Crime
Crime

Man Assumed Dead Was Living Secret Life Under New Name

| by Michael Doherty

An Indiana father of four who disappeared in 1993 and was declared dead in 2003 is reported to have been alive and living under a different name in Florida and has been arrested for identity theft.

Richard Hoagland disappeared from Indiana in 1993, leaving behind four children from two marriages, and by 2003 Hoagland was declared dead by authorities. Police say that in reality, Hoagland was living in Florida as Terry Jude Symansky. The real Symansky was a fisherman who drowned in 1991, according to Newser.

Hoagland, 63, married again under Symansky's name, raised a son, worked several jobs and bought real estate. The man's secret life was discovered after the real Symansky's nephew, who was doing family research on Ancestry.com, discovered his uncle had married years after his death.

Symansky's nephew went to authorities, who have arrested Hoagland on a charges of fraudulent use of personal identification.

"This is a selfish coward," said Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco. "This is a person who has lived his life destroying others."

Nocco said Hoagland's Florida family, including his wife, Mary Symansky, and the couple's teenage son, were shocked to discover the man's true identity. Authorities believe they did not have any idea about Hoagland's past.

After Mary learned her husband's true identity, she found documents listing his real name in a briefcase in the family's attic in Zephyrhills, along with a deed to property that Hoagland had purchased in Louisiana in 2015 and a key to a storage unit that police intend to search, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Hoagland's second wife in Indiana told authorities the reason Hoagland had fled from Indiana was that he had stolen millions of dollars and was wanted by the FBI, a claim police are currently investigating. Hoagland said he was simply trying to get away from his second wife.

Hoagland had once lived with Symansky's father, and found a 1991 death certificate which he had used to acquire a birth certificate from Ohio, according to deputies. The real Symansky had been born in Cleveland.

After he had the birth certificate, police say Hoagland applied for an Alabama driver's license, which he then used to obtain a driver's license in Florida. With the fake identification, authorities say, Hoagland was able to live as Terry Symanksy for more than two decades.

It was not immediately clear what the ramifications of Hoagland's identity theft would be for his Florida family, but Texas Tech University Law Professor Terry Beyer said that the property that the couple shared should be safe, since Hoagland was a living person who signed legal documents, so a judge may consider "Terry Symansky" as a pseudonym.

Source: Newser, Tampa Bay Times / Photo credit: WFLA via Newser

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