Grieving Wife Learns Chilling Truth About Her Missing Husband
When couples decide to get married, they make a promise not just to care for and love each other until their very last breath, but also to be honest with each other as long as they both live. Linda Iseler and Richard Hoagland seemed like one of the couples whose marriage was beyond perfection, but in reality was too good to be true.
It all started when Richard suddenly disappeared without a trace in 1993, leaving behind his wife and two sons.
Naturally, police investigated the disappearance of Richard. They looked at everyone close to him as potential suspects, even his own wife. They were all completely stumped as to what happened to Richard or where he is.
The police still thought Linda was the perpetrator, but due to lack of evidence, they were unable to solve their investigation. Twenty three years have passed, and Linda and her sons lost hope of ever finding Richard again, until she received a call from a detective.
Before He Went Missing
Before the horrific events that unfolded in the lives of Lisa, Richard, and their children, they lived a happy life, just like any other family. The couple lived in a house in Indianapolis, Indiana and had two sons, Matthew and Douglas.
Of course, the two had a few petty arguments over a few things, but they weren’t serious enough to damage their relationship. Then, their life suddenly changed for the family when Matthew and Douglas turned nine and six respectively.
According to reports, Richard started distancing himself from his family the week before he was reported missing. Linda noticed her husband’s strange behavior, but she just shrugged it off and assumed she was just overthinking.
Their children, on the other hand, were still too young to even realize that there was something wrong going on. What everyone didn’t know was that Richard was having problems, and he had been keeping a chilling secret to himself, one that would change their lives forever.
A Strange Phone Call
One day, Linda received a strange phone call from Richard. At 4:45 PM on February 10, 1993, Richard called his wife at work, telling her that he wasn’t feeling well and that he had to go to the emergency room. Of course, Linda was worried about her husband and offered to accompany him to the emergency room.
However, Richard declined and said he didn’t have time to wait. Once her shift ended, she picked up Douglas from daycare, and when she returned home at 5:25 PM, she was shocked to see that Richard was gone and Matthew was left all alone.
Nowhere To Be Found
Linda was alarmed upon seeing Matthew alone and Richard was nowhere to be found. She thought it was quite unlike him to leave their child at home without telling her, so she called up different hospitals, asking if Richard was there.
Unfortunately, none of them had any records of Richard. Linda also found it strange that her husband left all his personal belongings, not even his coat. Linda wondered why he would go outside on a chilly February afternoon without wearing anything to warm him up.
The End Of A Happy Marriage
Suddenly, Richard called again, this time telling Linda some heartbreaking news. According to Linda, her husband called to say that he wants to end their marriage. He said, “I can’t live this way anymore. I feel you would be better off without me,” then hung up.
Linda was stunned and didn’t really get the chance to respond to her husband. A few hours later, he called her again, saying “I don’t want to go to jail. I’m never coming back.”
Gone Without A Trace
The search was on. The last time anyone heard from Richard was on February 10, and there were no signs of him anywhere. A few days later, they found his car, which was abandoned at the Indianapolis International Airport. They then decided to contact different airlines to check if Richard got on any one of them, but their records showed no matches.
Linda then thought of checking where his last two calls were made and finally found a lead. Apparently, one of Richard’s calls came from Venezuela and the other one from Aruba, leaving Linda in a dead end.
Without any leads, police had to step in and conduct their own investigation. Again, they reached a dead end. It wasn’t until the next spring when the family heard from Richard again. According to Linda, her husband sent Matthew a card with $50 in it for his 10th birthday.
He also sent Douglas a separate card for his 7th birthday that year. That was the very last time Linda and her family heard from Richard again. Apparently, Richard had financial problems before he disappeared.
Left With Nothing
Not only did Richard fail to tell his family where he was going, but he also left them with unpaid taxes and loans. Before his disappearance, he was having financial problems but didn’t mention anything to Linda.
He even forged her signature just so he could get a loan from the bank. When Linda found out, she filed for divorce, and Richard got in trouble with the law. All in all, Richard had unpaid loans, taxes, debts from other people, and 26 credit card debts.
