A man found dead in upstate New York this week had been missing for almost 10 years and was living under an alias, a development that has devastated his family, the News Times reports.
On Monday, first responders were dispatched to a 911 call involving a 59-year-old man in Rock Hill. The person who called for help knew the man as Richard King, but authorities had trouble confirming his identity.
Police located papers that apparently referenced or belonged to someone by the name of Robert Hoagland and would learn that Hoagland had vanished on July 28, 2013, when he was last seen at a Newtown, Connecticut, gas station.
Hoagland’s wife, Lori, reported him missing the next day after he failed to pick her up at the airport and missed work, as CrimeOnline previously reported. At the time, the couple had three sons in their 20s.
More mysterious was that it seemed he left everything at home: his phone, vehicles, wallet, and medication. The case was even featured on the television series “Disappeared.”
“I mean, from the little bit I knew, I thought he was the nicest guy — he seemed to love his family, and then to just abandon them like that and start a new life? It’s unfathomable,” Connecticut neighbor Frank Dyke said of Hoagland’s disappearance.
Dyke, a garage owner, recalled seeing Hoagland several times before his disappearance when he brought his son into the business.
“He had been here a couple times for estimates and he seemed like a very nice guy. He came here one day with his son, and he seemed like a great dad.”
“Of course, you never know what goes on behind closed doors. But every time I think about it, it’s just crazy — that this was just a couple houses up the street.”
Authorities now believe that Hoagland assumed the identity of King, but they have not provided an explanation as to what may have prompted him to disappear. Hoagland reportedly had been living in Rock Hill, near the Catskill Mountains, since at least November 2013.
There were no signs of foul play in Hoagland’s death — medics were called for a man in cardiac arrest — and police in Newtown said they do not believe there was a “criminal aspect” to his disappearance.
Ahmed Helmy, who works at the gas station in Newtown where Hoagland was last seen, said he remembered Hoagland.
“I know the guy; I’ve seen him in here,” Helmy told the News Times. “A lot of people have been talking about it like maybe he was running from something. Nobody knows. He’s got a wife and three kids, and he just walked away.”
The revelation has left Hoagland’s family searching for answers. Hoagland’s son, Christopher Hoagland, told NBC News that he does not know what would have prompted his dad to leave the family.
“It’s pretty confusing,” Christopher Hoagland said in an interview with NBC News. “We’re trying to handle it right now, to be honest. Haven’t really figured out any details.”
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[Featured image: Robert Hogland/Newtown Police Department]