The young man below was a member of the Air Force. But 40 years ago, something extraordinary happened. What happened to this airman? One thing’s for sure – this story’s not going to go the way you think…
One Fateful Day
The last time the airman in question was seen was while he was on duty at his Air Force Base. But on one fateful day in 1977, he went missing. No one knew what happened to him. However, recent developments have finally unlocked the truth…
Let’s take it back to the very beginning. Jeffrey Michels, born in East Liverpool, Ohio, was a seemingly happy, humble man. He had a fairly normal upbringing and had many friends growing up. Then one day, the military came calling, and Jeffrey felt compelled to serve his country in whatever way he could. So he decided to join the Air Force. But unfortunately for him, his service as an airman wouldn’t go quite the way he thought it would…
Jeffrey Michels served at the Minot Air Force Base in northwest North Dakota, very close to the Canadian border. The base originally opened 20 years prior as an Air Defense Command Base. During the airman’s time, it was home to nuclear ballistic missiles and an array of bombers and other aircraft. Naturally, Michels faced some long winters at the base and stood in awe of the nuclear missile collection. But things would eventually change for the young soldier…
On July 6, 1977, in an event that caught everybody off guard, Michels went missing, after failing to report to the base. He was registered onto the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, and despite intense searches, could not be found. And for the next 40 years, the search for the former airman went quiet. Virtually no leads or clues were found for Jeffrey’s whereabouts. But in recent times, something happened that blew up this investigation in the most bizarre way…
As time went on, the revolution of the internet and social media opened up many new avenues in the search for the former airman. One group of individuals caught the police’s attention when they opened a Facebook page that went by the title “Veteran Doe.” The page aims to raise awareness of war veterans who have gone missing and acts as a platform for people to share information to help find these individuals. But how does this factor into the story?
An Old Man
Eventually, one user posted a picture of a suspicious man. It turns out the man in question was in fact, Jeffrey Michels, the missing airman. Now old and wrinkled, he was unrecognizable compared to the days when he was a young, handsome man who always had a smile on his face. You could see that many years had passed and something had worn him down. But why had his face been posted on this website?
40 years later, and Jeffrey was finally found by a group of investigators. Fantastic news, right? Well, it turns out that Jeffrey didn’t exactly go missing. At least, not in the way that the Air Force or Namus had anticipated. But what could this mean? Did a rescue team save him? Did he escape his captors? What exactly was the context of this mystery that has been unsolved for over four decades? Alas, the truth finally revealed itself…
After the case was reportedly on its way to being resolved, the Facebook group took down the photo. But Amelia Pearn, the page administrator who posted Jeffrey’s photo in the first place, simply could not believe the truth behind this mystery man. “Often the missing person turns out to be a John or Jane Doe case,” she said.”I was surprised by the results of this one. I’m glad he is alive though.” So what exactly was the truth?
The reality was that none of the aforementioned theories were true. Contrary to the ideas that the investigators’ had conjured up over the years, Jeffrey had not been kidnapped or murdered. The former airman was certainly still alive and in good physical and mental condition. His disappearance had been a mystery for so long. But now, the man had been found. However, it turns out that Jeffrey Michels hasn’t existed for many years now…at least from a certain point of a view…
When the man recognized as Jeffrey Michels was found, he was identified under a different alias. This little detail suggested the Jeffrey very much wanted to disappear from the consciousness of everyone who knew him – his family, his friends, and most importantly, the military. Jeffrey went with a completely different surname to the one he had before – Lantz. This would make him near on impossible to find. But where did the man now known as Mr. Lantz end up going to?
The man now known as Jeffrey Lantz was living in Seminole County, Florida, of all places. Yes, the veteran naturally traded in the cold Canadian border for the hot, tropical climate of The Sunshine State. In hindsight, seeing that he was now at the other end of the country, it all made so much sense. But you’d like to think that he kept himself busy during all that time. What did Mr. Lantz end up doing with his life?
From Destruction To Construction
Jeffrey Lantz traded in the Air Force cockpits and army boots for trucks and forklifts when he opened up his own construction company in Central Florida. Atlantic Development Corporation was located not too far from where he lived in Seminole County. But the company’s entire activity was put into question when Jeffrey was finally caught by the authorities. But one of the most intriguing details about the veteran’s double life can be found outside of work…
The most amazing detail about this entire mystery was that the veteran had got married during his exile and he even had kids! How could the former airman’s life go this way without anyone noticing? How did Jeffrey go from a missing Air Force soldier to a man living a happy life in Florida with a wife and kids? You can rest assured though that Jeffrey’s family life was about to be turned upside down after he was finally found by investigators…
So, as confirmed in a report from WFTV, Michels had deliberately run away from the Air Base to start a new life. He adopted the last name Lantz as it was founded on a variety of official documents. The earliest sign of the new alias could be traced back almost 20 years ago. “Records showed he used the name in 1998 to obtain a business license from the state of Florida for his construction business called Atlantic Development Corporation,” one report claimed.
