An Airman who disappeared from an Air Force Base in North Dakota 40 years ago is in custody of the U.S. Air Force after he was discovered last week living in Florida.
Jeffrey Michels, 64, was arrested Thursday on charges of desertion after he failed to report for duty at North Dakota’s Minot Air Force Base on July 6, 1977, WFTV reported.
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Michels, originally from East Liverpool, Ohio, was found living a double life in Sanford, Fla. — under the name “Jeffrey Lantz,” according to a police report.
The man reportedly used the fake name to obtain a business license in Florida in 1998. Online records show the name Jeffrey Lantz had a certified general contractor license for construction business Atlantic Development Corporation.
A photo of Michels was posted on July 9 to the Facebook group “Veteran Doe” — a website dedicated to bringing “attention to the many missing veteran/active duty cases and unidentified person cases where there is a possible military connection.” The post was deleted after Michels was discovered.
It’s unclear if the Air Force opened an investigation into Michels’ disappearance due to the Facebook post.
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Michels, according to WFTV, is in the custody of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.
Because there is no statute of limitations for deserting a military post, Michels will stand trial in military court.
Reports of Michels’ arrest come one day after Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl pleaded guilty to desertion charges after he left his post in Afghanistan in 2009. Bergdahl was subsequently held captive by the Taliban until May 2014.
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