-- Man Thought He Found the One, Then Found Out about Her Dark Past

We live in highly unpredictable times and we’ve somehow learned to get with the times. But nothing prepares you for the sudden revelation that the one person you love more than most in the world isn’t who you thought they were. When Blake Ruff married the love of his love, he could think of nothing else but picket fences and a lovely bunch of kids to light up the home. But after tears together, everything imploded. Blake learned in dismay who his wife really was and his life was never the same again.
Can you guess the plot twist? This is the story of Blake and Lori’s fairytale marriage turned nightmare.

Love At First Sight

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When Blake first laid eyes on Lori Erica Kennedy back in 2003, he fell in love immediately and knew that his life would never be the same. His life would change alright, but he did not have the first clue of how much it was going to change.
The two lovebirds tied the knot after two years of courtship after Blake determined that he knew enough to wife the beautiful Lori. Blake didn’t know a lot about Lori, particularly her past. But everything would clear up eventually, he thought. He would find out a lot about his wife, just not directly from her.
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A Blank Past

Blake was so much in love with his wife that he was never really bothered about the fact that he did not know a lot about her past. But Blake’s family was a little skeptical of Lori even though they still welcomed her into the family. They didn’t quite swallow Lori’s dismissive response to the question about her life. Lori would simply say that she’d had a rough upbringing.
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Lori had just moved to Texas from Arizona when she first met with Blake. They met in Bible class and she did not have any other friends at the time. This was enough information to Blake, but not to his family who were concerned right from the start. Blake of course did not take any heed to their vocal concerns.
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A Private Wedding

Since Lori did not have any family, the two lovers married in a private ceremony. Blake did not even invite his own family. The only witness to the holy matrimony was the preacher, who was happy to join the two lovebirds.
Soon after the ceremony, the couple decided that they would get down to breeding at once. Blake life was somewhat stable. What more could a man want than to have a stable job he loved and a woman he knew would spend the rest of her life with him. Having a family was the next obvious move.
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Family First

As soon as they settled down, they began trying for kids. But the journey was nowhere near easy. Sadly, Lori had multiple miscarriages.
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But the couple was determined to have their very own kids and they opted to try in vitro fertilization to improve their chances. Before long, Lori was expecting a baby girl. Blake was over the moon when he got the news. He was of course completely unprepared  for what was about to happen.
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Pushing Everyone Away

When Lori delivered a bouncing baby girl in 2008, it was supposed to be a joyous moment for the couple. Instead, Lori began to push everyone away, including Blake.
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She’d get all overprotective of their daughter and become quite distant with Blake. Blake was aware that she was a private person, but she’d now taken it to a whole new level. Something was obviously the matter, but Blake did not have the first clue. Lori of course refused to say anything about it.
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A New Obsession

In a dramatic turn of events, Lori began to prod Blake about his own family history. She’d stopped being distant and now wanted to know everything, which was odd for someone who’d declined to reveal anything about her life for years.
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Was Lori coming round to the father of her child? Would they be back on track and happily raise the kind of family they’d dreamed about? Whatever Lori was onto, Blake took it in stride and remained quite hopeful of his family’s future. His family members however were not quite optimistic.
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Enough Is Enough

When Lori finally banned Blake’s family from seeing their granddaughter, the family determined that they’d seen enough of her antics. The two families launched into incessant feuds, placing Blake between a rock and a hard place.
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According to Lori, no one was giving her enough privacy and it was beginning to affect her emotionally and mentally. Owing to the pressure, she plunged into deep depression. But the couple knew that they had to do something to try and save their marriage. Lori was particularly worried about their marriage and she agreed to try marriage therapy.
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Marriage Counseling

In 2010, the couple began marriage counseling, knowing that it was the only shot they had left if they were to save their marriage. But in the end, it was all hopeless and there was nothing they could do.
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Blake had to swallow the bitter pill that Lori was not really the same person he’d met and fell in love with. The couple filed for divorce the next Spring. But the story was far from over as they still needed to work out how they were going to co-parent their daughter.
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Lori's Health Declined Rapidly

With Lori’s health fast heading south, she sunk deeper into depression. She even stopped eating and her health deteriorated quite fast. Lori had drastically lost weight and became increasingly difficult to communicate with. She would only speak to her pastor.
She would frantically fidget with herself during the visits and ramble on and on about the problems of her life. Her behavior had become worrisome as she’d effectively lost everything and was fast becoming unhinged. It seemed incredibly difficult that she would find her way back to happiness. What she needed was at least one person who cared.
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Too Much To Bear

