U.S. Marshals release name of man who stole Joseph Newton Chandler's identity

U.S. Marshals solve 2002 cold case
Published: Jun. 21, 2018 at 3:13 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 22, 2018 at 1:16 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Investigators said the man living under the name of Joseph Newton Chandler III was actually Robert Ivan Nichols.

Back in 2002 an unidentified person committed suicide in Eastlake, according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.

The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System said the man was living under the name of Joseph Newton Chandler III.

Investigators said they realized the man who committed suicide was not the real Chandler.

Authorities said the real Chandler was a 8-year-old boy who died in a traffic accident in Texas in 1945.

U.S. Marshals said Nichols was a World War II veteran and was a Purple Heart recipient from Indianapolis.

According to his family when he came home from the war he burned his uniform and moved to California in the 1960s.

In 1964 he got a divorce from his wife, U.S. Marshals said he told his wife and his kids he was leaving them.

Investigators said in 1965 his family reported him missing and never saw him again. His son last heard from him in 1965 when Nichols sent him a letter postmarked from Napa, CA.

U.S. Marshals said Nichols lived under his real name, Nichols, until 1976 and assumed the identity of Chandler, a Texas child, in 1978 when he began working in Ohio  until his death.

He lived in Eastlake until his suicide in July of 2002.

Nichols left behind $82,000 in a bank account with no next of kin.

U.S. Marshals are now trying to figure out why he stole the Chandler identity.

What the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System knows about Nichols:

  • He was an electrical designer and draftsman
  • He was talented in electronics and drafting
  • He was a loner
  • Investigators said they believed he was on the run from law enforcement since at least 1978.

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