Two Years Later, The Search For 'Hoagy' Continues
July 28 will mark two years that Robert “Hoagy” Hoagland of Glen Road in Sandy Hook is missing.
His wife Lori Hoagland is hopeful that he will be found.
In a recent letter to the editor of The Newtown Bee, she wrote, in part, on behalf of her family, “I would like to express my most heartfelt gratitude to those of you who continued to ferry my boys and I through another year of milestones amid uncertainty, on a current of kindness and love.
“On that day, we will light a candle in tribute to him. On that day, wherever you are, we hope you will do the same,” Ms Hoagland added.
Ms Hoagland said this week that her family will be observing the second anniversary of her husband’s disappearance privately this year.
Last year, on the first anniversary, family and friends gathered at dusk at Fairfield Hills and lofted skyward 50 paper lanterns powered by the heat of flaming candles. Mr Hoagland was age 50 when he disappeared.
On July 21, Ms Hoagland said, “Sadly, there has been no news of my husband’s whereabouts, although the police have continued their investigation. We remain in frequent communication.”
“We continue to hope,” she added.
Police have pursued a number of leads over the last two years concerning reported sightings of Mr Hoagland, but none of those investigative trails have proved successful.
According to police reports issued after his disappearance, Mr Hoagland was seen in a public setting inside the convenience store at the Mobil gas station at 62 Church Hill Road at about 5:30 am on Sunday, July 28. Store surveillance equipment recorded his presence there. Mr Hoagland had last been seen at his home at about noon that day.
Mr Hoagland is white, six feet tall, and weighs 175 pounds. He is bald and has blue eyes.
“On Monday, July 29, 2013, Robert Hoagland was reported missing by his wife when he failed to show up at the [New York City] airport to pick her up. Robert was not located on Monday, July 29, and a missing person investigation was initiated,” according to police.
“All of the vehicles belonging to Robert and his wife were accounted for, and both his wallet and cellphone were later located at his home. Also, his personal belongings including his driver’s license, credit cards, passport… blood pressure medication, money, and shoes were found in his home,” police have said.
In their investigation, police searched the area surrounding his residence, including woods, trails, and nearby Lake Zoar, with no evidence found that Mr Hoagland had been in the area after his disappearance.
Mr Hoagland worked as a real estate appraiser in the Bridgeport area.
Asked to comment on the continuing police investigation into Mr Hoagland’s disappearance, Detective Lieutenant Richard Robinson, who heads the police department’s detective unit, said, “This case is currently remaining an open active case, as there are several leads that are still being followed up.
“No two cases are ever alike … I can say without reservation that this case has been different than any other I have ever worked, and perhaps one of the most frustrating, as we have not yet been able to help to provide any closure for the family,” Det Lt Robinson said.
“Two relatively new leads have been provided that are actively being followed up. One lead is in reference to a possible altercation Mr Hoagland had been involved in well [before] his being reported missing. The other is in reference to possible locations to which Mr Hoagland may have gone, if he left voluntarily … Other previous leads are being followed up on,” Det Lt Robinson added.
Police received about four tips in the case in the past 12 months, he said.
“At this time, there is no solid, conclusive evidence which would support either Mr Hoagland having left on his own, or Mr Hoagland having been the victim of foul play. There is circumstantial evidence that does support each conclusion, but as there is no solid, physical evidence supporting either, we are pursuing all possible theories related to Mr Hoagland’s disappearance,” according to Det Lt Robinson.
“We have not been able to rule out any possibilities. Due to the investigative steps taken to date, we have been able to minimize the likelihood of some possibilities, but without solid physical or testimonial evidence, we cannot rule out any possibilities,” he added.
To publicize Mr Hoagland’s disappearance, town police had large billboards posted bearing his likeness in the Interstate 95 corridor in the Bridgeport area where Mr Hoagland had worked. The billboards listed contact information for the police.
Det Lt Robinson said that Ms Hoagland has stayed in touch with police, adding that police have regular contact with her to follow up on new or ongoing investigative measures.
“We are always optimistic that Mr Hoagland will be found, and we hope for the family that he is found alive and well,” Det Lt Robinson said.
Asked how much time town police have spent on the Hoagland investigation, he said that roughly between 1,000 and 2,000 man-hours have been spent on the case since July 2013.
“This does not include the many hours of assistance provided by local, state, federal, and agencies from other states and/or municipalities,” Det Lt Robinson said.
Police Chief Michael Kehoe said, “Any missing person, including Mr Hoagland, is one of our highest priorities … We will continue to follow any and all leads into his whereabouts.”
Hopefully some future sighting of the man will be fruitful, with police locating him, Chief Kehoe said.
“Everything we can do will be done to find Mr Hoagland,” he said.