This pilot went missing 40 years ago, but now the truth came out

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There are plenty of theories that have done the rounds on the internet over the many famous disappearances over the years. From alien abductions to kidnappings, a hunt for a murderer to a case where someone seemed to fall off the face of the Earth, there have been many times that crazy theories have popped up as us humans just love to try and explain the unexplained. Some of the most famous disappearances in history include the likes of Aviator Amelia Earhart, Anastasia Romanov, Oscar Zeta Acosta, and Jimmy Hoffa who have all disappeared into the cracks of time over the years never to be discovered.

It seems as though in this day and age with all the modern technology that it would be nearly impossible to disappear. However, if you know the right people, or know how to make yourself untraceable there are endless possibilities as to how you can escape.


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But would you really want to? Leaving behind your entire family, all your friends, your beloved family pet; these are all things to be considered when you make yourself vanish. Plus, what would be the repercussions if you were discovered? Do you have the money to change your appearance? What about getting yourself a new identity and a watertight cover story for your background? It seems like a lot of work for a payoff that doesn’t seem worth it.

For one man his disappearance raised a considerable number of questions not just within the community, but across the nation as to what happened to him. There weren’t as many security measures, or coverage through security cameras back in the ‘70s, but surely one man wouldn’t be able to just disappear without a trace? Jeffrey Michels left everyone pondering over four decades as to where he ended up. The answer finally emerged, and it wasn’t what anyone was thinking…

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The day in question

There was one day in history that changed the lives of everyone involved. It was 1977, and everything seemed to be going as it should be. However, all of a sudden an airman went missing without a trace. No one could understand what had happened to the young man – he must be somewhere! Surely people don’t just disappear off the face of the Earth… do they? It wasn’t until recently that the answers were finally discovered.

A good place to start

A sensible place to start in any tale is at the beginning. The person in question is a man named Jeffrey Michels. He was born in Ohio where it appeared he was happy with life. While at school he was one of the popular kids with nothing of any disaster happening at home. A perfectly normal life. That all changed when the military knocked on the door. Jeffrey felt as though he was obligated to sign up so decided to become part of the Air Force.

The airbase

Jeffrey faced a drastic change of scenery as he was positioned at the North Dakota base that wasn’t far from the border to Canada. The station had already been there for twenty years, but it didn’t appear as though they had prepared for winter any better as Jeffrey was in for some harsh weather during his stay there. From the moment he walked into the building he was in awe at the collection of nuclear missiles stored there. It wouldn’t be long until things all changed…

Disappearing act

As if like magic, Jeffrey Michels went missing. It was July 6, 1977 that his disappearance was reported after he never turned up for duty. Jeffrey soon had his name put on the ‘National Missing and Unidentified Persons System’ but even despite their best efforts no one could find any trace of him. Over the next four decades the searches never turned up anything that proved to be of any use to track Jeffery down. That is until something blew the investigation right out of the water…

The power of Facebook

Social media has been an excellent tool to reunite long-lost family members, pets, friends and anyone else over the years. It was one page that caught the attention of the police though as they saw the group, ‘Veteran Doe’. It was set up to help find veterans of war that had gone missing, as well as acting as a place that people could share any information they had to help find these people. But how would this be able to help when Jeffrey disappeared 40 years before?

A questionable post

After trawling through the site, a person uploaded a photo that the police had a hard time recognizing – it was Jeffrey Michels! Only, he was now 40 years older. The officers struggled to see the youthful face they had been looking at for so long as he had aged so much. What was it that had caused him so much grief over the years? They were determined to find out, but first, they needed to discover why his face was on the website in the first place.

Found at last

After four decades away from his loved ones the investigators were finally able to confirm that the man in the photo was, in fact, Jeffrey Michels. That should have been the best news for anyone, but there was a twist to come in the tale. Jeffrey hadn’t vanished in the way the Air Force has thought. Does that mean he was captured by someone? Or perhaps he had been picked up by a rescue team after getting lost? There were so many questions to be asked.


Removing the evidence

Amelia Pearn was the administrator of the Facebook page. She was also the one that took the photo of Jeffrey Michels off the internet as she was informed the case had been solved. In an interview, she spoke about how the cases are usually unresolved, and the people’s photos on the site typically remain nameless. However, while she was glad that Jeffrey was alive, she was just as shocked as everyone else to learn what had happened to the man.

Discovering the truth

No one over the years had been able to come up with the actual answer for Jeffrey’s disappearance. It was discovered that he was, indeed, alive so that ruled out the possibility of murder. They also confirmed he hadn’t been kidnapped or held against his will for all this time. In fact, Jeffrey was fit and well! So just where had he been for the last 40 years? Well, Jeffrey Michels certainly hadn’t existed for all of that time…

Hiding behind the name

Jeffrey Michels hadn’t existed for all that time, but his alias Jeffrey Lantz had. It was hard for the investigators to discover what had happened, and why he had changed his name, but they assumed that he was trying to disappear from anyone that ever knew him. His friends, or his family members maybe, but they thought maybe for Jeffrey the most important people to vanish from was the Air Force. His new name meant he was nearly impossible to track down, but whereabouts did he go to hide?

