A deeply religious father of five pulled off the ultimate escape in 1991, disappearing from his family’s life and eventually being declared dead.
But in 2007 — nearly two decades after his vanishing act — Eric Myers made a shocking return to his family’s life as a gay man who had spent much of his new life living with a man.
In an extensive interview with ABC News last week, Myers tried to explain why he left for a real estate seminar in San Diego on June 25, 1991, and never came back.
“I just wanted it all to end. I wanted everything to end,” Myers told ABC News, explaining how he felt trapped by a Christian background and marriage that suppressed his sexuality.
After being robbed in California, Myers headed to Mexico and then to Palm Springs, where he met a Canadian tourist who would eventually become his husband, the outlet reports.
But while Myers may have finally felt free, his family in Arizona was devastated and emotionally traumatized, according to a 2011 report published by The Arizona Republic.
In 2007, Myers said he began to feel like he needed to make peace with his parents. He did realize, however, that his wife and children might not want to see him, according to the Republic. Indeed, his wife, Anne, said her first reaction was “the Antichrist had returned.”
Besides the emotional complications, Myers’s homecoming also was contentious legally. After his return, the family became embroiled in a court battle with Liberty Life Insurance, which claims the Myers family owes $800,000 plus interest in death benefits, according to the Republic.
Myers’ life story has received mixed reviews in the media, with many questioning his motivations and asking whether it’s ever acceptable to abandon one’s children. Still, he’s certainly not the only person to flee his family only to return years later.
For example, in 2002 Brenda Heist left her family in Lititz, Pa., and was declared legally dead only to turn up in Key Largo, Fla., in April. Similarly, authorities in Canada are currently unraveling the motivation behind the mysterious emergence of a woman who disappeared from her home in Surrey, British Columbia, in September 1961.
So far, Myers maintains he has no regrets about coming back from the “dead”; some his relatives, however, haven’t been so quick to forgive him.
“I know a lot of [gay] people who would never do this and absolutely never blame it on their homosexuality,” youngest daughter Kirsten Myers Ruggiano told ABC. “I don’t believe that he is capable of love … toward anyone but himself.”