Man Left Living on the Streets for 30 Years Until Police Discovered His Real Identity

By: Kate Row | Published: Dec 01, 2021

Having grown up in a difficult environment, Mick Myers spent a significant amount of his adult life sleeping on the streets.

Myers’ life was once turned around by an individual deputy sheriff. A volunteer and the sheriff assisted each other in getting Myers out of harm’s way. In addition, he was able to reconnect with his mother who had been estranged from him for years. Read on to learn all about this incredible story.

Mick's Real Name Was A Mystery To Him

When Mick Myers was two years old, his family in San Leandro, CA adopted him.


In high school, Myers excelled in marching band and was a decent student. Growing up, things started to go downhill for him. Having a difficult time relating to his siblings when he was a teenager made him feel like an outsider in his family.


His Family Shunned and Rejected Him

Myers was left without a support system after his adoptive parents died. Several family members and friends drifted away from him gradually, rather than all at once.


Following his loss of job, Myers was unsure what to do with himself. He did not have any support system and was miserable.

A New Job

Although Myers was constantly shifting around, he was able to secure a job that provided him with a sense of stability. It didn’t matter that he moved constantly, he still had a schedule that he adhered to and became close to his coworkers.


Even though Myers had been homeless, he was an influential leader in the company. Despite tragedy, he led the company for a decent period of time.

He Was Left Destitute After the Accident

During the time he spent driving a truck, Myers loved what he did. However, Myers suffered a severe motor vehicle accident on the way back to his home. A car crash caused Myers to break his back, which left him in the hospital for a few weeks.


After being put in a wheelchair for a year, Myers was only able to walk with crutches after being rehabilitated. With his condition, he realized that he wouldn’t have the option to continue working as a truck driver.

Mick Was Living in Poverty in His Late 60s

California had the highest rate of homelessness in the United States in 2018. Over 554,000 Americans were reported to be without homes in February 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

While Mick was a gentleman and gave folk singing a try while out on the streets, he still barely made enough money from passers-by to afford food. He had lived on the streets for most of his life.


Jacob Swalwell Would Change Mick's Life Forever

Deputy Sheriff Jacob Swalwell and the homeless man encountered each other in Hayward, California, in November 2017. Their first encounter occurred a year prior in November 2016. At the junction, one of the places where the homeless man panhandled and played the guitar, Swalwell repeatedly asked him not to beg.

Although he had only given him warnings, the 33-year-old officer had never spoken to him. The only thing he knew was that he was a homeless man who begged often on Foothill Boulevard.


There Is Power In Compassion

Swalwell was planning to issue a citation for continuing to panhandle on the corner despite the warning. The two men began talking when they realized the homeless man had no identification to show.

The homeless man told the deputy about his family, disability, and life on the street during the interview. In the absence of an ID, the man could not claim social security benefits. The inability to claim benefits made his situation of being homeless even more precarious. He has lived without documentation for most of his life.


Still Hunting for Work

Even though Myers was injured, he knew he had to keep working to survive. Even so, despite having a good physical condition, he was unable to do many jobs as a result of his back.

Although he applied for several jobs, some required him to stand for extended periods of time, which would have been very uncomfortable for him. During that time, he worked in the manufacturing and food service industries as well as the Department of Motor Vehicles of the District of Columbia.


Offering a Supportive Hand

As Myers explained, even though he really wanted an ID, he didn’t have the proper documentation to get one. He could not receive any government assistance because of this.

Myers was deeply touched by Swalwell’s generosity, 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.” Swalwell’s generosity led to the beginning of their friendship.


What is the Point of Helping?

The question is, why did Swalwell personally help Myers rather than anyone else in all of California’s homeless population? Swallow claims that, in the end, Myers was being sincere and honest to him, an experience that many police officers never get to experience on the streets.

Myers’ refusal to waste any of the money he made on alcohol or drugs also contributed to Swalwell’s belief that he was telling the truth. One of the nearby restaurants was the only thing he could afford, so he spent all his money on fast food.


Swalwell Goes Directly To Work

Swalwell helped contact the right people and get Myers the right help. First, on his journey, he stopped at the Department of Motor Vehicles to learn about Myers’ records and when they were lost. Even though Myers once worked for the DMV, it seems that his records were deleted even though he had been employed by the DMV.

