Society

Man Arrested For Identity Fraud 23 Years After Vanishing (Photos)

| by Jonathan Constante

An Indianapolis man has been arrested for identity fraud after deserting his family in 1993 and starting a new life in Florida.

Richard Hoagland, 63, disappeared from his Indianapolis home in February 1993, the Daily Mail reported. He left behind his second wife, Linda, and their two children, Matthew and Douglas. Richard  was declared legally dead in 2003.

But in July, Linda got a phone call from Pasco County, Florida, police, informing her that Richard  had been arrested for identity fraud.

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Richard had started a new life in Pasco County, taking the identity of Terry Jude Symansky, a fisherman who died in 1991. He remarried and had another child using Symansky’s name.

But Richard’s deceit would come to light when Symansky’s nephew looked up his family history on Ancestry.com. He saw that someone had used his uncle’s name to get married in 1995 -- four years after Symansky's death.

Richard was arrested and is now facing several fraud charges. His third wife, Mary Hickman, found a briefcase in their home that contained his real identity, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Hickman also found the deed to a property Richard had purchased in Louisiana in 2015 along with a key to a storage unit.

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Linda spoke to ABC’s "20/20" about how Richard called her and told her he was going to the emergency room before ultimately disappearing.

“He called me at work and told me that he was ill … and that he needed to go to the emergency room,” Linda told "20/20." “And I said, ‘Well, why don’t you just wait, and I’ll go with you?’ He said, ‘No, I don’t have time to wait.’”

Linda said she checked hospitals in the area, but couldn’t find any trace of Richard. She said she thought he would eventually return, but lost hope after years passed. She eventually remarried.

Richard had been keeping contact with his children during his disappearance, sending them birthday cards with $50 enclosed. Here is one message he wrote in a card:

I love you and miss seeing you. Let your mom help spend this money, you might want to put some away.

Maybe sometime soon we will get to see each other. I bet I won't even know you it has been so long.

Mind you mother. Bye, Dad.

The real Terry Jude Symansky was an unmarried fisherman who had no children. He died in 1991 in a freak accident. Richard​ stole his identity after the fisherman's father, Edward Symansky, died in 1994. He had rented an apartment from Edward in Palm Beach.

Pasco Police called Richard​ a “selfish coward.”

“This is a person who has lived his life destroying others,” Sheriff Chris Nocco said during a news conference.

Sources: Daily Mail, Tampa Bay Times, "20/20" / Photo credit: Pasco County Sheriff's Office via Tampa Bay Times, Pasco County Sheriff's Office via Daily Mail, ABC News via Daily Mail

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