Alone In the World
When Richard sent his sons their birthday cards, it came with a message saying, “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.”
Meanwhile, Linda had to face everything that Richard left by herself. Aside from being stuck with his debts, she was also being questioned by the police since she was their prime suspect.
Police were pinpointing Linda from the start for the disappearance of Richard. One of the detectives assigned on the case insisted that Linda knew more than what she was telling the authorities. According to the detective, Linda really knew where her husband ran off to.
He came up with the theory that Linda also had financial problems along with her husband, and that the two of them devised a plan to meet up soon. Still, Linda maintained that she had nothing to do with it and had to eventually file for bankruptcy because she was unable to pay her husband’s debts.
Someone Is Watching
Because Linda was so deep in debt, she had to rely on her parents just to be able to pay off the loans that Richard owed. But this was the least of Linda’s concerns, for she felt that someone was closely monitoring her every move.
According to reports, Linda had the strange sense that she was being followed by unknown people. She would often see cars parked outside their home, opened letters that were sealed again, and objects being moved in her home even though there was nobody else in her house.
True enough, what Linda sensed was right. Her father eventually found a recording device attached to her phone line. She believed that Richard had to run away because he was in trouble for something bigger.
She then decided to leave their home in Indianapolis and skip town to hide away in McCordsville, Indiana. Linda took extra precautions so that no one could track where she is. Naturally, she felt scared for her life. “When you’re in that situation, you become very paranoid,” she said.
Living In Constant Fear
With someone following her and the police still monitoring her every move, Linda had to hide for six months. She thought that her worries would eventually go away within that span of time, but she was wrong.
The trauma of everything that was happening to her resulted in her living in constant fear for many years. She never thought that this would even happen to her and her family. Luckily, her parents were always around to help her out with her problems.
After many years of not hearing a word from Richard, detectives were finally able to uncover the mystery behind his disappearance. Anthony Cardillo, a detective from the Pasco County Sheriff's Department in Florida, made a call to Linda in 2016, asking her if she was familiar with the name Richard Hoagland.
Linda was shocked to hear her husband’s name again. The detective eventually told her that Richard has a new family and has settled down in West Palm Beach, Florida. He was also arrested for identity fraud using a dead man’s name.
Dead Man Walking
According to the authorities, Richard rented a home in Florida when he went into hiding. There, he found a death certificate of a man named Terry Symansky, who passed away in 1991.
This gave him an idea, and he eventually decided to finally cut all of his connection with his family in order to assume a new identity. He then started a new life and found a new wife. Everything went smoothly for Richard, who was now known as Terry.
So, how was Richard able to pull off such a move? Apparently, the owner of the house that he rented in Port St. Lucie, Florida belonged to a man named Edward Symansky, Terry’s father. Richard befriended Edward until he opened up to him about his son’s death.
Richard was then able to gather enough information about Terry that he was able to eventually assume his identity. Cynthia Bujnak, Terry’s sister, said in an interview with People after Richard’s arrest that, “My dad was grieving and pouring his heart out… My dad was the victim. Even after 23 years, the truth will always come out.”
Finding Out the Truth
Richard would have successfully lived his new life if it wasn’t for Terry’s nephew. His nephew was apparently checking out details about his ancestry on ancestry.com. He then noticed that his deceased uncle was on the website, married to a new woman, and even has his pilot’s license.
He then decided to report this to the authorities. Richard was unaware that the police would come knocking on his front door in July 2016 with a warrant of arrest for identity theft. He was locked in the Pasco County jail on a $25,000 bond.
No Crime Goes Unpunished
Even though Linda felt relieved that Richard was alive after all these years, she knew that he still had to face the crimes he committed. Although Richard won’t be charged for theft in Indiana since theft crimes could only be held for five years, he was still going to be charged for identity theft.
With what Richard did, he not only hurt Linda and their two sons, but also the new family he has in Florida. Linda felt sympathetic towards Richard’s new family and said, “My heart goes out to them. We know what they are going through. We do express our sympathy and empathy to them. I’m Sorry.”
