Robert Ivan Nichols

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Robert Ivan Nichols

Post by Galaxie500 on June 22nd 2018, 7:26 am

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/06/22/he-stole-the-identity-of-a-dead-8-year-old-police-now-want-to-know-what-he-was-hiding-from/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.4c5629e5bc15

"The old man died as he lived — obscure and alone. On July 24, 2002, the 76-year-old snapped the locks on all the windows and doors in his apartment in a Cleveland suburb. He marked the date on his calendar and shut off the air conditioning. Then, as law enforcement officials later recounted, he walked into his bathroom, placed a gun under the roof of his mouth and pulled the trigger.

It would take police nearly a week to discover the remains of the man known as Joseph Newton Chandler III. The summer heat pressing in on the unit turned the apartment into an oven. The body was badly decomposed. Authorities could not even lift fingerprints off the corpse.

Chandler, an electrical engineer, left behind few clues about his life. He was a loner, his co-workers told police, extremely smart but bizarre. He would sit listening to radio static for hours, the Morning Journal reported. Chandler once drove from Ohio to Maine to visit an L.L. Bean store, then immediately turned around and returned when he couldn’t find a parking space in the lot, the Journal said. It was not out of the ordinary for Chandler to vanish from town for days and weeks. “They are getting close,” was all he would cryptically tell people once he arrived home.

The dead man had $82,000 in a bank account. Police searched for a next of kin. On a rental agreement, Chandler listed a sister in Columbus. But the address — 1823 Center St. — led only to a vacant lot. Authorities dug deeper. As U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott told reporters at a news conference this week, that was when “a typical suicide” turned into “one of northeast Ohio’s biggest mysteries.”

Using the deceased’s name, birth date and Social Security number, Ohio police discovered records for Joseph Newton Chandler III.

But Joseph Newton Chandler III had been killed with his parents in a Texas car crash when he was 8 years old in 1945.

If the real Chandler had died a half-century earlier, who was the dead man in Ohio?

For the past 16 years, speculation about the dead man’s identity has stumped law enforcement. Wild theories have wrapped around the case — could he have been the Zodiac Killer? Mysterious hijacker D.B. Cooper? Why was he hiding behind the stolen identity?

After years of work, including groundbreaking DNA testing and genealogical research, authorities revealed Thursday that the man living for decades as Chandler was Robert Ivan Nichols, an Indiana native and decorated World War II veteran who slipped out of his given identity in the 1960s. But law enforcement officials admit they still don’t understand Nichols’ motivation.


“The first part of the mystery is solved,” Elliott told reporters, explaining that he hoped information from the public will help cobble together the full answer. “We figured out this part. Let’s figure out the rest of the story.”


The solution to the identity riddle is also a testament to how new science is making it harder for old secrets to remain hidden in the past. As with the Golden State Killer case, Nichols’s secret was uncovered thanks to the same genealogical research used to link long-lost family members, a technology that has armed law enforcement with a critical new tool.

In 2014 the U.S. Marshals Service took over the investigation to run the mystery man against open fugitive cases, Elliott told reporters this week. Although the corpse had been cremated years earlier, Elliott and his team learned that the man living as Chandler had had a medical procedure in 2000 and that the hospital still had a tissue sample. A local crime lab ran the material through various DNA databases. No matches registered.


Two years later, Elliott asked Colleen Fitzpatrick and Margaret Press, two DNA and genealogical researchers, for help.

“This was the first investigation in Marshall Service history that we utilized forensic genealogy,” Elliott said.

Using the Y-chromosome data from the sample, the scientists and a team of volunteers ran the material through the growing public databases of genealogical data from services such as Ancestry.com and 23andMe. The searches turned up a probable match to a family line tracing to an immigrant from the 1700s named “Nicholas.”

“We did some genealogy on that, but as you can imagine that decedent has thousands and thousands of descendants, so we really could not see where ‘Mr. X’ fell into that family at all,” Fitzpatrick told reporters this week. “But we can say, assuming he was not adopted or he did not experience an illegitimacy or a name change in his male family, his probable last name was ‘Nicholas’ or a variation.”

The remaining sample proved to be a problem.

After years, only 7 percent of the man’s genome remained. Thanks to advanced technology, the researchers were able to still sequence the data and upload the results to “GEDmatch,” a website that allows individuals to post their DNA results for genealogical research. The database provided various matches with the material.


Diving into the family trees, the researchers found a link with a couple named Alpha and Silas Nichols from Indiana. The address from the family was startlingly familiar — 1823 Center St., the address the man posing as Chandler had used for his fictitious sister.