In order to receive his government ID, Myers would need to obtain a birth certificate and prove that he was a California resident. Despite knowing the difficulties this process would entail, Swalwell asked, “How does a homeless person come up with two forms of residency?”


Others Helped Pitch In For Myers' Recovery

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department and the pastor of Swalwell’s church assisted him at his next stop. They were able to provide Myers with proof of residency by signing the necessary documents. During the same period, Swalwell began to examine Myers’ birth certificate, following a trail of paper leading him back to the hospital where he had been born.

As a result, the deputy obtained a birth certificate and turned in paperwork to the DMV that allowed the case to be processed. After going through countless hoops and submitting lots of paperwork, Myers finally acquired a photo ID in December 2017.


His Secret Identity

Myers’ birth certificate reveals that Mick is not his given name, but rather a shortened version of his middle name. He was unaware that his real name at birth was Gordon Michael Oakley. Having picked up on the story, the local media reached out to Swalwell to get more details about the case.

After assisting a homeless person off the street, the police officer quickly became the center of attention. In light of what we have just heard, this story has helped all of us to better understand what other types of assistance Mr. Myers may require.


Mark Askins

Mark Askins was immediately captivated by Myers’ story when he heard it. As a private investigator, he is well acquainted with the field. During his time volunteering for Miracle Messages, he helped reunite long-lost relatives and friends with homeless people.

Swalwell offered to help Myers with the search of potentially finding long family members, as he was aware of the difficulties he would face. It would greatly increase Myers’ chances of actually finding a place to live if he could find a willing family member to help him get back on his feet. This company could be of great assistance to them.


Myers Never Spoke to Anyone Outside the Family

A lot of homeless people do not seem to be able to get in touch with their families or friends. Some people seek help from volunteers like Askins for a variety of reasons, including shame, insufficient education, limited access to technology, and mental disabilities.

Even if you wanted to locate Myers, it was impossible since he fell off the grid, just like countless other homeless people before. Aside from that, he wasn’t up to date with the latest technology and hadn’t used anything like the Internet or cell phones since the 1980s. Thus, he was even more out of touch with the world.


Gathering information

Mark Askins had no problem getting to work once Swalwell provided him with the necessary information. He started searching through the records at the Alameda County Courthouse with only his name, date, place of his birth, and the name of his mother.

It is now standard practice to meticulously record a newborn’s information in a computer database immediately after birth. Prior to the 1950s, this practice was not common. The information they wrote down was not as organized as it is now, even though it was in fact recorded. Numerous records from the first half of the 20th century have not yet been digitized and are therefore inaccessible to the public.


They Found Useful Information

Due to Askins’ persistence, he eventually succeeded. At the courthouse, he stumbled upon a case file pertaining to a young woman named Marie Pauline Oakley, who had married a man named Wiley Albert Oakley. Mick Myers was the name given to the child the couple had in Alameda after a small wedding in Reno.

Following the annulment of their marriage, the couple placed their child up for adoption. Myers’ biological father had long since passed away, but Askins found out about him in no time at all.


Trying to Locate His Mother

After learning the identity of Myers’ biological mother, it was time to find out more about his mother’s story. Based on her age, it is likely that she died. A few weeks of research led Askins to discover that Marie Pauline Oakley lived in Eureka, California.

Askins made a bold move by attempting to call the number in hopes that it would go through. After answering the phone, he found a woman who appeared to be elderly. At the age of 85, Mrs. Oakley, also known by her middle name Pauline, was still alive!


Understanding Why The Adoption Took Place

Askins did not take very long to mention Myers to Pauline. Having wondered for a long time what had happened to him, she was surprised to learn her son was still alive. Pauline explained that Myers, known then as Gordon, was born with a hole in his stomach, a life-threatening condition.

Despite working multiple jobs, she could no longer pay off the medical bills, despite her extra work. To ensure that his chances of thriving in this world were as good as possible, she made a difficult decision to give him up for adoption.


The Reunion Between a Mother and Her Son

Myers’ adoptive parents actually attended the same church as Pauline. Despite having second thoughts about her decision, Pauline remained firm for the sake of her child.

Pauline was eager to reconnect with her long-lost son as soon as Askins contacted her about Myers. Despite their first phone call taking place in March of 2018, Myers and Pauline continued to communicate.


