Man Declared Dead in 1986 Found Alive

Family members didn't know Ronald Stan's real story

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 26, 2014 4:50 PM CDT

(Newser) – In 1977, a man went missing after a barn fire in Ontario; in 1986, with no sign of him, authorities declared Ronald Stan dead. Turns out they were wrong: He has now turned up again after decades, and he's living in Oklahoma, CTV reports. Stan went missing at age 32. He's now known as Jeff Walton, and he's 69, CTV notes. Police say they can't offer information as to why he went missing. "I’m still trying to put all the puzzle pieces together myself," Walton's son, Jeff Jr., tells the Toronto Star. Walton Jr. learned of his father's previous identity this month from police; his stepmother hadn't known, either.

One uncle in Canada, however, does appear to have seen Stan in 1997: "He came up when his dad died," the uncle says. How police found him isn't entirely clear; the case was reopened in a routine audit, the Star notes, and new police methods solved it. "There's a lot that's available to us now for investigative tools that wasn't available to us back in 1977. As a result, we were able to connect the dots, essentially, and lead us to the state of Oklahoma," an officer tells that paper, per the New York Daily News. "It’s been tough on me, but he’s still my father," says the son of Walter/Stan. "It doesn’t change the man I knew for 35 years." No criminal charges are expected. (Elsewhere, police suspect a champion boat racer faked his own death.)

A police officer stands outside an Ontario courthouse in this file photo.
A police officer stands outside an Ontario courthouse in this file photo.   (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)
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