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'Missing' Airman Found Living Double Life—40 Years Later

Jeffrey Michels, 64, picked up in Florida, will be charged with desertion for ditching Air Force
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2017 10:35 AM CDT

(Newser) – Jeffrey Michels disappeared from an Air Force base in northern North Dakota on a summer day in 1977—and was found last week in Florida living a double life, Fox News reports. Michels, 64, was arrested Oct. 12 on desertion charges filed against him after he went missing from Minot Air Force Base near the Canadian border. Police say the former airman had taken the name Jeffrey Lantz, married, and had kids, per WFTV. In 1998, "Lantz" applied for a business license and started a construction company, Atlantic Development Corporation. Michels, originally from Ohio, was nabbed after the Facebook group Veteran Doe posted his photo in July, nearly 40 years to the day after he failed to report for duty. (That photo has since been taken down.)

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The site calls "attention to the many missing veteran/active duty cases and unidentified person cases where there is a possible military connection." The Air Force hasn't explained how Michels was found, per the Miami Herald. But Seminole County authorities identified him by a scar on his left leg near the ankle. There's no statute of limitations on desertion, so Michels will stand trial in a military court, per the IB Times. He was turned over to the custody of the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations. Why Michels walked away from the remote base is unknown, but the Herald notes it's known for its nuclear missile silos and hard winters. (One of the first women Army combat engineers was accused of desertion.)

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