Visitation With His Mother

Several weeks after speaking on the phone with his mother for the first time, Myers, Askins, and Swalwell flew in a small plane to Eureka to meet her. He had no memory of his birth mother as he was adopted at the age of two.

Myers was greeted by Shannon, his niece, at the airport as they landed, another pleasant surprise. Shannon ended up driving Myers, Askins, and Swalwell to Pauline Oakley’s mansion.


The Moment of Truth

Myers encountered his birth mother for the very first time since he was two years old. The two people embraced each other long and deeply despite not seeing one another in over 60 years.

Neither mother nor son had ever imagined that they would ever meet again. Both wept in each other’s arms. Since Myers had lived on the streets for so long, he was particularly touched by this moment.


Reckoning With the Past

Their 50 years apart culminated in a seated reunion after their embrace. The sight of Pauline pulling out a couple of old photo albums and showing Myers pictures of him as a baby, as well as pictures of his mother and siblings, was pretty amusing. The realization that his mother had also led a tough life wasn’t hard for him to comprehend.

In his own life story, Myers spoke about all the things he was thankful for, as well as how much he loved his adoptive family. In addition to discussing his estranged adoptive relatives, he also discussed many struggles he had also endured.


She Was Shocked By What She Heard

Over time, Pauline heard about all of the hardships her son had faced during the course of his life, and it was devastating for her. It was very difficult for her to accept that he wasn’t doing well after spending all those years hoping for the best.

Her teary-eyed reaction makes her feel nostalgic when she thought of her time with her siblings and their children, she told 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.”


What It Means to Have a Family Reunion

As a result of the death of his adoptive parents, Myers finally felt accepted and loved by his new-found birth family. As well as his mother, he also had siblings, nieces, nephews, and many more relatives than he ever imagined he would have, including a sister. They welcomed him with open arms.

When Myers met his biological family, he moved in with his mother and was quickly welcomed as a family member. With the help of his insurer and his new friend, deputy Jacob Swalwell, he was able to apply for social security benefits.


They Were Having the Time of Their Lives

Pauline and her son were of great assistance to officers Swalwell and Askins. The first time Swalwell entered the house, Pauline requested that he turn around. Pauline said, “I wanted to see where your wings are because you’ve brought my son home to me, you are an angel.”

There is no doubt that this family was mean to reunite. Myers replied affirmatively, “I’ve always wondered all these years why things turned out the way they did. This wondering has disappeared now.” This sweet reunion was only made possible by the effort and help of Jacob Swalwell and Mark Askins.


If It Hadn't Been for the Help of Others, the Project Wouldn't Have Been Possible

Without the assistance of Alameda County Sheriff’s Department officers and Miracle Messages officers, this reunion would not have been possible. We should keep this in mind every time we recount the story of Myers’ reunion with his mother and other members of his biological family.

Funds were raised so that Myers could meet his mother and get back on his feet. Over $2,000 was raised through a GoFundMe campaign to help him with food, a place to live, clothing, and other necessities. It truly is a wholesome story.

In the next story, we will see exactly how one act of kindness can greatly enhance the quality of life for a homeless person!


Jose Antonia Suffered from Psychological Problems

Having grown up in Palma, Spain, where he was born and raised, Jose Antonia spent most of his adult life living on the streets. While he had been trained in a technical field, his decision to end up on the streets was not the result of a lack of effort.

Unfortunately, he was suffering from a mental illness that made it difficult for him to lead a life that was conducive to him working full-time and establishing a routine that would work for him. In spite of his poor financial situation, he would often live on the streets.


A Well-known Member of the Community

For almost 25 years, Jose was Palma’s local symbol. Locals familiar with his presence would glance at him every now and then, but usually just went about their daily lives without paying him much attention. Jose was not well liked by the locals, but a group called Juan grew to symbolize the locals’ affection for him.

The people caring for Jose began to come up with a plan for getting him back on his feet, even though he didn’t know what their plans were. Until he was sure that everything would work out, he did not want to get his hopes up.


Earning Money Was His Main Goal

When Jose was 30 years old, his home was lost to fire, and now he lives on the streets without any shelter. Even so, he continued to make as much money as he could. He did not give up completely. In addition to working menial jobs, he even worked as a parking attendant in Mallorca for a while.

He spent most of his limited income on food instead of providing a roof over his head. Choices of survival have to be made when you’re living off a low income.