Terry Symansky and His Family
When Richard decided to live the rest of his life as Terry Symansky, he met and married a woman named Mary Hossler Hickman in 1995. Together, they had a son who was just 19 years old when Richard’s crimes were uncovered.
Although his new family hardly spoke about what happened, his wife told the authorities that she found a briefcase belonging to her husband which contained documents about who he really was. Naturally, his new family was shocked with what they discovered.
Matthew And Douglas
Meanwhile, both Matthew and Douglas were deeply affected by what their father did to them. While Matthew made sure that his mother was well-taken care of, Douglas didn’t react very well to Richard’s disappearance and lived a miserable life.
Douglas ended up serving multiple prison sentences and was also involved in drug-related crimes that got him in trouble with the law. At one point, Douglas wrote a letter for his father, venting out all his anger and frustration towards him.
In an interview with Indianapolis Star, Douglas shared what his life was like after his father disappeared. “I started messing around with drugs in early high school. I broke my hand, was prescribed narcotics. It was off to the races after that,” he said.
It also didn’t help him at all when he saw the new report about his father while he was serving an eight-year sentence in jail. Despite not seeing his father since he was a child, he immediately recognized him when his face flushed on the television screen.
A Bitter Reminder
Matthew, on the other hand, already has his own family, but of course, he was still deeply bothered by what his father did to them. Looking at his own wife and kids, he couldn’t imagine how their father was able to easily leave them.
As a reminder of the terrible thing that Richard did to them, Matthew wears his father’s ring so that he won’t make the same mistake that Richard did. Matthew is living proof that some wounds just don’t heal completely.
Even though he was already caught red-handed, Richard still hasn’t spoken a word about what he did. Since the time he was caught, he never explained to his two families and to Terry Symansky’s family why he did what he did.
Not only that, but he also seemed to have no remorse for committing his crimes, even when he saw his two sons, Matthew and Douglas, for the first time after he left them in 1993 during one of his court hearings.
The Carlina White Disappearance
While Richard voluntarily went missing, a woman named Carlina White was forcibly taken from her real family, never to be seen again for many years. Carlina was born on July 15, 1987, and just 19 days after she was born, she was abducted at the Harlem Hospital Center in New York City.
She grew up knowing she was someone else, but she was eventually able to figure out that she was the daughter of a different woman. How was she able to return to her real mother?
Nedjra “Netty” Nance
Nedjra “Netty” Nance was only 23 years old when she discovered the truth about her identity. She was about to become a first-time mom along with her cousin, Brittany, who was also pregnant. In order to get free prenatal care from the state of Connecticut, Netty had to provide her birth certificate.
She asked her mother, Ann Pettway for her birth certificate, to which she told her that she was going to handle it. Netty eventually got tired of waiting and decided to look for her birth certificate.
A Shocking Discovery
Netty eventually found her birth certificate upon looking for it in her mother’s belongings. She took it to the Bureau of Vital Statistics in New Haven, but was rejected because the clerk was unable to find her records.
Netty insisted they check again, but the supervisor of the bureau threatened to report her to the police thinking that she was faking her identity. Furious, she went home and told Ann, but she just shrugged her off and told her that she was going to handle it.
After Netty went to the bureau, the Department of Children and Families called their home and looked for Ann. Netty wasn’t aware of this call, but Ann eventually told her about it a few days later. Ann was about to go to work when she told Netty that she wanted to talk to her once she got home.
That same evening, Ann went to Netty's room and started crying. Netty was surprised with what she saw since she never saw her mom cry before.
A Big Revelation
When Netty asked what was the matter, Ann sadly told her, “Your mom left you, and she never came back.” Netty couldn’t believe what she just heard. Seven years passed before Netty fully realized what was going on.
She eventually learned that her name wasn’t Nedjra “Netty” Nance, but Carlina White, and that she went missing when she was just 19 days old. But her biggest realization was that the woman she thought was her mother was actually her kidnapper.
Netty’s real parents were Carl and Joy. When Carl was only 22, he got Joy, who was only 16 at that time, pregnant. Carl worked as a truck driver and the two of them grew up in Harlem, which is where they met.
