This Elderly Man Woke Up As An Eight-Year-Old Boy
Changing your identity is no mean feat and it is usually done for one of two reasons - you have either committed an unspeakable crime, or you've witnessed one. If you fall into the latter category, authorities will know who you are, otherwise, your true identity can remain a mystery.
That was the case for a man in his sixties who woke up as an eight-year-old boy in July 2002.
The video below details the extraordinary search to uncover his identity:
Joseph Newton Chandler III ended his life with a .38-caliber handgun in Eastlake, Ohio. Suffering from terminal colon cancer, he committed suicide before his inevitable demise took place. With no family or close friends, he was eaten by flies before the cops found him.
It was only after this rotting body was smelt by a neighbor that the authorities were notified of a problem.
"I found him on the floor in the fetal position," Detective Theodore Kroczak said. "His face was black, and there were thousands of maggots all over his body."
"There was an exit wound at the top his head," Kroczak said. "His bodily fluids had drained onto the gun."
After discovering the body, as is standard police procedure, the cops began the hunt for his family. However, they soon realized that something was up when they couldn't find any information about them in Chandler's apartment.
The only address they found was for an apparent sister, which turned led to a vacant lot in Columbus.
"He didn't leave a suicide note," Kroczak revealed. "But who would he write a suicide note to?"
The only piece of solid information the cops found about the mysterious man's identity was on his social security card. It said that he was 65 years old and revealed that he was born in Buffalo, N.Y. The man's parents were listed as Joseph Newton Chandler Sr. and Ellen Kaaber.
He also had a modest sum of money in his bank account, $82,000, which would go to the state if no relatives were found.
A few months later, a Kaaber family were located and that's when things got even stranger. Ellen and Joseph had married in the 1920s and had a son in 1937 called Joseph Newton Chandler III. The problem? He was killed in a car accident in 1937.
"It started off as a regular suicide, as standard as you can get," Eastlake Police Chief Larry Reik said. "Nothing suggested foul play. Nothing seemed out of the norm. Then we had loads of questions."
"Why did he steal someone’s identity? That takes a lot of work," Reik added. "There [had] to be something behind it."
The identity theft took place in 1978 when Chandler applied for a copy of the eight-year-old's birth certificate. He subsequently used it to obtain a social security number. At the time, the numbers were only given to adults, which made the steal relatively easy.
So who exactly was Chandler? Well, the possibilities are not only endless but deeply disconcerting.
During Chandler's recorded working life, his colleagues said that he kept himself to himself. What's more is that his day-to-day behavior was more than a little strange. He once, for example, attended a Halloween party dressed as Al Capone but spoke to no one the entire night.
"He was a bit of a loner," Reik said.
One of the most interesting possibilities for Chandler's identity was that of the Zodiac Killer. Still unidentified to this day, he went on a killing spree from the late 1960s to the early 1970s. The killer has seven confirmed victims, although a total of at least 37 is suspected.
U.S. Marshal Peter J. Elliott said of Chandler, "His co-workers thought he was odd. Once he told someone [at work], 'Hey, there's something I want to tell you one day.' But he never did. It was one of the few conversations anyone could remember."
"I think this man had a really dark past, and while he may not be the East Area Rapist, the Zodiac Killer or D.B. Cooper, I believe his identity is probably tied to some other unsolved mystery," wrote Reddit user Terry McGowan.
Pictured below are three of the Zodiac Killer's suspected victims, Betty Lou Jensen, David Faraday, and Darlene Ferrin.
"If you go to those lengths to start a new life, you’re definitely running from some serious crime," said author James Renner, who wrote a book inspired by Chandler.
According to Chandler's former colleagues, he would often appear paranoid at work and would sometimes disappear for days.
"One time he told someone that the people chasing him were getting close," Renner added.
The closest the police have come to identifying Chandler's identity was in 2016. They used genetic genealogy databases to trace back Chandler's Y-chromosome and found a match which revealed that this true surname was Nicholas. A first name, however, has yet to be found.
Until then, Chandler's identity will remain a mystery. One thing's for sure - he was definitely hiding from something sinister.