Federal agents are turning to the public for help in identifying a man who assumed the identity of a dead Tulsa boy before killing himself more than a decade ago.
Authorities didn’t learn of the Ohio man’s alias until after his suicide in 2002. The U.S. Marshals Office launched an investigation into his true identity after discovering his given name, Joseph Newton Chandler III, belonged to a 9-year-old Tulsa boy who died in a car crash with his parents near Weatherford, Texas, in 1945.
The mystery man used the child’s personal information to obtain a Social Security card and take over his identity in 1978, according to Ohio newspaper The Plain Dealer. He lived in Ohio as Joseph Chandler for the next 24 years.
The Plain Dealer reported that investigators believe the man assumed the boy’s name to hide his own past as a “violent fugitive.”
Attempts to uncover his identity have been unsuccessful, however. The Marshals Office is hoping someone in Oklahoma will recognize the man, who may have family living in the Oklahoma City or Tulsa areas.
The man was believed to be between 65-70 years old at the time of his death, according to a news release.
He also was described as 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing about 160 pounds, with light brown eyes and gray hair. A possible last name could be Nicholas or Nichols, and he may have served in the Navy.
The release also states he was known to be neat, eccentric and intelligent. He lived a secluded life and worked as a draftsman in the Cleveland, Ohio, area.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Marshals Office at 216-522-4482.
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