New Technology Leads Police To Missing Canadian Man Living In Tahlequah
TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma - A cold case rises from the ashes after a man thought to be dead is found alive and well.
Ronald Stan disappeared in Canada 37 years ago; his wife and kids thought he died in a fire, but he recently resurfaced near Tahlequah with a new name and a new wife.
It's the biggest news story in Canada and it all unfolded in eastern Oklahoma.
Ronald Stan, who in 1977 was a 32-year-old married father of two, disappeared after a barn fire near London, Ontario.
"I remember that one quite well because we dug through dead pigs and so-on with our boots on, and had done our very best to find human remains,” retired Canadian Firefighter, Jim Walsh told CTV News in Canada.
There was never a trace of Stan, so nearly a decade later, he was declared dead, but when an Ontario Police audit pulled up Stan's file this summer, the case that had been closed was about to catch fire.
Through new technology police said they tracked down the now 69-year-old Stan just outside Tahlequah, living as Jeff Walton.
His Facebook page says he's retired and married with children and grandchildren.
Walton's only neighbors, Gary Haeberle and Billy Quick, said they had no idea the man next door was keeping such a secret.
“Yeah, you could hide down here,” Gary Haeberle said. “Quiet. We don't get much traffic and that's why I'm here - dead end street.”
“He seemed to be all right. A good ole boy, but who knows,” Billy Quick said.
“I've known him for a while, but I don't really guess I know him,” Haeberle said.
No one seems to know why Walton, or Stan, left his family and life back in Canada, but one thing's for sure; it's a story he's not interested in sharing with us.
Canadian police said Walton will not face any charges.
According an Ontario newspaper, Walton's American son told a reporter he didn't know anything about his father's past life until this month and neither did Walton's current wife.
According to court records, she filed for divorce in Cherokee County a few weeks ago, apparently after learning the details of his disappearance.
Stan's first wife, Debra Proctor, released a statement saying:
"We are truly saddened from this unimaginable deceit and betrayal.
On August 1st Debra Proctor received a phone call at work from OPP that her husband of 14 1/2 years, who had been in our lives for 16 1/2 years, was instead a missing person from Ontario since 1977. The officer provided facts, dates and other details which left no doubt that Jeff Walton was really Ronald Stan.
As of lest week, Stan now resides in New Orleans with his son.
We are eternally grateful for the continuous love, support and prayers from family and friends that have carried us through this trauma.
Please respect our request for privacy as we continue to deal with this painful matter privately."