But then it seemed no one really cared and she was going to have to pull herself up and find her way back to happiness. In 2012, on Christmas Eve, Lori had reached the peak of her woes. She drove to the Blake Ruff’s family home and parked in the on the drive way.
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Blake’s father found her in the car the next morning, with two notes. One was addressed to Blake and other one to their daughter. Upon opening both the letters, he realized that they were completely illegible.
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Blake's Big Discovery

Blake knew that Lori was having problems but what had just happened had taken him by surprise. He had no idea that she’d been in such a vulnerable state. But he was yet to make the biggest discovery, which would vindicate his family’s suspicions right from the early days.
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Later on while sorting through Lori’s old items, Blake stumbled into an old lunch box he’d couldn’t remember seeing when they were still together. Inside the lunch lay the whole truth about his wife’s past. Blake couldn’t believe his eyes as he glared inside the lunch box.
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What Was In The Box?

The strange lunchbox had been stacked in the back of the closet, behind a heap of boxes. Blake had the sudden feeling of guilt, that he shouldn’t be opening the box which didn’t belong to him. But he was driven with an overwhelming urge to know if all that Lori had said about herself was anywhere close to the truth.
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Blake was unable to pry open the lunchbox all by himself. If he was going to see the contents of the lunchbox, he was going to need help. He knew exactly the man for the job, someone he could trust. Blake sought assistance from a police officer in the local precinct.
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The Box's Contents Shook Blake To His Core

With a little help from the authorities, Blake finally got to see the contents of the box. Inside the box lay several ID cards from several states and a birth certificate that he’d never seen before. And on the birth certificate was a name he’d never heard of.
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He pulled out another document, this time a name-change document from 1988. Lori would have been 17 years old by then. Lori’s secrets had begun unravelling before his eyes. There was no turning back. And then it all made sense.
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Becky Sue Turner

The name change document showed that Lori had changed her name from Becky Sue Turner in 1988. Together with the officer, Blake dug further into Lori’s past, uncovering even more shocking details about her.
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It turned out that Becky Sue had died in a house fire back in 1971. Lori had been only two years old at the time. So, if Lori wasn’t Becky Sue, then who on earth was she? This puzzling revelations prompted the police to launch an investigation into Lori’s real identity.
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A Woman Without A Past

The first piece of the puzzle that the police uncovered showed that Lori was indeed a woman with no past. As it turned out, she actually did not lie to Blake about it. There was simply nothing to tell. She’s been given a state ID in Idaho as well as a social security card using the name Lori.
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She’d then used her new name and new form of identification to go back to school and get her GED, and eventually enroll into a business program at the University of Texas. Nothing came up from their databases when police tried to trace her backgrounds as Lori.
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No Good Leads

Even as the police proceeded with investigations, there were no concrete leads. They found a former acquaintance who informed them that Lori worked as a dancer at a gentleman’s club back in the 1990s.
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Joe Velling, a social security investigator they questioned also said that he’d been following the case. But he had nothing to add. He had tried to track down Lori for years but he kept running into dead ends.
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Finally, the truth about Lori is discovered. But who was she?

After years of investigations and no answers turning up, Blake and the police had given up. But a genealogist who’d heard about the case became interested. In 2013, Colleen Fitzpatrick heard asked if she could get a DNA sample from Blake’s daughter.
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She found a connection of Lori cousin named Michael Cassidy in Pennsylvania. Joe Velling hoped onto the first flight as soon as he got the information. He wanted to meet with Cassidy and finally get Blake the answers he’d sought so desperately.
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A Family Reunion Of Sorts

When Joe landed in Pennsylvania, he was hoping the truth about Lori would finally come out. He met with Cassidy’s family and showed them a picture of Lori. One of the family members immediately recognized her as cousin Kimberly McLean.
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She’d ran away from home when she was 17 years old. Her mother had married a man she loathed and she took off from home. But even with this new information, both Joe and Blake still wondered what could have happened to the young Lori in between.
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Six Years

It had been six years and a whole journey of discovery as to who Lori was. Back in 2010 when it was discovered that she had been lying about her real identity, the authorities listed her in their database as a Jane Doe.
With the help of Blake’s daughter, Colleen Fitzpatrick had unraveled the true identity of Lori. DNA proved invaluable in this case, demonstrating the strides science has made. While DNA cannot solve every mystery, the Ruff’s family would still be in the dark today.
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From One Daughter To Another

It is no mean fete that the identity of one missing daughter was uncovered through the DNA of another. Many mysteries have been solved ever since ancestry companies begun using DNA to track and connect family trees.
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Of course, not all cases are as dramatic as this one. Each case is unique in its own way. But bizarre cases like Lori’s continue to baffle authorities all over the world. As the DNA technology develops, we can only hope that more of such cases can be solved.
Next: a husband who disappeared, and a grieving wife who learned the truth about her fate 23 years later
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Twenty-Three Years After His Disappearance The Mystery Was Solved!

