The Case of Jonathan Kern: 23 years later

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Elizabeth Gregg (formerly Grzeszczyk) first appeared on Unsolved Mysteries in 1996. Now, over 20 years later, she continues to share her experience in the hopes of helping others.

It started back in 1994, when Elizabeth met Jonathan Kern, a well-known Formula One race driver, in a hotel in Miami, Florida. Elizabeth knew something about car racing and was at first skeptical. She recalled how Kern eventually won her over:

“And I asked a few more questions, and I said, ‘Well, what did you do before you raced cars?’ He said, ‘I was a medical doctor.’ And I said, ‘That’s right.’ I knew some background. I said, ‘Who did you race for?’ And he told me Tiero, which I knew was a British team. And I thought, ‘Wow, it really is you.’”

But in reality, the man claiming to be Jonathan Palmer was actually Jonathan Kern, a con man. Eventually, Kern charmed his way into Elizabeth’s Connecticut home. She still believed he was Jonathan Palmer, still believed he had put his career on hold to spend time with her. But Kern was apparently only interested in her money.

During his stay with Elizabeth, Kern made what he said were frequent business trips to Manhattan. He made the drive in a $125,000 Mercedes lent to him by a local dealer. He also carried Elizabeth’s ATM card, just in case of an emergency. During one trip, he called to say his wallet had been stolen. Once again, Elizabeth put her own money at Kern’s disposal.

Eventually, Kern started spending more time in Manhattan than with Elizabeth, causing her to have a complete change of heart. When he left one day, Elizabeth began calling numbers from her phone bill, matching them with names Kern had mentioned. The answers came back the same: the caller was named Jonathan Lake, not Palmer. Elizabeth was crushed.

Police said that Kern swindled some $15,000 from Elizabeth, forcing her into bankruptcy. There is still an active warrant for Kern, and should he return to the U.S. and be caught, he would be arrested. Today, Elizabeth continues to pursue the case with a Facebook page where she hopes others who may have had similar experiences can find comfort and share information.

When Kern was reached by email, he stated, “I think Ms Grzeszczyk really needs to get a life. Her accusations are exaggerated and fictitious and my family, colleagues and I are fed up to the back teeth of this attention seeker ….”

Read more of Kern’s comments and more about Elizabeth here:

You can watch the Unsolved Mysteries segment now streaming on Amazon Prime in season nine with Robert Stack and in season one with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

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