STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Man stole identity of dead 8-year-old for decades

Part of a cold case that perplexed authorities for years has finally been solved. Thursday afternoon, members of the ...

Posted: Jun 24, 2018 8:57 AM
Updated: Jun 24, 2018 8:57 AM

Part of a cold case that perplexed authorities for years has finally been solved. Thursday afternoon, members of the U.S. Marshals and Eastlake police revealed the true identity of Joseph Newton Chandler III.

Chandler was found dead in an Eastlake apartment in 2002, having committed suicide and leaving $82,000 in a bank account.

When a private investigator tried to find the heirs to Chandler's estate, he stumbled on a secret - Chandler had assumed the identity of an 8-year-old Tulsa, Oklahoma boy who died with his parents in a Texas car crash in 1945. How and why Chandler took the child's identity became a mystery that would remain unsolved for years.

Today, authorities pulled back the curtain on Chandler's life. His real name was Robert Ivan Nichols, a World War II veteran and Purple Heart recipient.

Investigators uncovered his identity after a DNA match was made to a living relative - his son.

Even though part of the mystery has been solved, one question remains. Why? It's still not known why Nichols left his family in the 1960s and moved across the country to go into hiding in Ohio.

U.S. Marshals are hoping that someone Nichols crossed paths with can help answer the questions about why he disappeared - and where he was between the years of 1965 and 1978 when he started living and working in the Cleveland area.

Nichols left his wife and three children in Kentucky in 1964. His family never heard from him again after the following year. When his body was discovered a week after he had committed suicide, it was badly decomposing and no fingerprints could be found.

"With no note, no nothing, closed all the doors, locked all the doors, turned off the air conditioning, and again, he never wanted to be found in this lifetime, even into his death," Elliott said.

Nichols was described as highly intelligent, reclusive, and eccentric. In his apartment, detectives found a bag that was packed and ready to go.

"So he was ready to go at any time," Elliott said. "What he was running from, if he was running from anything, at this point, I just don't know."

Elliott said this was the first time in the Marshals' agency history that they used forensic genealogy to help solve a case. The Marshals worked with the DNA Doe Project and the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 77565

Reported Deaths: 3105
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion16304733
Lake7840283
Elkhart499287
Allen4103164
St. Joseph368183
Hamilton2941104
Vanderburgh208215
Hendricks1972109
Cass18099
Johnson1800119
Porter139139
Clark133350
Tippecanoe126312
Madison104866
LaPorte95730
Howard93865
Kosciusko87212
Bartholomew84447
Floyd83750
Marshall80123
Monroe77732
Delaware76852
Vigo75213
Dubois71812
Noble70829
Boone70446
Hancock69439
Jackson6065
Warrick60030
Shelby57228
LaGrange56910
Grant53230
Dearborn52228
Morgan49235
Henry46020
Clinton4564
Wayne40210
White38011
Montgomery36321
Lawrence35827
Harrison35524
Decatur34732
Putnam3288
Daviess28420
Miami2792
Scott27810
Jasper2592
Greene25634
Franklin24915
Gibson2434
DeKalb2424
Jennings23212
Ripley2208
Steuben2173
Fayette2057
Carroll2033
Perry18813
Posey1810
Starke1817
Orange17924
Wabash1795
Wells1782
Fulton1742
Jefferson1722
Knox1681
Whitley1606
Tipton15416
Sullivan1521
Washington1481
Clay1415
Spencer1393
Randolph1325
Huntington1303
Newton12110
Adams1202
Owen1101
Jay940
Rush914
Pulaski841
Fountain762
Brown752
Blackford662
Pike660
Ohio656
Benton630
Vermillion610
Parke591
Switzerland560
Martin500
Crawford480
Union410
Warren251
Unassigned0207

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 105426

Reported Deaths: 3755
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin19124533
Cuyahoga13999519
Hamilton9917260
Lucas5544324
Montgomery4544101
Summit3712224
Butler307064
Marion295245
Mahoning2644258
Pickaway240442
Stark1931142
Warren187739
Lorain186777
Columbiana169960
Trumbull1578111
Fairfield144933
Delaware137819
Licking136751
Clark121815
Lake115443
Wood110158
Clermont98111
Medina97736
Miami88139
Allen81746
Tuscarawas80114
Portage78063
Greene74212
Mercer66813
Belmont62826
Richland62612
Erie61928
Ashtabula58046
Madison58010
Wayne56759
Geauga56545
Ross5204
Darke42529
Huron4135
Hancock4103
Sandusky40717
Ottawa40527
Athens3642
Holmes3316
Lawrence3230
Auglaize2866
Union2771
Scioto2601
Muskingum2561
Seneca2424
Jefferson2403
Preble2192
Shelby2194
Knox2189
Putnam21517
Washington21222
Coshocton1999
Champaign1922
Morrow1852
Hardin18012
Crawford1775
Clinton1746
Highland1692
Logan1692
Perry1643
Fulton1581
Ashland1563
Defiance1554
Wyandot1559
Brown1502
Williams1393
Fayette1260
Henry1242
Hocking1229
Guernsey1217
Carroll1145
Monroe9418
Pike800
Gallia781
Jackson780
Van Wert732
Paulding720
Adams682
Meigs630
Vinton322
Morgan310
Harrison261
Noble190
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 70°
Angola
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 66°
Huntington
Broken Clouds
71° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 71°
Decatur
Scattered Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 72°
Van Wert
Scattered Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 72°
Weekend Storm Chances
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events