When things got boring in my day-to-day reporting, I used to go to the office of the Maricopa County Public Fiduciary and ask staff members if they had any missing-heir cases they wanted me to work on.

In 1981, a staffer there referred me to a local bank official who was in charge of a particularly interesting case. After a year of searching, a private eye and an attorney had struck out in trying to find Arthur Jeffrey Kinnan. Kinnan was about to be declared dead.

Using the phone, I found him in two days. I first interviewed relatives of Kinnan in various parts of the United States. One of them, in Oklahoma, said she thought Kinnan had been somewhere in the Pacific Northwest and that he was “kind of a hippie.”  

I put out calls to various public agencies in the Pacific Northwest, and also called a friend of mine, Jack Swanson, who was a reporter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. I asked him to do a clip check in the morgue for Arthur Jeffrey Kinnan.

Frankly, I thought it was a very long shot, but Swanson, amazingly, turned up an old news story about a custody battle over Kinnan when he was just a baby.

From that story, I got the name of Hugh Miracle, an attorney who had been involved in the custody case.  When I reached Miracle, he put me in touch with another guy who told me he thought Kinnan was in Portland. I then called Portland Police.

They told me they’d just had Kinnan in custody a couple of days before on a failure-to-appear on a weapons-possession charge, but had let him go.  It would be tough to find him, they said, because he was a bit of a street person.

I began to call everyone with the last name of Kinnan in the Seattle phone book, and reached an ex-prizefighter named Maurice Kinnan who said he lived six blocks from Arthur Kinnan, who was renting a room.

I asked the boxer to tell the heir I was looking for him, and the next day I got a call from Arthur Kinnan, who collected a $65,000 estate.