PSYCHOLOGY

Married Father Vanished In 1993, Leaving His Family Broke. 23 Years Later He Was Found Alive With A New Wife In Florida

Date October 15, 2018 10:01

Richard Hoagland and his wife, Linda Iseler, were living a dream life in Indianapolis. They were raising two sons, Matthew and Douglas, had a big house and a boat, and went on exotic vacations. It all ended on February 10, 1993, when Richard disappeared.

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Richard called Linda from work, saying he wasn’t feeling well. An hour later, he called and said he wasn’t coming back home.

It seemed Richard vanished into thin air. He didn’t take his belongings, not even his passport.

Matthew was 9 and Douglas was 6 at the time of their dad’s disappearance, and they had no idea why he left them.

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The last time Linda and her sons heard from Richard was in the summer of 1993 when he sent his boys two birthday cards.

As the police investigated Richard’s disappearance, they viewed Linda as a suspect. Another version was that Richard had committed a crime and ran away to avoid prison. But the investigation yielded no results.

23 long years of wondering what happened

After Richard disappeared, his family struggled financially. Their house was foreclosed, and Linda had to sell many of their possessions just to pay bills. Fortunately, Linda’s mom was there to help.

Speaking to ABC’s 20/20, Linda recalled:

[Richard] devastated us. He left us with nothing, absolutely nothing. I was very broken.

In 2003, Richard was declared legally dead. Linda moved on with her life and remarried.

After 23 years without Richard, Linda received a fateful call in 2016. The call came from detective Anthony Cardillo of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Department in Florida. He asked Linda if Richard Hoagland was her husband, and after Linda confirmed that he was her missing ex-husband, the detective informed her they had him in custody.

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Richard Hoagland was finally exposed

Linda finally learned the truth about her ex-husband. It turned out that he fled and started a new life in Florida. He assumed a new name, Terry Symansky.

The real Terry Symansky had died in a boating accident in 1991, and Richard stole his death certificate from Terry’s dad, from whom he was renting a room at the time.

The death certificate allowed Richard to obtain a birth certificate and a driving license. Detective Cardillo told 20/20:

Using that death certificate, he applies for a birth certificate. He uses that birth certificate to get a driver’s license. Once he has that driver’s license, he starts establishing his name as Terry Symansky.

With a new name came a new life. Richard Hoagland, who was now known as Terry Symansky, got married again and had a son.

Hoagland would have been able to continue fooling everyone around him if real Terry Symansky’s nephew hadn’t gone on a genealogy website, where he learned that someone was living under his deceased uncle’s name. Terry Symansky’s family went to the police, and Hoagland was finally exposed.

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Now, Hoagland has to pay for everything he has done

Richard’s new wife and son were brokenhearted when they learned the truth about him. They had no idea they had been living a lie. Detective Cardillo told 20/20:

Obviously their 20 years of marriage [was] shattered. The son came down. He was shocked. It was still his father. It’s his blood, but that Symansky name is not his. The emotions they were feeling [were] between anger and sadness and the wonder of why.

Richard Hoagland angered three families, and now he had to pay the price for his actions. He spent almost 2 years in prison for identity theft and was released in 2018, but that was not the end of his woes.

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His Florida wife filed for divorce. Needless to say, she is suing him for all he’s worth. Hoagland’s ex-wife Linda and his now grown-up sons Matthew and Douglas sued him for unpaid child support. The court ruled in Linda’s favor; the judge ordered Hoagland to pay $1.86 million to the family he abandoned 25 years ago, IndyStar reported.

Linda and her sons spoke to IndyStar and said Richard showed no remorse or any other emotions during court hearings.

Douglas said:

If you think you had two kids and you wanted to see them so bad, you think you'd be a little bit emotional. But this guy, nothing.

There was nothing there.

The emotional pain Richard Hoagland caused to his Indiana family, Florida family, and the Symansky family can’t be undone. But justice has been served, and that may bring the families at least some degree of closure.

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