New Yorker Turns Up in Chicago, Remembers Nothing — (The Seattle Times)

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The Seattle Times

By Carlos Sadovi, Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO – It became a ritual for the family of Raymond Power Jr. to gather in the bedroom of the youngest child and pray every night for the past seven months.

There, Power’s wife, Jane; their son, Raymond III, 17; and their daughter, Laura, 11; would ask God to protect their father, wherever he was. The attorney, who hailed from New Rochelle, N.Y., vanished Aug. 1, touching off a nationwide search.

“Every time I had a thought, I was praying. I’ve never prayed so much in my life,” Jane Power said from her New York home.

The most difficult thing, she said, was trying to keep up hope in herself and in her children that her husband would return, a task made more heart-wrenching when milestones passed without the devoted family man.

He missed his 57th birthday party in August. He was a no-show when his son turned 17. Jane Power spent their 30th wedding anniversary alone, in tears.

“Since there was nothing coming back as far as finding his car or finding a body, I always kept hoping,” she said.

Power surfaced Monday at a Chicago homeless shelter, where he had been living for months as a man shelter officials knew only as Jay Tower, a man who said he could not remember anything about himself and kept asking others for help. The only clue he had was a medicine bottle for antidepressants from Stroger Hospital with the name Jay Tower on the label, a shelter official said.

After Chicago police confirmed that the man was Power, they contacted his family. His sister Susan arrived Tuesday. He was admitted into a local hospital, where he is being evaluated. His memory is a blank.

“I spoke with him on Tuesday. He just seemed very, very upset, very scared, because he doesn’t remember any of us,” Jane Power said. “It’s wonderful to have closure, but we know it’s going to be a very big challenge to try and get his memory back.”

While doctors have not determined the cause of Power’s memory loss, his wife said he had been suffering from depression and had been taking medication for two years.

She thinks he suffered post-traumatic stress after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center. He worked at the twin towers and had just walked out when the attacks occurred. That seemed to trigger the memory of his time as a soldier in Vietnam in 1968, his wife said. He received a Bronze Star and other commendations as a sergeant in the 1st Cavalry Division.

“He had walked between the two buildings 15 minutes before the plane hit,” she said. “It brought back memories of him being in Vietnam and him being the only person alive after a firefight.”

Though he still can’t remember much, she said he has told others he remembers being in a car with someone who dropped him off at the Pacific Garden’s Mission in Chicago’s Loop last summer.

The first day he disappeared, his credit card was used at several gas stations in Pennsylvania and Ohio. “Then nothing,” she said.

Police found Power’s car Monday on Chicago’s North Side.

The New York City native had no connection to Chicago, his wife said.

A man Power had befriended at the mission helped him track down his identity. The man, who would not comment, took Power to the nearby Harold Washington Library, where they logged onto the Internet and found his picture on “America’s Most Wanted” Web site.

Power’s identity was confirmed when fingerprints taken by Chicago police were matched with those on file at the New Rochelle, N.Y., Police Department, where Power was a member of the force until 1985.

Bruce Young, a partner with Babchik and Young, where Power had worked for about two years, said the last place he was seen was in a parking garage near the law firm when he was on his way to work. He said New Rochelle police combed Power’s computer and went through the firm’s files the first week he disappeared.

“We had pretty much given up hope of ever hearing about him,” Young said. “We’re just relieved that he’s found and that he’s going to be reunited with his wife and children. We’re glad that he’s OK and no one harmed him.”

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company