They were only dating for a year, and Joy’s pregnancy was a surprise to the both of them. Still, they decided to keep the baby, and on July 15, 1987, Joy gave birth to an eight-pound baby Carlina.
A Strange Nurse
After just 19 days, Carlina developed an alarmingly high fever, which is why they had to take her back to Harlem Hospital to get checked. When they got there, they were assisted by a heavyset black woman, who seemed to be in her 20s, wearing a nurse’s uniform.
The strange thing was, she wasn’t wearing a name tag, but they didn’t think too much of it. A doctor then assisted them and told them that Carlina should spend the night at the hospital to be monitored.
An Unusual Remark
While Carl was calling his and Joy’s mother, he overheard the woman wearing the nurse’s uniform telling Joy “the baby doesn’t cry for you, you cry for the baby.” In short, the woman told Joy that the baby would be fine and that all she needed to do was rest.
The couple then went home at around 12:30 AM. Carl took Joy to her mother’s apartment, while he went home to get some shut eye. At around 6 AM, the police called Carl. They were at Joy’s mother’s apartment, and they told him that Carlina was missing.
Carl immediately rushed to the apartment and saw that it was surrounded by police cars. Carl was then informed that the hospital told Joy that Carlina went missing at around 3:40 AM. No one saw who took their baby, but they suspected that it was the woman wearing the nurse’s uniform who abducted Carlina.
They then learned a chilling fact about the woman. The hospital staff told them that she doesn’t work there and that she had been making rounds in the hospital for a few months.
Gone Without A Trace
It was then that Joy realized that the woman who posed as a nurse was trying to get rid of her the night they brought Carlina for a check-up. Based on their descriptions, the police were able to identify a 31-year-old woman by the name of Lucy Brockington, who was also wanted for stealing cars.
The police were able to track her down and she was questioned about Carlina’s disappearance, but she was dismissed as a suspect because she had an alibi during the time that the baby went missing.
A Real-Life Nightmare
Just like any mother who deeply cared for their newborn baby, Joy was shattered. She dropped out of school for a year, and she had to take anti-anxiety medications due to the trauma that Carlina’s abduction caused her. According to Carl, he was also greatly affected by this incident, saying he was unable to eat and tended to lash out at people.
He kept blaming himself, and when he’s not blaming himself, he was blaming Joy for not staying at the hospital that night. Eventually, the loss of their child resulted in their breakup.
Ann Pettway was a typical girl from the East End of Bridgeport. She was a popular girl in her school, Warren Harding High School, and she was apparently headstrong and did not abide by the rules. According to Netty, Ann was imprisoned for a month due to theft and was also arrested for forgery.
When baby Carlina was born, Ann told her friends and relatives that she was pregnant. However, Ann’s sister and one of her cousins found it odd that no one saw her pregnant or even give birth.
An Unhappy Childhood
Ann was so determined to have a child of her own, that she ended up taking Carl and Joy’s baby. For 23 years, Netty grew up thinking that the woman who was taking care of her was her mother. Netty described what it was like living with Ann.
She told the New York Post that Ann was a substance abuser. She recalls seeing drugs and other weapons in their house. She also said that Ann wasn’t so nice to her all the time, and that when she came down from one of her highs, she would run away from fear of her.
Forgive And Forget
Despite what happened to her, Netty still chose to forgive Ann. She said, “I’m not going to say she was the best mom ever, but she did what she had to do to make me who I am. She was strict, but she was cool. All my friends used to say she was a cool mom.”
Netty said that even though Ann would sometimes beat her up, she still worked hard just so she could get a proper education. Ann worked as a janitor at a local civic center in order to send Netty to school.
Looking back, Netty realized how different she looked from the woman who raised her. When she was a child, some of her cousins and aunts took notice that there was no resemblance between her and Ann. Aside from the fact that Netty had lighter skin than Ann, their facial features were entirely different from one another.
Netty said that everyone called her “Little Ann,” even though she bore no resemblance to her at all. The realization came to her when Ann first confessed that she wasn’t her mother.
In 2005, Netty gave birth to Samani. When her baby turned a year old, she moved out and got her own place in Atlanta by 2009. Still bothered by Ann’s revelations to her, she told her aunt Cassandra, who lived nearby, about what Ann said to her.
