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Missing Indianapolis man found living under dead man's identity 23 years later

Posted: 9:12 PM, Oct 28, 2016
Updated: 2016-10-29 07:57:30Z

INDIANAPOLIS -- An Indiana man who went missing over 20 years ago was found living under a new identity in Florida after the family of the deceased man he was pretending to be started looking into their genealogy. 

Richard Hoagland disappeared on February 10, 1993. 

He and his wife, Linda Iseler, lived in Indianapolis with their two children. 

Iseler told ABC News' "20/20" they were happy, that is, until the day Hoagland went missing.

On the day he disappeared Hoagland called his wife saying he was ill and needed to go to the hospital. 

"He called me at work and told me that he was ill... and that he needed to go to the emergency room," Iseler told ABC. 

Iseler said she called all of the hospitals in the area, but could find no trace of her husband. 

"He didn't pack any clothes. It was cold. It was in February. He didn't take a coat," Iseler said. 

That summer, his two sons both received birthday cards from their father with $50 inside. But that was the last time they heard from Hoagland. 

After 10 years, Hoagland was declared dead. And Iseler moved on with her life, she even remarried. 

And then, this past summer, Iseler was contacted by a detective in Florida. 

The detective told Iseler that Hoagland had been living under the name Terry Symansky, who was a fisherman killed in a boating accident in 1991. 

Police said Hoagland told them he came to Florida in 1993, and rented a room from Symansky's father. In that room he found Symansky's death certificate and stole it. He then applied for a birth certificate and a driver's license and started his identity as Terry Symansky. 

Since then, Hoagland had bought a home in Zephyrhills, Florida. He had married again, and had two children with his new wife. 

And he might have gotten away with it - if the real Terry Symansky's nephew hadn't been working on a bit of genealogy. When he started looking into his family history on ancestry.com he found that his uncle, who had died in 1991, had gotten married two years after they buried him. 

Hoagland is now in jail awaiting trial on charges that include identity fraud. He plead not guilty to those charges. 

You can read the whole story from ABC News' "20/20"  or watch the interview below.


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