An Indiana family abandoned by a man more than 25 years ago is happy for “some closure” after a judge ordered him to pay nearly $2 million in back child support earlier this month.
Linda Iseler said her ex-husband, Richard Hoagland, called her at work on Feb. 10, 1993, to say he was leaving her. She then raced to get the couple’s 6-year-old son, Douglas, at day care before returning to the family’s five-bedroom home in Fishers, where their 9-year-old son, Matthew, was already home alone, the Indianapolis Star reports.
“I can’t live this way anymore,” Hoagland told Iseler, she recalled in a journal. “I feel you would be better off without me.”
Later that evening, Hoagland sealed the family’s fate for good, telling Iseler: “I don’t want to go to jail. I’m never coming back.”
Hoagland cruelly and inexplicably kept his word, eventually remarrying and fathering another son using the name of a dead man whose identity he stole in Florida. But the family’s decades-long quest for answers and justice came to an end on May 14 when a judge ordered Hoagland to pay $1.86 million in back child support, including the maximum allowable annual interest of 18 percent.
“I was glad that we finally had made it to that point where he would be held accountable for his behavior,” Iseler told the newspaper. “There’s some closure with that.”
But Iseler and Matthew Hoagland, now 35, aren’t so sure they’ll ever see a dollar from Richard Hoagland, 65, whom they saw earlier this month for the first time since he walked out more than 25 years ago.
Hoagland called Iseler several times later that month, she said, phoning her collect from either Aruba or Venezuela. And police found Hoagland’s van days after he made that fateful phone call to Iseler, but investigators told her his name was not listed as a passenger on any departing flights.
Hoagland would later return to the United States, resurfacing in West Palm Beach, where he rented a room from the father of a commercial fisherman who drowned in 1991, police said.
Three years later, Hoagland was granted a Florida license using the man’s name, Terry Jude Symansky, after using his death certificate and personal information to obtain a birth certificate and ultimately a driver’s license in Alabama, according to the Indianapolis Star.
In 2016, Hoagland’s web of deceit collapsed in Zephyrhills, where he was living as Symanksy until he met a police detective in his driveway.
“He told me he was Terry Symanksy,” Pasco County Sheriff’s Office Detective Anthony Cardillo told the newspaper in 2016. “He showed me his driver’s license and gave me the Social Security number for Terry Symansky. Then I showed him the death certificate.”
Hoagland later admitted to living as Symansky and remarrying. He also fathered another son, who was 19 at the time of his father’s arrest. Along with his new wife, Hoagland bought property in Florida and obtained a private pilot’s license. He also owned an airplane, according to the newspaper.
Hoagland was sentenced in 2017 to two years in federal prison for aggravated identity theft. He was also ordered to forfeit $42,500, the amount of proceeds he made in connection with a US Department of Housing and Urban Development Section 8 housing program scheme, Department of Justice officials announced last May.
In April, Hoagland returned to Indiana, where Iseler had been fighting to collect unpaid child support for the couple’s two sons, the Star reports. Douglas Hoagland, now 31, said he wants no part of a reunion with his father.
“I’m doing pretty good right now,” he said after spending much of his adult life behind bars, including an eight-year prison sentence. “I don’t think I need to stir up old demons.”
Douglas Hoagland said he was most shocked not to see any meaningful reaction on his father’s face after decades of endless questions and possible scenarios as to what might’ve happened to him.
“If you think you had two kids and you wanted to see them so bad, you think you’d be a little bit emotional,” Douglas Hoagland told the newspaper. “But this guy, nothing. There was nothing there.”
Richard Hoagland declined a request to be interviewed through relatives and his attorney, the Indianapolis Star reports. He’s expected to return to court July 19. Iseler’s attorney, Tom Markle, told the newspaper he intends to ask a judge to order Hoagland to pay an additional $40,000 in attorney fees. But Hoagland’s assets are the subject of ongoing divorce proceedings in Florida, so it’s unclear how much Iseler will receive from him, Markle said.