Pasco County, Fl. (WASHINGTON POST) – An Ancestry.com search uncovers a two-decade long identify theft.
According to Tampa Bay Times, Richard Hoagland, 63, who vanished 25 years ago and has been considered dead since 2003, was arrested Wednesday, July 20. Hoagland was charged with fraudulent use of personal identification of a central Florida man Terry Jude Symansky.
According to ABC affiliate WFLA, the truth surfaced when a nephew of the real Terry Symansky – who drowned in 1991 at the age of 33 – started an Ancestry.com family search.
“He looks up his real uncle Terry Symansky and realizes that he died in 1991, which the family knew,” Pasco County Sherrif Chris Nocco told the station. “He then starts scrolling down the page and sees more details that Terry Symansky was remarried in 1995. He owns property in Pasco County, Florida.”
Although the exact manner in which Hoagland came to assume the identity of Terry Symansky remains a mystery, The Tampa Bay Times reported that investigators suspect Hoagland stole Symansky’s identity in this way:
“Hoagland once lived with Terry Symansky’s father in Palm Beach. Hoagland found a copy of Terry Symansky’s 1991 death certificate and used it to obtain a birth certificate from Ohio. With the birth certificate in hand, he then applied by mail for an Alabama driver’s license and used that to obtain a Florida driver’s license.”
As Terry Symansky, he married Marry Hossler Hickman in 1995. The couple lived in Zephyrhills and had a son together.
According to Bay News 9, Hoagland left behind his old life, which includes a wife and four children, behind in Indiana before assuming his new life as Terry Symansky.
According to Tampa Bay Times, His former wife told investigators Hoagland told her in the early 1990s that he was wanted by the FBI for embezzling millions of dollars and had no choice but to leave town. Police told the paper, Hoagland told investigators that he left Indiana to get away from his wife.
Eventually, the paper reported, Hoagland’s wife assumed he was dead.
The Times reported that Pasco County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI are working with agencies in Indianapolis and in Huntington to see whether he is linked to unsolved crimes in the early 1990s.
Police said Hoagland’s wife Mary in Florida learned about her husband’s alleged crimes only when detectives showed up at her door last week.
“For 20 years, she’s been lied to, so now she doesn’t know what she has to do as far as whether her marriage is even legal – what’s going to happen to all the properties they own, their bank accounts,” Pasco Sheriff’s Detective Anthony Cardillo told Bay News 9. “The son has the last name Symansky.”
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Hoagland was still in jail Friday in lieu of $25,000 bail. His bail was increased from an initial $2,000 because detectives view him as a flight risk. According to Cardillo, his wife has no plans to bail him out.