Monday, December 05, 2005

12/05/05 He was my Dad--Conclusion

“He was just a homeless man.”

That’s what Todd Bruchnak was told when he asked the coroner’s office in Utah why his family was never notified of his father's death at anytime during the 9 years authorities there were aware of it. To add to the pain, they also did not know what became of his remains. There was a pauper’s grave there which contained approximately 200 urns. These urns contained ashes, all that was left of these persons. Alex’s remains might be among the 200, but they are not sure. The only thing they can tell Todd is that they cremated his father.

So, unlike Pat, he will not be able to bring his loved one home, ever.

Throughout his fruitless search, Todd was told things like: “You’re not trying hard enough.” or “Maybe he just doesn’t want to be found.” He was appalled at the lack of concern. On two occasions, had authorities done as they should, Todd would have had his answers and would have never had to do his lengthy search. On one occasion, Alex was still alive.

In May of 1995, Alex was ticketed for a minor offense in Las Vegas. Did LE there look him up in the NCIC at all? If they had, they would have seen that he was entered as missing, and one would think they would have contacted the LE (law enforcement) in MI, but they did not. Alex slipped through the system’s cracks. The next time this happened was upon his death.

The LE in Utah was able to take fingerprints from Alex’ body. The FBI then provided them with information about his identity, but no one made any effort to contact MI LE or the family. A search for the family name would not have been a difficult task, given that the Bruchnak family name was very uncommon. Utah LE, we assume, did not check the NCIC for Alex, nor did they make any official report about him. His name was entered in a paper ledger, and that was the extent of the work done for a dead homeless man.

Common sense would have us believe that on both of these occasions one LE agency would have contacted the other to inform them of their findings. Our heart would tell us that surely someone could take a few minutes to check a database and make an official report so that a family could have an answer.

Todd would like to be able to find out where his father’s remains are, but at this time, it doesn’t appear there are any answers. He is angry, and rightfully so.

“Injustice is just the tip of the iceberg, Not only is it an injustice that his remains cannot be located, but that no one seems to care. It has taken over 9 years for my brothers and me to have this one answer…,” Todd said.

I am going to ask for two things in respect to this series. One, is that we can find a good investigative reporter who can uncover the truth in regards to both Bill and Alex’ stories. Perhaps there could be an answer for Todd that will enable him to bring his father back home.

My second request will be discussed in Tuesday’s post.

Since we completed Bill and Pat’s story, (A Love Story) Pat decided to write to The Tennessean, the Nashville newspaper. She asked them to take a look at the story on the blog to see if they would be interested in doing a report on this subject matter.

This is the response Pat received:

“Ms. Pellom,

I'm sorry for your loss. This isn't a story we would publish, but you may want to consider taking out a paid obituary by calling that desk at 615-259-8808.

Best regards,


I think it would have been much better for them to not have responded at all, rather to respond in such a manner. If they had truly read the story, they would know that Bill was buried many months ago. If Pat or the family wanted to pay for an obituary, they would have done so already. Not only do they reject Pat, they then turn around and try to sell her newspaper space.

And why isn’t it a story they would publish? Is it because it’s about a missing homeless man who died? Is the value of life tied to career and social status? Do their stories not cry out that we demand and receive an overhaul of the systems in place, the systems that failed both families?

Is Pat’s love just a missing then found deceased homeless man?
Is Todd’s father just a missing then found deceased homeless man?

They told you the answers to those questions. Now we need to tell the world.

( is the email address of the head of The Tennessean for any interested persons)

We’ll continue with our series on Tuesday.


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