An Ontario man who ended up missing after a barn fire in 1977 was assumed dead nine years later. Now over three decades later, Ronald Stan has been discovered to be still alive in the U.S., after a routine re-audit of his disappearance prompted another investigation.
A barn fire in the former Township of East Williams, about 22 miles west of London in the Ontario Province (in Canada, not England), was assumed to be the last place anyone had seen Stan alive. In 1977, the courts declared him legally dead after the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) and the Ontario Office of the Fire Marshall investigated the fire.
The truth has come out after the investigation re-opened, and the man’s name is no longer Ronald Stan. Apparently he had gone off the grid long enough to evade his identity being publicly known, and even changed his name and moved to another country. For now there are no criminal charges being laid against the Ontario man and the case has been closed.
— National Post (@nationalpost) August 25, 2014
The families of those involved, and the U.S. authorities, have been notified of his new identity though. At the age of 69, it appears he’s been going by the name Jeff Walton for over 30 years.
It is unknown what his motives may have been for possibly faking his own death, but it is possible that Stan had allegedly set the barn on fire himself to cover his tracks. He could also open up possibilities for other cases of missing people, now alerting the governments to the idea that those other people may have simply moved across a border and changed their names.
Stan’s lack of a criminal history could be the biggest indication that he wasn’t trying to get away with anything big.
Constable Laurie Houghton said of possible criminal charges against the Ontario man:
“At this time there’s no basis for charges under the Criminal Code of Canada so we won’t be laying any charges in this matter. … I can’t speak to his motives.”
What do you think really happened? Did Ronald Stan start the barn fire and escape Canada simply to get a fresh start with life?
[Image via City of Bryan Fire Department]