It Was Impossible for Him to Refuse the Offer

With almost 25 years of being homeless, Jose was used to living on the streets. Due to the conditions he lived in, he sounded much older than his actual age. In addition to the long hair on his head, he had a shaggy beard on his face, which gave him an old-fashioned look.

Salva reached out to him despite all of that, hoping to be able to help him find a solution to his less-than-ideal situation. Jose received a complimentary makeover from Salva’s salon, ‘La Salvajeria’. Salva offered Jose a makeover totally free of charge.


It Was Time for a Complete Redesign

Salva realized Jose would have to change completely if he were to succeed in his field again, since Jose struggled to fit into a professional career. If he wants to be taken seriously again, he will need more than a haircut and shave.

Salva would cover the makeover, which attracted Jose’s attention. After accepting Salva’s offer, Jose was delighted. This was an opportunity he had been waiting for for a long time.


Making The First Move

As soon as Jose entered the salon, he felt extremely uncomfortable. His experience of living on the streets for 25 years prevented him from entering and enjoying such an institution. The fact that he wasn’t paying made him feel out of place in such an upscale hotel.

In spite of his considerations, he accepted the offer because he was considering a change in his life. As he knew the value of this, he calmed himself down.


Say Goodbye to the Mirrors

Prior to starting the transformation, Jose stared at himself in awe, knowing that he would no longer recognize himself. Jose was only able to see the final results of his makeover as all mirrors in the salon were removed for the reveal.

Jose requests, “Leave the doors over the mirror open for the moment so I can see myself for the last time like this, then close them to see if when they open again, it’s as if something else really opened up in my life, like a symbol.”


Feeling Good and Looking Good

At the time he entered the salon, his hair reached his shoulders. He also had an unkempt beard, which made him appear unprofessional.

The past 25 years Jose has not been concerned with how he looked. Instead, he has worried about eating, sleeping, and surviving.


Jose Was Anxious

As soon as Salva began shaving his hair and beard, Jose began talking about how nervous he was about the process. Despite the fact that he had approved the makeover, he was worried about how it would turn out, and he was also concerned about the unknown.

Despite all the worry he had, he was confident he would enjoy this makeover and might even be able to regain control over his life. The fact that he never imagined he would be able to experience something like this is one reason why it was so meaningful to him.


The Change In His Beard's Texture And Shape

The first thing Jose changed about his appearance was his beard. Due to living on the streets, his hair was dry and brittle, making him appear especially untidy

He received a deep conditioning treatment that moisturized his beard and brought it back to life. His makeover was complete not long after. The excitement in his voice could not be described.


An Irrefutable Difference

The stylist was amazed at how well Jose cleaned up. His total transformation from the man who walked into the salon earlier left everyone speechless.

His previously unkempt appearance has been replaced by new hair and a clean beard. The last thing Jose needed to do was examine his new look.


An Opportunity Arose

Following 25 years as a homeless man, Jose realized a makeover granted him a fresh start. Jose might not have been able to achieve his dream without this makeover.

The new appearance pleased him greatly, and he was determined to maximize it. A new look revived his hope after losing it many years ago. Having a fresh, new appearance was his chance to turn things around in his life.


At His Favorite Spots, He Wasn't Recognized

In a bar that he had visited several times, Jose walked around and showed off his good look to his friends. His beer was given without him saying a word since they didn’t know who he was. When Jose asked the waiter why he had not recognized him, the waiter was stunned beyond comprehension.

His friend responded, “I do know you now!” Jose was no longer a homeless man, and people knew more about him now than they ever did before.


Everyone Was Supportive

A businessman happened to be walking by as Jose was helping to park cars at the restaurant. After catching a glimpse of Jose, he recognized him and was shocked. He couldn’t put into words how great Jose looked.

He walked up to Jose and hugged him tightly because he was excited about his future. Additionally, he congratulated Jose and expressed his support.


Jose is No Longer Homeless

Since Jose’s incredible transformation, his life has changed dramatically in many ways. His situation has greatly improved now that he has a part-time job, looks better than most people, and is receiving financial assistance. The greatest thing that has ever happened to Jose is that he is no longer homeless.

He now owns a home after living without a bed for over 25 years. In order to make his life even better, he is on the hunt for a full-time job now that he has the confidence more than ever to reclaim his life thanks to the generosity of a salon and their simple makeover.