to dial did he realise that he didn’t know who to call.
Searching the bag, he found a Boston library card with the name Pierre April, some clothes and $17. With nothing else to go on, he assumed that he was Pierre. “It… must be me. It’s in my belongings, with my socks. It’s with my shirt. It’s with my things.” (Unsolved.com)
Pierre had some hazy recollections of San Diego, and decided to go there in the hope of recovering his missing memories. The $17 he had was not going to get him the 400 miles there however, so he hitchhiked.
Unfortunately for Pierre, San Diego was not filled with answers. He was as unclear about his identity as he’d been on the beach, “I was so sure this city would bring everything back and it did not. I saw downtown and said nothing. I looked at the buildings and they meant nothing. And I walked the streets of the city for a long time.” (Unsolved.com). In what must have been a terrifying situation, a bus driver he met in San Diego was sympathetic to his situation, and gave Pierre a lift to a local homeless shelter hoping they might be able to help.
Faking amnesia wasn’t uncommon in the homeless shelter to escape trouble or to swindle supplies so upon his arrival, he was assessed by Dr Julie Becker. She determined that his amnesia was genuine and possibly caused by trauma, but without knowing what happened it’s difficult to be sure.
Over the next few weeks, they ascertained he had knowledge of physics, maths, and guitar. He played the guitar on the streets to help raise some money to get by in this strange limbo. There were also a couple of faces he could half remember and he believed them to belong to a cousin and a former co-worker.
The TV show Unsolved Mysteries heard about his story and decided to include him in an episode hoping it might uncover some answers. Before the episode aired, they sent a sketch-artist to work with Pierre on the faces he recalled.
It worked. A woman named Carol called the number provided after recognising herself from the sketch. She was indeed a former co-worker and was able to confirm that he was Pierre April originally from Canada and with family still living there. Contact was made with Pierre’s father the next day, who broke the news he’d been missing for around five months. Pierre was unsure, however, still not having full memories and requested documentation be sent including his birth certificate and photos of the family. The parcel arrived with everything in.
Pierre has regained most of his memories over time but we may never know what caused the amnesia.