“Mom, I have something I need to tell you. I used to be somebody else.”
Those were the words that five-year-old Ryan Hammons told his mother as he was being tucked into bed five years ago, according to NBC News’s Today.
Ryan reportedly began having vivid nightmares at age four. The next year, Ryan told his mother he wanted to “go home” to Hollywood, and related stories about meeting actress Rita Hayworth, taking trips to Paris, and dancing on Broadway. The boy said he had once lived on a street with the word “rock” in it.
“His stories were so detailed and they were so extensive, that it just wasn’t like a child could have made it up,” the boy’s mother, Cyndi Hammons, told Today. “Then we found the picture, and it changed everything.”
Hammons had gone to the library to investigate her son’s claims when she happened upon a book that contained a still photo of two men from the 1932 film Night After Night, starring Mae West.
“She turns to the page in the book, and I say ‘that’s me, that’s who I was,’” now ten-year-old Ryan told Today.
Cyndi Hammons could not find out any more information about the man, so for help, she reportedly approached Dr. Jim Tucker, an associate professor of psychiatry and neurobehavioral sciences at the University of Virginia, who has spent more than ten years studying the phenomenon of reincarnation memories in children.
Tucker helped Hammons identify the man in the photo as Marty Martyn, a small-time actor who later became a big-time Hollywood agent. Astonishingly, after examining Ryan, Tucker was reportedly able to confirm 55 details about Martyn’s life that the boy had provided. Martyn had danced on Broadway, traveled to Paris, and even lived on a street with the word “rock” in it: 825 North Roxbury Dr. in Beverly Hills.
Ryan was also able to provide details about Martyn’s family that even the man’s own kin had not known. Martyn’s daughter had grown up believing her father had one sister, but Ryan told Tucker that he had had two. Tucker was able to confirm that finding. Ryan also correctly provided details about the number of times Martyn was married, how many children he had, and details about Martyn’s profession.
“If you look at a picture of a guy with no lines in a movie, and then tell me about his life, I don’t think many of us would have come up with Marty Martyn life,” Tucker told Today. “Yet Ryan provided many details that really did fit with his life.”
In the most bizarre instance of a potential connection, Tucker thought Ryan may have provided an incorrect detail about Martyn’s life when he said he “didn’t see why God would let you get to be 61 and then make you come back as a baby.” Tucker found that Martyn had died in 1964 at the age of 59, not 61.
However, after examining old census records, Tucker discovered that Martyn had been born in 1903, not 1905 as his birth certificate claimed, making Ryan’s statement eerily correct.
Tucker told Today that he has over 2,500 records of children who can “remember” details about a previous life in his office. Tucker’s mentor, Ian Stevenson, began collecting cases in 1961, and Tucker took over the work after Stevenson died in 2007.
“These cases demand an explanation,” Tucker said. “We can’t just write them off or explain them away as some sort of normal cultural thing.”