Living a lie for decades. A Pasco County man is in jail, accused of stealing a dead man’s identity and using it to start a new life.
It’s a story right out of a movie.
The case stretches from Pasco County to Ohio where a man named Terry Symansky is from.
“You are dealing with human lives that for 20 years, their reality has just been shattered,” said Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco.
According to investigators, Richard Hogland left a wife and four kids behind in Indiana in 1992.
They filed a missing persons report.
After 10 years, a judge declared him dead.
What they didn’t know is Hogland moved to Florida.
He got a hold of a death certificate, and used it to assume the identity of a man he never met, Terry Symansky.
Posing as Symansky, Hogland married again, had a son, and lived in this Zephyrhills home for years.
He used the identity to get a drivers license, credit cards, a mortgage. Even a pilot’s license.
Ron Caudill’s barbershop is just across the street from where Hogland lived
“I wouldn’t want someone else’s name. I’m proud of my own right? I’m just waiting to see what they find out now that everybody knows,” he said.
But Hogland’s secret life finally unraveled, because back in Ohio Terry Symansky’s nephew was working on a genealogy project using Ancestory.com. He didn’t understand how his dead uncle showed up as a property owner in Florida.
Symansky’s family went to police and detectives said Hogland’s lies finally landed him in jail.
“He almost seemed kind of relieved to tell me. But 20 something years to use somebody else’s name is a long time,” said detective Anthony Cardillo.
Symansky’s sister remembers him as a good person with a good heart who didn’t deserve to be taken advantage even after his death.
“I was shocked to find out this was all going on. I’m glad we found out the truth,” said Cynthia Bujak.
The Sheriff’s Office is also looking into the possibility Hogland may have left his old life because he was under Federal investigation for embezzling a million dollars.
The identity theft charge could be just the beginning.