Linda and Richard Hoagland’s story is a sordid, strange tale. They had a happy marriage and everything seemed to be getting on quite well. When the family settled in Indianapolis, Indiana and had two lovely boys, they had the makings of a perfect family.
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They couple had their usual ups and downs, nothing out of the ordinary, arguments about money, the kids, and what not. They went about normal family activities, with no extreme occurrences. But when Mathew and Douglas, their two sons, turned nine and six respectively, the once happy family’s life took a turn for the unexpected. Something wrong had befallen the household. And only one family member knew the source of this tumult.
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A Terrible Secret

Richard Hoagland had been hiding a nasty secret. As the days went by, he began to withdrew from the family, more and more each passing week. Of course, Linda noticed her husband’s strange behavior. But she quickly made up excuses for it in her mind, which was perhaps the only way she could deal with it as the happy family façade began to crumble.
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Of course the two lovely boys were blissfully unaware about all the tension in the house. None of them had the faintest idea of what was going on. Richard on the other hand felt that the issue was beyond repair and could even be talked about. To a casual eye, it would seem like Richard was quietly happy at home rather than planning something that no one in a million years would have guessed.
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An Unassuming Call

On February 10, 1993 at around 4.45pm, Richard phoned his wife Linda at her workplace. It was a normal day and Linda had gone to work just like she did every other day of the wee. Richard informed her that he had to go to the emergency room because he was feeling a little indisposed.
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Richard declined Linda’s offer to accompany him to the hospital, saying that he “couldn’t wait.” Linda went about her day and collected Douglas, her younger son, from daycare later on after work. She arrived at the house at around 5.25 P.M. and gasped in horror when she discovered that Mathew had been left all alone.
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A Left-Behind Life

Linda immediately phoned all the local hospitals but none of them had any records of her husband ever being there that day. Richard had not left any note or sign that he was leaving. Even his toothbrush was still in the bathroom and all his clothes in the closet. His passport was still in the same place she had seen it. “It was cold. It was in February and he didn’t even take a coat,” Linda would later recount.
Richard had had a previous divorce and even claimed that he was fully in love with Linda as the two met. He was a successful businessman and he managed to take his family on many luxurious vacations. It was quite unlikely that he could just up and leave what seemed like a successful life. Or could he?
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A Shattered Life

One phone call was all it took to completely shatter the family. When Linda picked up the phone, Richard was on the other end of the line. “I can’t live this way anymore,” he was saying. “I feel you would be better off without me.” And then the line went dead as soon as Linda tried to respond.
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The phone rang a few hours later. It was Richard, this time with an even shorter and more cryptic message. “I don’t want to go to jail and I am never coming back,” he said and quickly hanged up. In under 24 hours, he had dismantled his family and turned his own life upside down. Richard vanished from the face of earth from that day, February 10, 1993.
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Richard Flees

Richard’s car was discovered a few days later. The police searched various airlines and their flight records but his name was never found on any outbound flights. He called twice more and when Linda checked the phone records, the calls had originated from Venezuela. Another call had come from Aruba.
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With the head of the family disappeared, it seems things couldn’t get any worse for the once happy family. While Linda tried to cope with the loss of her husband and father of her kids, the police began to look into the mysterious disappearance.
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Hidden Financial Issues

In Spring of the same year, Mathew, Linda’s oldest son got a surprise gift on his 10th birthday. It was beautiful card that contained a fifty-dollar bill from his father. The youngest son Douglas also received a similar gift on his seventh birthday. Both of them would never hear from their father again after this.
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As it turned out, Richard been in dire financial times before he left town. He’d almost maxed out all of their credit cards and at one time even forged Linda’s signature to obtain a bank loan. Linda filed for divorce when she learned all this. The judge ordered Richard to pay all the unpaid taxes, various loans and debts, and more than 25 credit cards.
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A Family In Shock

