A family is probably the most important people you could have in your lives. They are the people whom you will grow old with and the people who will see you at your best and at your worst but still love you for who you are. But what will you do if they turned their back on you? Just like this heartbreaking story.
This is the sad story of Linda Iseler and her family. In 1993, Richard Hoagland, the patriarch of the family suddenly disappeared and was never seen again. Linda and their two young sons were left behind with no money or any clue to help pick up the pieces. She was forced to raise her sons alone. The police consequently eyed Linda with suspicion and spied on her family. But 23 years later something happened that nobody would have expected. Read on to find out what happened in this mind-boggling story!
12. A Strange Story
The couple had typical, everyday activities with the occasional argument over money or the children, but nothing too extreme. When their sons, Matthew and Douglas, turned nine and six years old, the happy family’s life turned upside down. Something was very wrong in the household, and only one person knew about the secret chaos.
It turned out that Richard Hoagland was hiding a terrible secret. As the days passed he withdrew more and more from his family. His wife, Linda, noticed his odd behavior but made up excuses in her own mind. The happy family quickly started to crumble.
The poor boys remained unaware that their life was about to change. Evidently, this was an issue that Richard felt could not be fixed or even talked about. In hindsight, it seems that the entire time Richard was withdrawing at home with his family, he was quietly planning something that no one could have seen coming.
11. Left Without A Trace
In February 1993, Linda went to work like she usually does. She worked at a medical office, and one afternoon at work, Richard gave Linda a call. He said that he had to go to the emergency room because he wasn’t feeling well.
Linda offered to meet Richard at the hospital if she wanted him but he said that he “couldn’t wait.” Linda had no idea their family’s life was about to change. She went about her day and picked up younger son Douglas from daycare after work. She got home at 5:25 P.M. and was shocked when she discovered that Matthew had been left home alone.
Linda called all the local hospitals but no one had any record of Richard ever being there. Richard even left no sign that he was leaving, his toothbrush remained in the bathroom, his clothes in the closet, his passport was untouched. Linda recalled, “It was cold. It was in February. He didn’t take a coat.”
In one moment, their happy and successful life together crumbled. Richard had said he found love again after a previous divorce. He was successful in business and took his family on luxurious vacations. He couldn’t just pack up and leave such a wonderful life like his, could he?
Less than an hour later, the family was officially shattered with a quick phone call from Richard. All that he said was, “I can’t live this way anymore. I feel you would be better off without me.” He quickly hung up, not even allowing Linda to respond.
A few hours later he called back with one more strange message, he said, “I don’t want to go to jail. I’m never coming back.” Within a 24-hour period, Richard had successfully destroyed his family and turned their life upside down. He disappeared on that day, February 10, 1993.
A few days after his last call, Richard’s car was discovered abandoned. Several airlines and their flight records were searched. His name was never found on any flights. Richard called twice more and he always called collect. After Linda checked the phone records, it showed that his calls came once from Venezuela and another time from Aruba.
With the head of the family vanishing into thin air, it seemed like things couldn’t get much worse. As Linda and her two sons tried to cope with the loss of their husband and father, police started to investigate Richard’s mysterious disappearance.
9. Hidden Financial Crisis?
That spring Richard contacted his son Matthew for his 10th birthday when he sent a card with a fifty-dollar bill. A few months later, he did the same for his son Douglas’ seventh birthday. This was the last time they ever heard from him.
It appears that, before he left town, Richard had been struggling financially unknowingly to the family. He almost maxed out their credit cards and even forged Linda’s signature on a bank loan. Linda filed for divorce, and in the decree, the judge ordered Richard to pay unpaid taxes, various loans and debts, and twenty-six credit cards.
In the cards he sent to his sons, Richard wrote, “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.”
Little did they know, those would be the last words Richard’s sons would ever see from him. “Initially, you think: ‘OK, this won’t last long. He’ll be back,” Matthew Hoagland told ABC. Matthew’s mother, Linda, also said, “He devastated us. He left us with nothing, absolutely nothing. I was very broken.”