A Canadian man who went missing from his Ontario home nearly four decades ago has turned up, alive, in Oklahoma, Canadian police revealed recently.
Ontario Provincial Police Constable Laurie Houghton said it was work done during a routine audit of old case files that tracked down Ronald Stan.
Stan disappeared after a barn fire near his property in 1977. He was 32 at the time. He was declared legally dead by courts in Canada in 1986.
Houghton wouldn’t say exactly how police were able to find Stan, but did say that technology that wasn’t available in the ‘70s brought new information to light.
“I can’t speak to his motives,” Houghton told The Toronto Star. “We were able to connect the dots.”
Stan turned up, living in Oklahoma under the name Jeff Walton Sr. He is now 69 years old and suffering from numerous health problems. His son, Jeff Walton Jr., said he had no idea his father once had another name.
“I’m still trying to put all the puzzle pieces together myself,” Walton Jr. said.
People in Ontario still remember the day Stan disappeared, including retired firefighter Jim Walsh who fought the barn fire.
“I remember that one quite well because we dug through dead pigs and so-on with our boots on, and had done our very best to find human remains,” Walsh told CTV News. “And there was none in that barn.”
Although Stan’s former Canadian wife and children were unable to be reached for comment, some family members said they knew all along Stan was still alive.
“We knew because he came up when his dad died. We saw him then,” said his uncle, Edward Stan. That was in 1997, over 10 years after Stan had been declared dead.
Jeff Walton Jr. and the rest of Stan’s American family, including his current wife and at least three grandchildren, only found out about the man’s Canadian past this month.
“It’s been tough on me, but he’s still my father. It doesn’t change the man I knew for 35 years,” the younger Walton said. “Hopefully one day he can sit down and write a book and remember all the stuff he’s been through in his life. It’d be a damn good book I’ll tell you that, just from what I’ve heard.”
He declined to discuss the specifics of his father’s disappearance or provide any possible motive. Walton Jr. also said Stan’s current American wife, Debra Proctor, filed for divorce upon hearing about the man’s past.
The Ontario Provincial Police said there were no plans to file charges in the case.