The Sunshine State

Jeffrey must have had enough of the cold weather up near Canada as he decided to travel all the way down to Florida where he had been living out his days in Seminole County. All these years and he was living only a number of states away. It seemed almost impossible that he hadn’t come home, and that no one had recognized him, but yet here they were! The officers dug deeper into his life to try and discover what Jeffrey had been doing for all these years.

A life of construction

Not content with spending his life in the military, Jeffrey opened up a construction business so he could help build people’s lives rather than tear them down. He managed to get a location for the company not far from his house, but it was ultimately his company that gave the game away for Jeffrey. The police noticed unusual activity within the business and were finally able to catch him. The secrets continued to unfold outside of his work life too…

A wife and family

Amazingly in the time that he had run away, Jeffrey was able to meet a woman that he settled down with. The couple tied the knot and even went on to have children! Jeffrey must have had one incredible story as to why he suddenly appeared in Florida, but this was all soon set to unravel. He had gone from a life in North Dakota to sunning himself in Florida, but Jeffrey’s life was about to change again after the officers investigating his disappearance finally got hold of him.

Choosing his alias

It was reported that Jeffrey had chosen his alias of Jeffrey Lantz in the last two decades as that is when the earliest report of the name can be seen. He used it when filling out a form in 1998 when he was applying for a business license to open ‘Atlantic Development Corporation’. From then on he continued to use Lantz on all his legal forms, and just adopted it as his new name. The investigators were able to confirm that running away had all been voluntary.

Settling down

In a bid to create his own rules Jeffrey even saved up to purchase his own home in Florida. By becoming a homeowner as well as working as his own boss, Jeffrey finally had complete control over his life. Jeffrey had regretted joining the military all those years ago, but here he didn’t have anyone to tell him what to do or control his life. A life away from regulations and Generals was just what Jeffrey Lantz had been searching for all these years.

A community man

While Living out his life in Florida, Jeffrey had become a favorite resident amongst his community. In fact, when the truth was discovered about his secret life his neighbors were left in utter shock. One of his neighbors even spoke about how they were left speechless when they heard that he had been living with such a big secret for so long. Jeffrey had left everyone in the neighborhood reeling from the news of his former life after he had kept up the facade to them for so long.

The family he left behind

As well as finding himself a new name to go by, and a new home to live in, Jeffrey Lantz found himself a new family to call his own too. His wife and children were able to stay away from the media’s spotlight, so no photos of them have been released online. However, his home address was leaked to the public where many images have emerged of the home he had been living in for so long. But how did the officers manage to track him down?

Uncovering his location

The Air Force has refused to confirm exactly how they were able to track Jeffrey Lantz down after all these years, but it was one minor detail that gave away his identity. Jeffrey was known to have a scar down one of his legs, and the police force used this feature to identify their man. In this day and age, one small detail can give away anyone’s true identity. Being captured after this amount of time would be life-changing for Jeffrey.

Changing the game

The authorities publicly confirmed that Jeffrey was in no danger over the years, but had been living a happy life tucked away in Florida. All this time people from his local neighborhood had believed an entirely different story that involved him being taken against his will, and they often wondered whether he would ever make it out alive if it wasn’t too late. However, the discovery of his real hiding place turned the hero into a coward that chose to run away from the military.

Facing up

After four decades living a life away from the place he had so desperately wanted to escape, the police officers handed Jeffrey Lantz over to the U.S. Air Force where they could decide his punishment. It was ironic that after escaping from the Air Force, Jeffrey was now forced back to the life he had run away from. They had believed for so long that he had been in danger, but now he was finally made to face what he had coming to him.

Finding a punishment

It was now up to the members of the public jury as to how Jeffrey Lantz would be punished for his crimes. According to some reports, they were entitled to sentence Jeffrey to five years imprisonment for what he had done. However, in some cases from the past, the people involved had been sentenced to the death penalty. Which way would they decide to take Jeffrey’s case? He was in a difficult situation, but only time could determine his fate…

A twist

It was discovered that Jeffrey had luck on his side as his case had to be held in a military court instead. This means the entire power was handed over the Air Force. Would they go easy on a senior man? Or would they give him a punishment that meant he would always regret his decision to run away? The last four decades now stood for nothing as Jeffrey’s secret was out, and he was now back under the control of the people he had run away from.

Discovering his fate

In an extreme 180 degree turn, Jeffrey was given the order to return to his active duty in the rank he had previously been working. For Jeffrey, this was the last thing he ever wanted to do. In fact, he had tried to avoid it so much he ran away from everyone he knew for four decades! While in the position the lieutenant in charge handed Jeffry his discharge for ‘other than honorable’ conditions. Was Jeffrey Lantz finally able to walk from the base as a free man?

Not the best way to go

For any member of the military, this wasn’t the best way they could be leaving their base. Being discharged from the military means that the person is under no obligation to serve for their country anymore. The ‘other than honorable’ part explains behavior that goes against what the military expects of its members. Jeffrey deserted his base which meant his punishment was entirely fitting for the situation. Jeffrey knew he had done a cowardly thing when he ran away but was happy to be a free man at last.

Life now

So, where does this leave Jeffrey Lantz now? It is hard to know what may currently lie around the corner for him. There are likely possibilities that the Air Force will want to question Jeffrey continually for the rest of his life. Even though he was only part of the Air Force for a short amount of time, it seems as though he may never really be able to escape them. Jeffrey also now lives with the fact that everyone now knows his secret double life.

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