“When we compared those two documents, we said, ‘Bingo, we’ve got him,’ ” Press told reporters.

The couple — long dead — had four sons. Three were no longer living. There were no records for the fourth son, Robert Ivan Nichols, after the mid-1960s.

Last spring, Elliott and another Marshall tracked down Nichols’s son Phillip Nichols to an address in Ohio. The investigators showed him a photograph of the man they were hoping to identify.

“Once I saw the photos, I knew it was him,” the son told reporters.

According to Elliott, Robert Ivan Nichols had served in the U.S. Navy in World War II, suffering serious injuries in the Japanese bombing of the USS Aaron Ward. He returned from combat with a Purple Heart but burned his military uniforms after leaving the service. He was married and had three children but filed for divorce and left in 1964, only telling his wife that she would know why “in due time,” Elliott said.

The last trace of Nichols was a letter he sent to Phillip in 1965, postmarked California and containing a single penny. The family never heard from him again, eventually filing a missing person’s report later that year. Internal Revenue Service records show Nichols worked under his real name until 1976.

How Nichols learned about the dead 8-year-old is still a mystery, Elliott said. But in 1978, he wrote to the hospital in Buffalo, where Chandler was born. He requested and obtained a copy of the child’s birth certificate. Using the information on the document, he applied for a Social Security card under the boy’s name, and the document was shipped to Rapid Center, S.D.

By fall 1978, he was living and working in the Cleveland area under the name Joseph Newton Chandler III.

According to authorities, neither Nichols nor Chandler have criminal records. Elliott, however, said it was clear the lonely man was willing to abandon his life in Cleveland at a moment’s notice. Nichols always kept a packed suitcase in his apartment, the marshal said.

What he may have been running from is still a tangled mystery.

“This has put to rest, at least partially, a mystery within our family,” Nichols’s son Phillip told reporters. “I hold no animosity whatsoever. I always hoped he found a happy life somewhere.”"


https://abcnews.go.com/US/man-stole-dead-childs-id-wwii-vet-vanished/story?id=56051737

"A man who authorities say stole a dead 8-year-old's identity and used his name for decades has finally been identified as a World War II veteran who vanished in the 1960s.

Now federal authorities want to know why Robert Ivan Nichols disappeared in the first place.

Authorities started investigating the mystery when a man who appeared to be "Joseph Chandler" committed suicide in Eastlake, Ohio, in 2002, U.S. Marshal Peter Elliot said at news conference Thursday.

It took a week to find his body, which at that point was decomposed, Elliot said.

Authorities learned that "Chandler" lived a solitary life; his coworkers thought he was "odd, isolated and eccentric," Elliot said.

He also exhibited "very bizarre" behavior: he always kept a suitcase packed in his apartment and would sometimes leave Eastlake for days or weeks at a time, Elliot said.

"Chandler" had left $82,000 in a bank account with no next of kin. Authorities tried to find his relatives, officials said.

That's when investigators said they determined "Chandler" was an impostor. In 1978 "Chandler" forged a Social Security application and stole the identity of Joseph Chandler, who was actually an 8-year-old boy who died in a car accident in Texas in December 1945, officials said.

The investigation into the true identity of "Chandler" went cold for many years. In 2014 the U.S. Marshals took over the case.

They learned "Chandler" was hospitalized two years before his death. During a medical procedure a tissue sample was taken, which provided investigators with his DNA, officials said.

His DNA finally led researchers to the impostor's son -- Phillip Nichols -- in March 2018, officials said.

Phillip Nichols' DNA sample positively matched with "Chandler" who was determined to actually be Robert Ivan Nichols, officials said.

The investigation into the true identity of "Chandler" went cold for many years. In 2014 the U.S. Marshals took over the case.

They learned "Chandler" was hospitalized two years before his death. During a medical procedure a tissue sample was taken, which provided investigators with his DNA, officials said.

Phillip Nichols told authorities that his last contact with his father was in 1965 when he received a letter from Robert Nichols postmarked from Napa, California, officials said.

When investigators started piecing together Robert Nichols' true life, they learned he was in the Navy during World War II; he was injured in the war and received the Purple Heart, officials said.

Family members said Robert Nichols burned his uniforms when he returned from the war, officials noted.

Robert Nichols lived in Michigan in 1964 then settled in California in 1965, officials said.

Robert Nichols' parents reported him missing in 1965 but authorities couldn't find him, and his family never heard from him again.

Investigators now want the public's help to determine why Robert Ivan Nichols went missing and never contacted his family.

They also want to know his whereabouts from after he went missing in the 1960s to before he stole the dead 8-year-old's identity in the 1970s.

