When Richard Hoagland fled Indiana in 1993, leaving behind four children from two families, he was considered missing and in 2003 declared dead. In reality, police say he was alive and well, living in Florida as Terry Jude Symansky, an unmarried Florida fisherman with no kids who drowned in 1991—and whom Hoagland knew about thanks to having met his father. Hoagland, who Fox 13 Tampa Bay reports is 63, is accused of spending more than 20 years in Florida disguised as Symansky, marrying again, raising a son, working odd jobs, and buying real estate. But it all came to a head when the real Symansky's nephew was doing research on Ancestry.com and discovered a marriage license associated with his dead uncle's name, reports the Tampa Bay Times.
But it doesn't stop there. Hoagland's second wife in Indiana tells deputies that he said he needed to disappear because he was wanted by the FBI for stealing millions, a claim local officials are investigating, while Hoagland himself says he was just trying to leave his wife. Hoagland's Florida family appears to be in shock, with Mary Symansky saying she has now found his real identification docs in a briefcase in the attic, as well as the deed to property her husband bought in Louisiana in 2015 and a key to a storage unit. "This is a selfish coward," the sheriff says. "This is a person who has lived his life destroying others." One law professor calls the case "beyond fascinating" because most identity thieves set out to commit new crimes. (Very few identity theft arrests involve acquaintances.)