What was most striking about the man who called himself Jay Tower when he arrived at Chicago’s Pacific Garden Mission homeless shelter last August was how little baggage he seemed to carry, emotional or otherwise. He arrived without money, ID—or any memory of his past life. Still, says Mike Dunn, the shelter’s assistant security director, “he was polite, considerate of others and cooperative. I always told him, ‘Jay, it’s a pleasure dealing with you.'”
Only on Feb. 13 was the mystery solved, when a friend at the shelter spotted his photo on an America’s Most Wanted Web site and realized “Jay” was actually 57-year-old Raymond Power Jr., a New Rochelle attorney and former police officer whose desperate wife and children had been searching for him ever since he suddenly disappeared seven months ago. “There are no words to express our happiness over Ray’s return,” says his wife of 30 years, Jane Power. “Our prayers have finally been answered.”
But not entirely. Just as doctors don’t know precisely what triggered Power’s bout of severe amnesia—his family suspects that painful memories of his service in Vietnam, rekindled by the events of 9/11, may have been a psychological trigger—they are also unsure about what will cure it. Even now, he “remembers who’s President of the United States, but not how to use the New York subway system,” says his sister Sue Power, who on Feb. 14 flew to Chicago to bring him back to New York, where he’s now hospitalized and under medical evaluation. She thanks the staff of the Chicago shelter for taking her brother in when he arrived there with no means of support.
For his part, Power, who had to ask his sister which religion he belongs to, seems to be aware that he’s still far from the end of his journey. “He’s very happy to have found his family, but realizes it’s going to be a long road,” says Sue Power. “He’s home, but in a life he doesn’t know anything about.”