CHICAGO (CBS) — The case of a misidentified man that caused the wrong family to make life-and-death decisions about his care has been solved. Officials have determined it was Elisha Brittman who was admitted to Mercy Hospital in April.
The family that made a decision to take Brittman off a ventilator later learned their relative, Alfonso Bennett, was actually alive.
Brittman has a long criminal record, but the circumstances surrounding his death remain unknown. Police have launched a death investigation and want to learn why he was found under a car, naked, and with no identification, on the morning of April 29 on the 4700 block of South Wabash.
Still, there are also unanswered questions about what led the wrong family to Brittman’s hospital bed.
On May 13, Rosie Brooks got a phone call from an employee from Mercy Hospital, who said her brother was in intensive care.
Brooks rushed to Mercy with her sister Brenda Bennett-Johnson.
“They had him on the ventilator, and they had a tube in his mouth,” Brooks said.
They both looked at the man in the hospital bed, who had been brought in as John Doe, and said they couldn’t identify the man.
“They kept saying CPD identified this person as our brother,” Bennett-Johnson said.
Brooks said hospital staff told them the man had been badly beaten, especially in the face.
Alfonso Bennett has a background and is rarely in touch with his four sisters. Bennett-Johnson said a nurse told her police identified him through mugshots
The sisters said the man responded to commands by raising his hand, but never opened his eyes. Soon he started to languish.
The sisters signed papers to take him off a ventilator and he soon died.
They purchased a casket and a suit and made funeral arrangements.
Around the same time, they received a phone call from one of their other sisters.
“She called my sister Yolanda to say, ‘It’s a miracle! It’s a miracle!'” said Brooks.
“‘Brenda! Brenda! It’s Alfonso! It’s Alfonso! I said, ‘You’re kidding!’ I could have almost had a heart attack,” Bennett-Johnson said.
Alfonso Bennett was alive and well and had just walked through her front door.
Sources told CBS 2 that police only take fingerprints when a person commits a crime or is taken to the morgue, which ultimately happened in this case but not before Bennett’s family had to go through this very unusual situation.