It was all so routine: a 68-year-old man checked himself into Brooksville Regional Hospital in mid-August. He eventually dies of natural causes.
Then the hospital discovered the man who died does not exist.
"Apparently, they'd run a Social Security check on him that didn't jive with the name and the information he'd been giving people," according to Hernando County Sheriff's forensic investigator Rachel Connors.
The man identified himself as Russell Callahan. But Russell Callahan did not exist, and the Social Security number likewise had never been assigned to anyone. The mystery man's body was taken to Brewer's Memorial Funeral Home in Spring Hill. Funeral Director Kathleen LaSala assumed the real name and Social Security Number would soon surface...it didn't.
Connors took the man's finger prints, and a check of prints in local and state files revealed no matches.
"I've been in the Brewer's for 13 years and in the business for over 30, and I've never encountered anything like this," LaSala said.
Callahan had no picture identification.
"It's a true mystery," Connors thought.
The mystery began to unravel when she checked the man's fingerprints against the FBI's database. It turned out "Russell Callahan" was really 68-year-old Wilbur Noe, a fugitive from Montana.
"Apparently he fled from Montana because of his criminal background," according to Hernando crime analyst Peggy Brooks.
Bob Anez, a spokesman for the Montana Department of Corrections, says Noe was last seen in 2003 when he vanished from a community control program. He was on probation for fraud. Noe may have also been a convicted sex offender from Oregon.
No one has claimed Noe's body, and Friday, Brewer's Funeral Home was granted permission to cremate his remains at county expense.
Brooks, the crime analyst , can close the Wilbur Noe case. Yet she said there is one question that will probably never be answered:
"I don't know how he did it for so long without any kind of identification or anything," Brooks said.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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