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Newtown PD: Body Of Long-Missing Sandy Hook Resident Found (Updated)



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(Editor's Note: This is an expanded version of a story originally published December 7, 2022.)

Robert Hoagland, a Sandy Hook resident who had been missing since July 2013, has been found, deceased, in New York. The announcement was made Wednesday, December 7, by Newtown Police Department.

The Sullivan County (N.Y.) Sheriff’s Department responded to an untimely death of a male at a residence in Rock Hill, N.Y., on December 5. Papers found at the scene identified the man as Hoagland.

While they initially could not identify the deceased man, the Sullivan Country police eventually found papers showing the name Robert Hoagland. Their search revealed that Robert Hoagland was missing from Newtown. The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department then contacted Newtown PD with possible information on the whereabouts of Hoagland.

On Tuesday, December 6, Newtown Police Detectives met with representatives from the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department and confirmed the identity of Robert Hoagland. The detectives learned that Robert Hoagland had been living in Sullivan County since around November 2013 and was using the name Richard King.

Hoagland’s remains were taken to the Sullivan County Coroner for an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of his death; however, there were no signs of foul play.

Robert “Hoagy” Hoagland had been reported missing on July 9, 2013, after failing to pick up a family member from the airport. Through the investigation launched it was learned that he had also failed to show up for work that day, a Monday.

Officers found the family vehicles, Hoagland’s wallet, medication, and cell phone at the family home.

In their investigation, police searched the area surrounding his residence, including woods, trails, and nearby Lake Zoar, with no evidence found that Hoagland had been in the area after his disappearance. Hoagland was last seen locally on Sunday, July 28, 2013, at the convenience store of the Mobil gas station on Church Hill Road.

A number of leads were followed but did not lead to Hoagland. Police theorized that Hoagland had either left on his own or been a victim of foul play.

Before his disappearance, Hoagland worked as a real estate appraiser in the Bridgeport area. He was 50 at the time of the disappearance.

The investigation remained open, and sightings were received and investigated nationwide. The disappearance of Robert Hoagland received lots of media attention, including a feature on the Investigation Discovery series “Disappeared.”

In October 2013, The Newtown Bee reported the Probate Court of Northern Fairfield County scheduled an October 8 hearing on an “application for the appointment of a trustee when a person has disappeared” in connection with Hoagland’s disappearance. Attorney James Gaston, representing Hoagland’s relatives, explained that in such a situation a person, serving as a trustee, is bonded and appointed by the court to oversee the assets of the missing individual in connection with the support of minor children and the spouse. A surety bond is required in such cases.

In 2014, The Bee reported that police were following up a lead that Hoagland may have been working at a restaurant in South Carolina. Police also reported following leads at a Savers in Brookfield and the Putnam County Correctional Facility in Carmel, N.Y.

In July 2014, a group of Hoagland’s family and friends gathered at the Fairfield Hills campus to offer support to Hoagland’s wife and sons one year after his disappearance. As darkness fell across the lawns, candles within 50 paper lanterns were lit. The lanterns were allowed to slowly rise into the night sky and drift on a gentle breeze.

Police continued to pursue leads for years, following up on reported sightings. None of those proved successful.

In September 2014, in order to publicize Hoagland’s disappearance, Newtown police had large billboards posted bearing his likeness in the Interstate 95 corridor in the Bridgeport area where Hoagland had worked. The billboards listed contact information for the police.

Asked how much time town police had spent on the Hoagland investigation by that time, police reported that roughly between 1,000 and 2,000 manhours had been spent on the case since July 2013.

Two years after Hoagland’s disappearance, Newtown Detective Lieutenant Richard Robinson told The Newtown Bee that the case remained open, with “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 in July 2015.

“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,” Robinson added.

Police received about four tips in the case in the previous 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 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.

Michael Kehoe, who was police chief at that time, said any missing person “is one of our highest priorities. We will continue to follow any and all leads into his whereabouts. ... Everything we can do will be done to find Mr Hoagland.”

The case remained quiet in recent years.

Newtown Police Department extends its condolences to the family and friends of Robert Hoagland, it said in a release issued Wednesday morning. The department does not plan to release any further information as there was no criminal aspect to the disappearance, the release also noted.

The family is requesting privacy at this time.


Associate Editor Jim Taylor can be reached at jim@thebee.com.

This surveillance photo of Robert Hoagland was the last local public sighting of the Sandy Hook resident before his disappearance in July 2013. Hoagland was reportedly living under an assumed name in New York at the time of his death.
A missing persons graphic for Robert Hoagland, missing since 2013, who was found deceased in a home in New York on December 5.
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