Missing Airman found 40 years later in Florida

By: Jeff Levkulich

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A serviceman who disappeared 40 years ago from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota was found living a double life in Seminole County, investigators said.

Jeffrey Michels, 64, of Sanford, is in the custody of the United States Air Force after he was arrested last Thursday on charges of desertion.

According to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons website, Michels failed to report for duty at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota on July 6, 1977.  

He hadn't been seen or heard from since the Facebook group "Veteran Doe: posted a picture of Michels on July 9.

However, Michels wasn’t missing. He was living at a home in the Terra Bella neighborhood in Sanford with his wife and kids under an alias, which he used for years, investigators said.

According to a police report, Michels went by the name Jeffrey Lantz. Records showed he used the name in 1998 to obtain a business license from the state of Florida for his construction business called Atlantic Development Corporation.

He also used the name to buy a home in Seminole County, according to the county’s property appraisers website. 

Because there is no statute of limitations for desertion, Michels will stand trial in a military court. 

 

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