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Fullerton homeless man reunited with former common law wife, gets new start

August 15, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Kenneth Baen has a lot to smile about. The 61 year old has come a long way from sleeping outside a library in Fullerton just one month ago.

Baen is an articulate man who was a biomedical engineer for 25 years, until he started drinking. He ended up on the streets after losing his home and his common law wife of 18 years.

"She was with me the entire time that I had problems with my drinking," Baen said.

His former wife, who only wanted to be identified as Susie, lost track of Baen four years ago around the time he left and later became homeless. She feared he had died until a friend called after seeing him in an Eyewitness News story on homelessness.

"Thank god he's still alive," Susie said, recalling the first thought she had when her friend told her the news.

Cpl. John DeCaprio works as a homeless liaison officer with Fullerton police. Susie told him she wanted to return the wallet Baen left behind years ago that contained documents needed to get a job. So DeCaprio orchestrated a reunion.

"Susie called me and said, 'My common law husband, I saw him on TV of 18 years and I want to help,'" said DeCaprio.

Baen appeared at the meeting 40 pounds thinner and now sober. Susie was anxious, but said she felt compelled to help.

"He's a human being," she said. "He shouldn't be sleeping on the streets."

The two were relieved to see each other after so long.

"I can't tell you how fantastic it is," said Baen, wiping tears from his face. "I really can't."

A reserve Fullerton police officer donated money for Baen's clothing, and a local business has also donated a P.O. Box for Baen to use.

"It's kind of overwhelming," said DeCaprio. "This is just a combination of people basically on the outside that care enough to be a part of this."

Baen, who becomes eligible for social security benefits next month, hopes to soon be able to rent an apartment and find work.

"I have hope now, I really do," he said.


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