On October 12, 1990, Winston Bright from New York City went to work and never returned home. His wife Leslie and their children spent years searching for him and eventually declared him deceased.
Then after more than 20 years, a stranger began contacting the Bright family, claiming he was their missing father.
On the day of his disappearance, Winston called his wife during lunchbreak and said he would be home by 5:30 PM. This was the last time she heard his voice.
When Winston didn’t return home the following morning, Leslie contacted the police and informed them of her husband’s disappearance. Sadly, they couldn’t find any leads or traces. However, the police did notice something strange in his bank statement.
There were no withdrawals from his bank account, and not even one purchase was made since he had gone missing. It was like he disappeared off the face of the earth.
Leslie believed that her husband had no reason to run away. “Winston and I had a good marriage, and he was very close to his three children,” she recalled. After ten years of searching for Winston, Leslie declared him dead at the court and collected his pension and insurance to provide for her children. Little did she know that the disaster was waiting just around the corner.
Before Winston had mysteriously disappeared, Leslie was a stay-at-home mom. She wasn’t employed, as her primary duties were raising her children and housework.
After her husband disappeared, the family found themselves in a difficult financial situation and had to sell the house.
Leslie and her children moved to her parent’s house, and she got a part-time job as a data entry clerk.
Out of all of her children, her son Aaron was the most affected by his father’s disappearance.
Shortly after his father went missing, Aaron got involved with the wrong crowd and ended up in prison. He was convinced that Winston had voluntarily left his family.
The teen figured that if his father was killed, the police would’ve found his body by now. But he never turned up dead, which meant that he was probably hiding from them somewhere.
Then, nearly two decades after he had gone missing, Leslie received a strange call from a Californian man who claimed to be their dead father.
He introduced himself as Kwame Seku and expressed his interest in reconnecting with the grieving family.
Leslie had no doubt in her mind that this man wasn’t her husband, Winston. However, she decided to give Seku a chance to explain himself, hoping it would somehow help her solve her husband’s case.
Seku explained that he suffered from amnesia, and that was why he couldn’t remember his identity. But, how did he end up in California?
He explained that he was living in California and wasn’t aware that his wife and children were searching for him.
His friends from the West Coast were the ones who helped him understand his past and find Leslie’s phone number. Did Leslie believe him?
Seku further explained that he found himself in San Diego with no recollection of his past and was given a new name by the judge – Kwame Seku.
With his new identity, he moved to California, enrolled in college, and eventually became a teacher. Everything was going well for him until he went on a trip with his friends in 2007.
One morning, Seku was woken up by his friend who claimed that he heard him say Leslie Bright’s name in his sleep. After learning about Winston’s case, Seku found her phone number and contacted her.
Neither Leslie nor her children believed that the 65-year-old man from California was their missing father. Out of everyone, Aaron was the most skeptical about Seku’s story.
“Nobody just walks down the street and says, ‘Oh snap, I don’t know who I am,'” Aaron Bright told DNAinfo New York.
But Seku didn’t give up and continued contacting the Bright family for months. He even went to Manhattan Surrogate’s Court to get the judge to declare him to be Winston Bright. Did the judge believe him?
In his report, Seku wrote: “Winston Bright was, in fact, alive and inexplicably found himself in California with no recollection of who he was or how he got there.”
The Bright family quickly got fed up with his calls and asked him to stop contacting them. But Seku had one specific goal in mind and wasn’t planning to give up just yet.
He wanted to collect Winston’s pension from his workplace at New York Telephone Co. But, in order to do so, Seku needed to convince the judge to cancel his declaration of death.
Without any help from the Brights, Seku couldn’t do much, and in 2012, he lost his battle. The judge denied his request to vacate the declaration of Winston’s death.
Aaron got out of prison two years before Seku began contacting them and is now a personal trainer and a college student.
He believes his life would’ve been different if his father didn’t leave him.