A man named Terry Symansky died in 1991, but he didn't let a little thing like that stop him -- he went on to get a pilot's license, a mortgage, and a new family, all in just a few years after his supposed death. Meanwhile, another family was searching for answers about their missing husband and father. You might think you see where we're headed here, but this story has more twists and turns than you realize!
The Hoaglands seemed to be a typical Midwestern American family. Linda and Richard were a happily married couple with two young sons, Douglas and Matthew. Both parents worked, making enough money to take the family on extravagant vacations, but there was something amiss. The father, Richard, was beginning to change.
Richard had a secret, and the stress of hiding it was beginning to manifest itself. The family was very close-knit, but Richard began to isolate himself. While Linda and the kids spent quality time together, Richard would go to his room alone. Perhaps this foreshadowed his unbelievable next step.
Richard called Linda at work to say he was headed to the ER. He assured her that it was not serious enough to warrant her leaving early. After work, Linda picked up one son from daycare and was shocked to find that Richard had left her other son home alone.
Over the course of two phone calls, Richard made the following statements: "I can't live this way anymore. I feel you would be better off without me. I don't want to go to jail. I'm never coming back." On February 10, 1993, Richard disappeared without a trace.
Although he disappeared, Hoagland faithfully sent each of his sons a birthday card every year, and he even made intermittent phone calls to his wife. The calls and letters could be traced back to various countries, including Venezuela and Aruba, but Hoagland was eventually seen a lot closer to home.
In Zephyrhills, Florida, Richard Hoagland got married and began to raise a second family. Meanwhile, his first wife Linda lost everything and was left drowning in debt. She was under ongoing criminal investigation because police suspected her involvement in Richard's disappearance. Did Hoagland really get away with his actions?
Back to our mystery man from the beginning. Terry Symansky's nephew was doing genealogical research when he discovered that his Uncle Terry had been married posthumously. Further research revealed Symansky's name was on a mortgage and a pilot's license all obtained after his supposed death in 1991. Richard Hoagland stole Terry Symansky's identity, but how?
Hoagland rented a house from Terry Symansky's father. Hoagland found Symansky's death certificate and used the information to get Symansky's birth certificate. Next, he obtained a driver's license in Alabama, where the rules were laxer. Hoagland has all the information he needed to commit identity theft.
Hoagland has been arrested for identity theft, but he leaves behind a trail of hurt. Three sons are without their father, and two wives are without their husband. He has reparations and back child support to pay, and its feared that his second family will be footed with the bill.
Linda Isler (the maiden name she goes by) has expressed joy that her former husband is being held accountable, but she and her sons remain bitter about the emotional trauma and poverty they suffered due to Richard. Richard has never explained why he left. No one wins in this situation.