Philip Staufen He can speak French and read Latin. He is probably British. But apart from that, "Philip Staufen" knows nothing about himself. Since being mugged in Toronto two years ago, his past has been a blank. And no one has come forward to identify him.
"Staufen" stumbled into Toronto general hospital with a bloody face, a damaged nose, a British accent with perhaps a hint of Yorkshire in it, and very little else. No wallet, no identification and no idea who he was. His hair was dyed blond and his clothes were from brands available anywhere in the world, with no identifying labels. When the hospital authorities insisted he provide a date of birth and name, any name, before they could treat him, he came up with the first name that flashed across his mind, Philip Staufen, and the first date he could think of, June 7 1975.
After almost two years of searching the English-speaking world for traces of the man's true identity, Detective Stephen Bone now believes the name may be a red herring. "I've had his fingerprints and photographs sent all over the world. We had a publicity campaign in Yorkshire, and we've had his picture sent to Australia, where I'm told it was published. The results have all been negative."
A year and a half later, Staufen is no closer to knowing who he is and where he comes from. He has found out a few things about himself; that he can speak French and Italian, and read Latin. Bone took him to an academic linguist, who declared him probably British, with a "public school accent" and possible remnants of a northern brogue, most likely Yorkshire. But beyond that is a great black abyss.
Staufen said he spends much of his time in a public library reading sonnets in Latin. He has nothing else to do. "I have been left in a situation of half-abandonment for 15 months now, having to live on $525 [250] a month and having as alternatives only suicide or becoming a criminal."
The Staufen case has become one of the most baffling amnesia cases in living memory. Where did he acquire his language skills and his mastery of Latin? Why does there seem to be no one looking for him? How did he end up on the streets of Toronto, and how did he lose his memory?
Until someone recognises "Philip Staufen", the mystery will continue.