A man who had been declared missing for 25 years and later declared dead in Indiana has been discovered living with a new family in Pasco County, Florida.
Terry Jude Symansky appeared to lead an ordinary life in Florida. He had a wife and a teenage son, owned property, and “worked odd jobs,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.
The only problem, police say, was that Terry Jude Symansky was not really Terry Jude Symansky. He was actually Richard Hoagland who vanished 25 years ago.
Before he began the process of assuming a new identity, Hoagland left his old life, which included a wife and four children, behind in Indiana.
The scam was discovered when a nephew of the real Terry Symansky — who drowned in 1991 at age 33 — started an Ancestry.com family search. Knowing that his uncle was dead, the nephew was surprised to find someone with the same name living in central Florida.
“He looks up his real uncle Terry Symansky and realizes that he died in 1991, which the family knew,” Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said.
“He then starts scrolling down the page and sees more details that Terry Symanksy was remarried in 1995. He owns property in Pasco County, Florida.”
Fearing that their fake relative might try to harm them, family members waited three years before eventually contacting authorities in April, police told the Tampa Bay Times.
Hoagland, now 63, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with fraudulent use of personal identification. How exactly Hoagland came to assume the identity of Terry Symansky still remains a complicated mystery.
As Terry Symansky, he married Mary Hossler Hickman in 1995 and they had a son a couple of years later. The couple lived in Zephyrhills. He also fashioned a medical card to obtain a private pilot’s license as Terry Symansky from the Federal Aviation Administration. His former wife in Indiana told police that Hoagland had three businesses related to insurance.