Joseph Newton Chandler III
Hold onto your seats ladies and gents, this is one odd story.
Ok, so we have an elderly gentleman named Joseph Newton Chandler III who commits suicide in July of 2002 at his apartment in Eastlake, Ohio. That would wrap up this case EXCEPT the probate court looking to disperse his $82,000 estate figures out that he is not Joseph Newton Chandler III.
Joseph Newton Chandler III from Tulsa, Oklahoma passed away in 1945 at the age of nine in Weatherford, Texas. This gentleman had assumed Joseph’s identity circa 1978.
So, back to square one, what we do know is we have a 65 to 70 year old white male who committed suicide. Given what we know so far his birth year should be between 1932 and 1937. That is a nice tight age range to work with and we also know that the ‘real’ person would have ‘disappeared’ around 1978 when he assumed his new identity. He would have been about 41 to 46 years old at that time.
He sent for and received the papers for his new identity from Rapid City, South Dakota and a bank account from East Liverpool, Ohio has been linked to his apartment in Rapid City. In 1979, using his new identity, he moved from Rapid City, South Dakota to Cleveland, Ohio. In 1986 he moves to his last apartment in Eastlake, Ohio.
While in Ohio he worked specializing in electrical engineering with his last employer being in Wickliffe, Ohio. It is assumed that his electrical engineering background came from being in the US Navy or working on US Navy bases in California.
If he had been enlisted in the Navy, given his age, his earliest enlistment period could have started somewhere between 1949 and 1954 until as late as 1978. He was not in the military in 1979 when he moved with his new identity so that ends the window of possible enlistment periods. Likely he would have served and separated much earlier since it is thought that his first known employment period starts in 1966. This is for an engineering firm in Fullerton, California. At the youngest he would have been 29 in 1966. My best guess is that his Navy service timeframe, assuming there was one, would have been between 1949 and 1966.
So, why not go to the Navy and check fingerprint cards? It would be a long arduous task but possible, right? Nope!
DNA has been obtained and dental records (under the assumed identity) are available but no fingerprints. Having been deceased about a week he was in an advanced state of decomposition and fingerprints were then not available from his body. It is interesting to me that there were no clear fingerprints in his home. None. Nadda. All his prints were smudged. ALL of them. That is very, very interesting.
Certain people, due to working with their hands, will have unusable prints. For example, if you work with concrete all day the skin on your fingertips will be very smooth and lifting prints becomes very difficult. His employment does not suggest that type of thing would happen. So it can be assumed, by me, that he was purposely altering his fingertips and that is suggestive of a fugitive from justice, not just some guy who ran out on a wife and five kids.
In a way it is good news since hypothetically he should have a mug shot and/or prints somewhere. I don’t imagine he’d bother with continually altering his fingerprints unless somebody somewhere had some fingerprints to compare his to. Even the gun he used to kill himself didn’t have usable prints on it and that leads to something else.
There is conflicting online information regarding the origin of the gun he had. One source says the gun he used to shoot himself was a .38-caliber Charter Arms handgun that had been purchased in Seagoville, Texas between 1968 and 1978. But, law enforcement says the gun was purchased locally to Eastlake, Ohio about three months prior to his death. Since it is reported he was suffering from colon cancer I’d lean towards the more recent purchase. It just feels more likely and the investigators are saying it so there is little reason to doubt that information. Interestingly, Weatherford, Texas (where Joseph died) and Seagoville, Texas (one possible purchase origin of the gun) are both suburbs of Dallas though so perhaps there is a strong connection to the Dallas area for this gentleman’s earlier life? It could be a red herring.
I think it would be fascinating to add his DNA to a family tree site and see what pops out. I don’t know if law enforcement is allowed to do that though.
Here are a few links about this case:
Forensic Geneologist finds an association with this John Doe and the last name Nicholas.