Cassandra encouraged Netty, who was still known as Netty during that time, to keep looking for her real parents. Most of the time, she would Google pictures of missing children from the time she was born.
An Uncanny Resemblance
One day, she stumbled upon a picture of a missing baby girl when she searched for “missing children 1987” online. The photo of a 19-day old baby, who went missing on August 4, 1987, caught her attention because she resembled her own child, Samani.
Everyone agreed that the two of them looked alike, which is why Netty decided to call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s hotline in December 2010, hoping to get some answers. She eventually revealed to the center that she suspects the woman who raised her was her kidnapper.
A Touching Conversation
Upon talking to Netty, the center reached out to Joy and Carl to inform them that they might have found their missing daughter, Carlina. Joy, who was at work during that time, couldn’t believe what she heard. To prove that she was actually their daughter, Carl, Joy, and Netty needed to provide DNA samples.
But before that, Netty decided to call Joy to have a conversation with her. Netty mentioned a birthmark she had, one that matched the birthmark that baby Carlina also had. Netty also reached out to Carl to get to know him a little better.
In January, Netty finally had the chance to meet Joy and the rest of her relatives. Netty flew to New York and even took Samani with her. Upon their meeting, the two of them shed tears of joy. The entire time they were together, they only talked about good things.
Netty clicked instantly with Joy’s family. It was then that she realized that she belonged with them. Netty said, “it felt like this is where I belonged.” Carl also came in to meet Netty the following morning.
Netty then had to return home to Atlanta, until a man came up to her and asked her if she was Nejdra Nance. When she answered the man’s question, Netty learned that the NYPD had been trying to reach her to tell her that the DNA results came back positive.
The following day, word got out that a missing child was now found after a 23-year search. It was the first time in American history that a child missing for over two decades has been reunited with her family.
Ann Pays A Heavy Price
When the news broke, the FBI immediately searched for Ann. She faced a sentence of 20 years to life for kidnapping Carlina. People initially thought that Ann would keep on hiding, but when she first heard of the news, she decided that she was going to face her problems.
The Post tried to reach out to Ann, and she told them, “I’m coming, I’m coming, I’m coming back to straighten this all out,” she told them. “I raised her, and I was a good mom.” Surprisingly, they never heard from Ann again.
Lack Of Cooperation
Police then asked for Netty’s help, but she refused to do so. She refused to cooperate not because she was trying to protect Ann, but because she wanted to forget all the terrible memories from her childhood. Joy, on the other hand, expressed how she wanted Ann to pay for her crime.
Netty eventually grew more distant from her real mother and father. The Oprah Winfrey Show even reached out to them to be featured on the show. Joy and Carl agreed, but Netty later refused the offer. Initially, Netty was worried that Ann’s other child, Trevor, would grow up without a mother.
On January 23, 2010, Ann finally surrendered to the authorities. Netty found out about this when she saw Ann on television. Ann’s lawyer, Robert Baum, defended Ann in front of the media and told them that she only wanted to be a mother.
According to the lawyer, Ann had a miscarriage during the summer that Carlina was born. Sad because she lost her child, she turned to another couple and decided to take their child away from them so that she could have her own.
When Ann surrendered to the FBI, Netty grew more and more distant from Carl and Joy. Because of this, Joy spoke in an interview on the Today show and expressed her disappointment with Netty. Joy thought that Netty only reunited with her and Carl because they used to have a trust fund for Carlina in case she comes back before she turns 21.
When the time passed, they decided to liquidate the trust fund and spent it on their other children. Netty was furious with Joy’s statement. Out of anger, she said that she would testify for Ann’s defense.
Despite this, Ann was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison. Before she was locked up in jail, she managed to apologize to Carl and Joy. In court, she said, “I am here today to the right my wrong and ask for forgiveness.”
After stopping her communications with Joy and Carl, Netty realized that she would have to communicate with them one way or another. A few weeks after Ann’s sentencing, Netty reached out to Carl and Joy. Netty expressed that she was now happy that she knows the truth about her identity.