There is a necessary protocol followed in missing person cases. Just like for the man in the following story, police dotted their I’s and crossed their t’s in the case of this missing airman. But the case ran dry for many years until 2017 when a Facebook post prompted investigators to reopen it.
What they discovered was nothing like what they expected and it prompted authorities to figure out where they went wrong. When they finally dug deep enough into the case, they learned the airman had outsmarted them for nearly forty years…
Joining The Military
Michels was born in East Liverpool, Ohio and when he was 24-years-old, he moved on to a promising career in the military. He was enlisted as one of the junior ranks in the U.S. Army, and his position was E-3, also known as Private First Class (PFC).
Air Force Base In North Dakota
In hopes of making his way higher up the rank, Michels was on active duty from the Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. He was to report for duty on July 6, 1977, at the air force base, but he never showed up…
Missing Person Report
Michels was 25-years-old at the time and no one knew what happened to him. In response, a missing person report was issued for Michels, alongside a photograph showing his face at the time of his disappearance.
Searching For Michels
Initially, the trail went cold pretty early. Authorities went to his hometown in Ohio and they looked around North Dakota, but they found nothing. Then after some time went by, it became more difficult to find him…
Fast forward to July of 2017, nearly four decades after his disappearance and Jeffrey Michels’ photo was posted on Facebook by the group “Veteran Doe.” The page’s purpose is to bring attention to the many missing veteran/active duty cases and unidentified person cases where there is a possible military connection.
The Only Photo Of Michels
They posted the last known photo taken of Michels when he was 25, so now, being that he would have been 65, even if he was alive, it’d be difficult for anyone to identify him. But soon, authorities discovered a shocking discrepancy…
Who Is Jeffrey Lantz?
There was a man named Jeffrey Lantz living in Florida with his wife and two children. He was 65-years-old and he shared the same birthday as Jeffrey Michels. Records show that in 1998, Jeffrey Lantz obtained a business license from the state of Florida for his construction company called Atlantic Development Corporation.
Living Large In Florida
So, investigators put two and two together and determined that Michels wasn’t missing at all. He was actually living in a beautiful $400,000 Sanford, Florida home, with a wife and children. He started a new life for himself and thought no one would figure it out. But, why did he do this? And why did it take so long for authorities to find this veteran?
Staying Under The Radar
Changing his name was a way for Michels to stay under the radar and it made it really difficult for police to find him. His disappearance could have been for many reasons, but the simple answer is that he was running away from something. It could have been a person, someone he owed money to, or possibly his life in the military. But to go to such lengths and literally disappear to do so, is quite extreme.
Did His Family Know?
After discovering Michels was indeed alive and well, there are many questions on people’s minds. Being that he has a family, was there any chance his wife and children knew he was hiding this massive secret?
Did His Family Know About His Double Life?
That’s the big question we’re left with as officials have not said anything about it yet. However, it would seem that the wife might have had some idea, being that they were married and had children together. She would have known if she looked into his social security number for example.
Would Legal Action Be Taken?
The next big question was if any legal action would be taken against Michels? The military has the right to decide what they want to do in this case and Michels future was ultimately at their discretion. He was facing two penalties…
Michels Faced Two Penalties
The first was that if he was arrested for deserting, the punishment was 5 years in prison. The second was that if he deserted during a time of war, he could actually be punishable by death. Luckily for Michels, the air force didn’t want to press any charges against him so here’s what they did instead.
The air force reinstated Michels to his post at 65-years-old and then they gave him a dishonorable discharge. “The statute of limitations ran out, and Michels won’t be charged or court-martialed,” said Special Agent John P. Longmire IV, Det. 802 Commander. He continued…
“He has been brought back onto active duty at his previous rank of E-3. He will be given a discharge under ‘Other Than Honorable’ conditions,” Longmire said. Still, many wondered how Michels managed to get away with leading a double life. It certainly baffled Longmire and Michels peers.
How Do People Get Away With Leading Double Lives?
While we may never really know, what we do know is that Michels isn’t the first person to get away with leading a double life. In fact, we hear stories nearly every day of investigators discovering people leading two completely different lives. Just ask Wall Street banker, Howard Rubin…
Unlike Michels, Rubin was leading a double life under everyone’s noses in his hometown of New York. He didn’t uproot himself or change his name, he just lived how he pleased, hoping no one would find out. Of course, it’s hard to keep a secret like this for long, and soon, stories began circulating about him.
His Dark Side
Despite having a booming career and retiring in 1999 as one of the “most respected” men on Wall Street, Rubin had a darker side to him. He enjoyed the company of much younger women and he enlisted the help of two former models to reach out to bikini models and exotic dancers on Instagram saying something like, “My boss wants to meet you.”
They eventually flew the women out to New York, paying them $2,000 and if Rubin liked them, the women would go to Rubin’s secret sex dungeon. The ladies would sign a non-disclosure agreement before doing so and then head to his 76th-floor penthouse of Metropolitan Tower in New York.
Lawsuit Against Rubin’s
What happened in that penthouse was so violent that some of the women required medical attention upon leaving. Additionally, some claimed that Rubin beat them severely while in his “sex chamber”. Rubin was ultimately charged with rape and human trafficking of women and the women fighting the lawsuit against him sought $20 million in damages. Rubin is just one of the many men who has led a double life in this way, and in the end, just like Michels, they both got caught.