But the changes didn’t stop there. Investigators also discovered that the former airman now known as Jeffrey Lantz had purchased his own house in Sanford, Florida. It was here that Jeffrey started his new life and tried to move on from the military service that he had regretted joining all those years ago. At home, in his construction business and in virtually every aspect of his life, Jeffrey could be his own boss. There was no General giving him orders.
It is also believed that for a long time, the veteran was actually a popular figure in his community. So when it was revealed that he had been hiding all this time, neighbors and friends were in absolute shock. In fact, one unidentified neighbor said he couldn’t believe that Jeffrey had kept this huge detail a secret for so long. “To find this out that he had a second life…it’s totally unbelievable that somebody could live that long without being caught,” he said.
What About His Family?
It turns out that Jeffrey not only found a new name and home for himself, he also had a family. Although there haven’t been any disclosed images of his wife and kids online, photos of their Florida home were taken and leaked online. Here is one of the photos that shows the front of their house. But how exactly did the investigators, after all this time, find the veteran who had hidden for so long?
How Was He Found?
It is still unconfirmed exactly how the former airman was found after all these years. But although the Air Force remains coy about how they found Jeffrey, the Seminole County authorities were able to identify him purely from a scar on his left leg, close to the ankle. It’s amazing to think that all it can take to find someone in this day and age is one tiny detail. So what did this all mean for Jeffrey moving forward?
“Michels wasn’t missing; he was living at a home in the Terra Bella neighborhood,” authorities claimed. In an incredible turn of events, it was revealed that Jeffrey had been living a double life for the good part of four decades. This one detail completely flipped the mystery on its head. Initially a war hero that people assumed had been kidnapped all those years ago was now seen by the public as a coward, someone who ran away from his own country.
It wouldn’t take long before Jeffrey was arrested and put back into the hands of the U.S. Air Force. After believing that he had escaped the clutches of the base that he had dreaded being at all those years ago, he was now back in the one place he least wanted to be. Karma had come around in the most ironic of ways for Jeffries. His incredible 40-year long journey had finally come full circle. And now, he had to face the music.
Facing The Music
All that remained was one question: how severe would the Air Force punish the former airman? After being charged with desertion, Jeffrey was facing the prospect of “a confinement of five years,” at least according to military.findlaw.com. However, in some cases, the crime that Jeffrey committed could potentially result in the death penalty. This was developing into a serious situation for Jeffrey. It was safe to say that he was on thin ice. But ultimately, what would his fate be?
However, the veteran was granted a hint of luck when it was revealed that the statute of limitations for his crime had, in fact, expired. This meant that Jeffrey was expected to stand trial in a military court. The fate of Jeffrey Lantz was now in the hands of the people he was so desperate to run away from in 1977. It was as if he was never completely free. But what was to happen to him?
Moment Of Truth
In an incredible turn of events, a lieutenant at Minot Air Force Base, John P. Longmire revealed that Jeffrey was “brought back onto active duty at his previous rank of E-3.” For the briefest of moments, the veteran was back on duty. And understandably, this was Jeffrey’s greatest nightmare. It was the last thing he wanted to do. But then, things got even more ludicrous, and the lieutenant gave Jeffrey a “discharge under ‘Other Than Honorable’ conditions.”
Other Than Honorable
What exactly does discharge under ‘other than honorable’ conditions mean exactly? For a start, military discharge is when a member of the military is officially let go and no longer obligated to serve his country. But ‘other than honorable’ alludes to behavior that comes from departure from the conduct that is expected of members of the military. Because desertion fails to qualify with military standards, it was the discharge that Jeffrey deserved. He knew this from the very start.
So what’s next for Jeffrey Lantz? At the moment, it’s hard to tell. Although it seems that the former airman won’t face the harshest of repercussions for leaving the air force all those years ago, Jeffrey will most likely be under scrutiny from the Air Force for the rest of his days. Although his time spent as an airman was brief, he might never feel truly free from the clutches of the military after the recent events in his life.