When he sent the birthday cards to his two boys, Richard wrote, "I love you and miss seeing you. Let your mom help spend this money, you might want to put some away. Maybe sometime soon we will get to see each other. I bet I won't even know you it has been so long. Mind your mother. Bye, Dad."
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Unbeknownst to the boys, those would be their father’s last words to them. Mathew Hoagland spoke to ABC later on. “Initially, you think: 'OK, this won't last long. He'll be back,” Mathew said. Linda also said that Richard had devastated the family. “He left us with nothing, absolutely nothing. I was very broken,” she said.
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Struggling on Their Own

Linda struggled to keep the family together, especially financially. She was unable to service their mortgage and car loans. The walls were fast closing in. The police also began to question her on her husband’s mysterious disappearance. They all but accused her of having a clue on where he had gone or what had happened to him.
Linda stuck to her story, which was that she didn’t have the first idea on where her husband had gone to. She only informed them that Richard had called and that was to only inform her that he was never coming back. The police still suspected her and continued to subject her to endless interrogations. But Linda never once changed her story.
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Linda Under Suspicion

One of the detectives investigating the case eventually claimed that Linda knew her husband’s whereabouts. According to him, it was a carefully planned financial hoax and the end game was for Linda to take the children and join her runaway husband. All this time, Linda had even bigger problems to grapple with, beginning with her finances.
The financial damages that Richard had left behind was beginning to take a toll on the family. Linda was forced to declare bankruptcy, amid failure to even pay her basic bills. It was a horrific moment for her, especially since she had two kids to take care of and the fact that her husband had been the primary breadwinner through most of their marriage.
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The Family Was Followed?!

Linda was forced to depend on her parents to survive the tough times that suddenly become the norm in the family. Instead of sticking around and taking on the financial issues he’d created, Richard had opted for the easy way out, to run away.
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Linda began to notice strange people that seemed to be following her. Sometimes, strange cars parked outside, her mail was opened and re-sealed and a number of things in the house seemed as though they had been moved around. She began to notice a lot strange things around which only pointed to one possibility; she was being watched.
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Family Goes into Hiding

Her dad even found a recording device one day. It had been attached to her phone line and she was now convinced that Richard had definitely been involved with a bunch of unsavory individuals. This was the only logical reason for him to leave town in a huff. “When you're in that situation, you become very paranoid," Linda would later say. The bank foreclosed on the family’s home soon after and also repossessed her vehicle.
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In October of the same year, together with her family, Linda decided to go into hiding in McCordsville, Indiana. She had become desperate to keep both herself and her children out of harm’s way, especially since Richard seemed to have been involved in shady dealings. Before she left, Linda ensured all her bills were in her parents’ names so that she could not be traced. She also made arrangements for her boys to catch the school bus from a friend’s home so that no one could find out where she lived.
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Paranoia

Linda remained in hiding for more than six months, but the fear of the unknown still hadn’t gone away. Years later, the family continued to live in fear and paranoia even. Sadly, the family’s troubles did not end there. Linda was also being watched by the police department. Richard’s disappearance seems to have condemned the family to a constant state of suffering.
The lingering question was, how could a man who claimed to love his family subject them to so much anguish? Luckily, Linda’s parents became a source of solid support. Linda’s mother would later recount in an interview with ABC how painful the situation had been for her daughter’s young family.
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Richard Hoagland Resurfaces

In 2016, the police finally uncovered the truth. Anthony Cardillo, a Detective of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Department in Florida called Linda to give her the news. “Do you know who Richard Hoagland is?” he asked. After all those years, Linda couldn’t believe what she had just heard.
As the family went through all the anguish, Richard had settled down again in West Palm Beach, Florida. He was happily remarried to a new wife and even had a child. The detective informed Linda that they had Richard in custody as he had been apprehended for using a dead man’s identity.
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Stolen Identity

When Richard fled his home, he’d rented a home and inside the house, he’d found a death certificate that belonged to a man named Terry Symansky who’d died in 1991. He decided to assume the dead man’s name and cut himself off from his family.
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From there, Richard Hoagland, now Terry Symansky, embarked on a new life. He got a job, a home, and even a new lover whom he went on to marry and start another family with. He seemed to have settled in quite well and none of his new loved ones had the faintest clue that everything was amiss.
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Taking Advantage