His son, Phillip Nichols, said at Thursday's news conference, "I hold no animosity whatsoever. I'd always hoped that he had found a happy life somewhere."

"Robert Ivan Nichols never wanted to be found throughout his lifetime even into his death," Elliot said. "Someone out there may hold the key as to why.""













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Re: Robert Ivan Nichols

Post by ophion1031 on June 27th 2018, 8:23 pm

Thank you for posting this!! I have been away for quite a while and just found out that "Chandler" was identified. Very cool!
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Re: Robert Ivan Nichols

Post by sandy betts on July 10th 2018, 10:49 am

I did some investigating myself on both names he used. I don't see him as running from a sinister past, but as a dead beat dad. He did not want to support his family and to be sure he wouldn't , he changed his name and moved to Calif. The letter with the penny was what got me to thinking about the amount of money he must have owed? That 1965 letter was sent from Napa Ca. He either lived there for a short time or was just passing through and wanted his family to think that was where he was living. I think it was to muddy up the trail. I have been in touch with Marshal Elliott and let him know that I found another marriage. The Marshal's office wanted to know how I found out he had re married? I said it was from the death Cert. they put on the internet. It showed he had been divorced under the name of Chandler. You have to have been married in order to get a divorce. That wife's name was Page. The marriage was 8-13-88 in North Carolina , the divorce was 8-20-1992. The Marshal's office was thankful and said they will investigate the information I gave them. If I find anything else, to contact them. If any of you find info, contact the Ohio Marshal's office.

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Re: Robert Ivan Nichols

Post by ophion1031 on July 23rd 2018, 1:12 am

Chandler... Chandler... Chandler... I was wondering where else I had heard that last name and just remembered that is the name of Gary Stewart's biological mother, Judy Chandler. I wonder if there is some sort of connection between Nichols and Earl Van Best Jr. I didn't like Earl as a suspect at first, but about a year ago I saw him in the trailer for the documentary about Tom Hanson's suspect. He's still not at the top of my list or anything, but damn he looks exactly like the Stine composite.

Anyways, this thread is about Nichols/Chandler... It would be great to find out more about him from his time in California.
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Re: Robert Ivan Nichols

Post by sandy betts on July 23rd 2018, 9:00 am

The letter that Nichols sent to his parents, is not the way Zodiac spoke at all.
He would never say I "got" the package. Zodiac would have said I "received" the package. Remember Zodiac spoke and wrote in a formal manner.My feelings about Earl Van Best is laughable. Even his mother said he was lying. I will have a new Sandy's story thread at Zodiackiller.com in a day or so. Please read it when you have a chance. It is a true story without embellishments. There will be pictures of real Zodiac evidence.

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Re: Robert Ivan Nichols

Post by ophion1031 on July 23rd 2018, 7:59 pm

And the handwriting between Nichols and the Z letters is way off as well. I laughed about Van Best for the longest time until I saw him in the trailer for the Tom Hanson documentary. IT he was Hanson's suspect, and it appears that he was, then that changes things for me.

Can't wait to read your updated story!! Sandy, did you see that Amazon has a new book written by Randall Clemons on his work?
http://zodiackiller.forumotion.com/t906-the-zodiac-killer-enigma-the-secret-of-the-zodiac-killer-schematic-by-randall-clemons
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Re: Robert Ivan Nichols

Post by sandy betts on July 24th 2018, 12:38 pm

Thanks Ophion1031, I am nor sure why EVB being Tom Hanson's subject, makes a difference?
I haven't read Randall Clemons book, it looks like it is about the codes? I am not into the codes anymore. Too many words can be made from the many symbols.

One of the people who is posting my story for me, is a journalist and she was very surprised when she read that I had found a victim in Pittburg Ca. who got away from my Honcho suspect, when he tried to kill her with a long knife!

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Re: Robert Ivan Nichols

Post by ophion1031 on July 24th 2018, 8:30 pm

Randall's book is basically about how Zodiac disguised a lot of things, which is really neat... I love the story of how Tom Hanson tried to catch Z and then was approached by who he thought was the killer, which it seems may have been Van Best...

Let me know when your story is posted please, I can't wait to read it.
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Re: Robert Ivan Nichols

Post by sandy betts on July 24th 2018, 8:45 pm

Thanks a bunch, I will let you know when it is posted.

I just warched the trailer about Hanson. It is interesting that he claims it was EVB in the rest room. Ron Pimintel the Oakland PI told me in 1990 , the guy in the restroom was named Thompson.


Last edited by sandy betts on July 24th 2018, 8:46 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : misspelled one word)

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