DETROIT -- A man who lived without an identity for more than four
years was finally reunited with his family outside a Detroit courtroom
Maurice Williams - previously known as John D108 Doe -
hugged his relatives, although it wasn't immediately clear whether he
recognized them. Williams has been diagnosed with severe mental illness
and doesn't speak much. He smiled and waved at several people Tuesday.
46, got his identity back after an October article in the Detroit Free
Press. Now, he's on the path to getting his family back permanently,
"Everybody is waiting to see him," said Janine Williams, who is seeking guardianship of her brother.
Tuesday, Wayne County Probate Judge Terrance Keith said he looked
forward to Maurice Williams being back with his family and told Janine
Williams that he's close to coming home.
"The probate process,
this part of it, is not about keeping families apart," Keith said. "It's
about trying to find the elements to bring them back together."
assigned John Sullivan, who previously had contact with those involved,
to work with Williams' sister and his court-appointed guardian,
Kathleen White-Montgomery, owner of Guardianship Service.
Sullivan said he would help facilitate visitation and that could then transition into overnight stays.
said she has reservations about Williams being in the care of his
family. She said neither of his sisters has called her since he was
identified, even though her phone number appeared in the newspaper.
always good for him to know his family," White-Montgomery said. "I hope
(Judge Keith) takes another look at what is going on because I'm not
very enthused about turning him over to that family. I hope I'm wrong."
A hearing was scheduled for Feb. 12, when a plan can be set to move forward.
Williams was placed in an adult foster care home in 2008. He was found
on a Detroit street, and police took him to Detroit Receiving Hospital
for treatment, according to Tuesday's testimony. Court documents say he
could not tell officials his name.
Police ran his fingerprints and
didn't get any hits. Gateway Community Health, a Detroit agency that
provides mental health services, placed him in a home. Audre Watts, an
adult foster care provider, has cared for him since, along with her
"A number of things could have, should have, might have
happened in 2008," Keith said. "What I am really focused on right now is
2013 and his care."
During the hearing, Williams wore a blue sweater and plaid shirt and silently looked around the courtroom.
told the court he visited Williams, who appeared to be well-cared-for,
well-dressed and happy, but who had limited communication skills.
"I asked him if he wanted to go with his sister or stay with Ms. Watts," Sullivan said.
He answered, "Stay," Sullivan said.
Janine Williams said her brother hasn't spoken since he was 14 other than to say "yes" and "no" in a low voice.
"All of the things that they're saying my brother is saying, they're lying," she said.
The judge asked whether she was present when Sullivan asked the question, and she responded "No."
told the Free Press that Maurice Williams doesn't talk much, but has
said other words and phrases, such as "Hi, Ms. Watts," "pop," "bathroom"
She said he requires constant care but that she doesn't want to keep him from his family.
Williams said in court Tuesday that her family filed a missing-person
report in 2008, the year her brother disappeared, and that she called
nursing homes - and even went to some - looking for him.
"We've been looking for him all these years," she said.
alleged in court papers that her brother was kidnapped and repeated
that claim in court Tuesday, but Keith shot it down and said the
testimony doesn't suggest that.
"The fact of the matter is, he is
here and you're able to stand before this court and say, 'I want my
brother back' instead of having some other conversation about your
brother," Keith said.
He commended Maurice Williams' caretakers
for their efforts and said they made sure he had food, clothing and a
roof over his head.
"They can't love him as a brother," Keith said. "But they can love him as another human being - which is what they've done."
said workers from Gateway Community Health sent people out to attempt
to identify Williams again in 2009 and 2010 but were unable to do so.
She continued to care for him - even putting the name "John Doe" on his
birthday cake - and footed the bill for many of his needs. She has yet
to receive more than $40,000 for expenses that accrued over that time
for things such as room and board.
Stacey Conyers, become involved with Williams' care last May when her
mother was appointed his guardian. Conyers spent hours searching for
clues to his identity. She scoured missing-persons websites, made calls
and ultimately contacted the Free Press to try to get help figuring out
Without an identity and Social Security number, it was a struggle to get him the medical care he needed, his caretakers said.
Security checks may have been issued for Williams during the time he
was in adult foster care, according to testimony Tuesday. Keith asked
Janine Williams whether she had been receiving the checks.
"They stopped a long time ago," she said. "Because I stopped filling out the forms."
It's an item that Keith said still needs to be sorted out.
After the hearing, Janine Williams declined to comment, as did her cousin.
But Conyers said Maurice Williams was "done wrong."
"He had no voice and he fell through the cracks," she said.
Elisha Anderson, Detroit Free Press