Richard had rented an efficiency apartment that belonged to Edward Symansky who was still mourning his son Terry Symansky’s death. Edward’s home was in Port St. Lucie, Florida and because of the proximity of Richard’s apartment, he was always there to hear the old man reminiscing about his son. Edward, of course, was blissfully unaware that Richard would take advantage of the information.
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When Richard Hoagland was finally nabbed, Cynthia Bujnak, Terry’s sister, would later tell People that his dad was grieving at the time and would often our his heart out. “My dad was the victim. Even after 23 years, the truth will always come out,” she said.
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A Final Arrest

It was only until Terry Symansky’s real nephew began doing some research on ancestry.com that everything began to crumble for Richard. While doing his research, the nephew found a few things that seemed odd and out of place. His long-dead uncle had suddenly been listed as remarrying and even going on to get a pilot’s license.
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The nephew immediately called the authorities and thus began the uncovering of the truth. In July 2016, the same month as his son Douglas’ birthday, police swooped in and apprehended Richard Hoagland. He was put behind bars at the Pasco County jail and a slapped with a $25,000 bond.
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Repercussions For His Actions

Even though it took many years, Richard was finally held accountable for all his actions, both legally and morally. However, the prosecutors could file theft charges against him against crimes he committed in Indiana. They couldn’t find the affidavit that contained the original allegations.
Some of those theft charges included the loan he had illegally obtained by forging Linda’s signature and also the stolen credit cards. The state of Indiana has a statute of limitation on theft that is five years or older. However, as much as Richard escaped those theft charges, he was still charged with stealing a dead man’s identity.
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Two Families Destroyed

Richard’s son, who he’d had when he remarried and living as Terry Symansky, is now 19 years old. His two families have never met, not even the brothers. But Linda expressed to the other family. “My heart goes out to them,” she said. “We know what they are going through. We do express our sympathy and empathy to them. I'm sorry.”
Thanks to his atrocious actions, Richard has now successfully torn apart two families, both of which he claimed to love so much. Meanwhile, Linda’s attorney is trying to obtain reparations for her to the tune of $2 million in unpaid child support. Richard is more than likely to make a restitution for living as Terry Symansky.
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Richard's New Family

The woman Richard remarried in 1995 was called Mary Hossler Hickman. The newlyweds had settled in Zephyrhills, Florida where they had a son. He was just a teenager by the time his dad was nabbed and taken into custody.
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While Richard’s Florida opted to remain out of the limelight throughout the whole situation, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Mary Hossler on the side had found a briefcase that contained documents about Richard’s real identity. She’d also found a deed to a property in Louisiana and a key to a storage unit. Detectives said that the son was shocked. “It was still his father. It's his blood, but that the Symansky name is not his. The emotions they were feeling [were] between anger and sadness and the wonder of why,” they said.
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A Son's Struggle

While Richard did try to be a sweet dad by sending a few birthday cards over the years, his family members can never forget the ordeal he put them through. His sons Mathew and Doug are yet to fully come to terms with their father’s actions. They seemed irrevocably harmed by his antics. Although Mathew later became “the rock” of the family, Doug didn’t take his dad’s sudden an unexplained disappearance so well. He took to drugs and even had to serve multiple prison sentences as a result.
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In a letter to his father that was obtained by People magazine, Doug indicated that the whole thing had caused him to boil in anger every day that he would often wonder if something was wrong with him. He ultimately took to drugs as he was growing up. While he said that he’d forgiven his father, he still had one question for him, “why, dad?”
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A Bad Example

Mathew Hoagland, Doug’s older brother is now 33 years old. He now has his own family but struggles to figure out how someone could just wake up one day and walk away from their own family. Mathew admitted that he initially looked forward to his father’s return but that he has come to believe that he was caught up in some kind of bad dealings and that was why he chose to leave.
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Mathew now wears his father’s ring which he says reminds him of the bad example he set for the family. He never wants to make the same mistake his father made. Linda’s mother on the other hand said that she was “tickled” that Richard was now confined in one place since he previously couldn’t stand being in one place for any amount of time.
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Still No Explanation

Ever since the mystery was finally solved, Richard never speaks anymore. He has never given an explanations as to why he chose to disappear. He has not given any response that would corroborate the claim that he’d fled due to financial hard times. Not even why she forged Linda’s signature. Terry Symanky’s family was equally hurt by Richard’s actions, especially since Richard seemed to know Terry’s father.
Terry’s father had been grieving and had poured out his heart to Richard, man to man. But Richard had turned round and stole his son’s death certificate, including his subsequent actions. From the look of things, Richard will likely never provide any explanation for his dreadful actions and why he felt that he just had to leave. But one thing is clear, the truth will also prevail and will always seek you out no matter where you go

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