Although you may have entertained the thought of leaving your life to start all over again, you probably wouldn’t do it – unless you are Eric Myers. This is the man who went missing for 16 years without a trace. The family finally had to declare him dead and cashed in on his life insurance. However, he showed up with his gay lover and caused more havoc than when he disappeared.
What really happened? This story is unbelievable enough for Holywood.
Who is Eric Myers?
Eric Myers was a model man. He was a dedicated Christian who swore by the values taught in the Bible. Financially, he had it all, being the son to prominent parents in the Valley area in Arizona. His father was Don Myers, a powerful businessman, well-connected with some of the most powerful names in the Valley.
Eric had 5 children with his wife and things were, by all normal standards, going well for his neat little family.
But the man had a struggle within. He was gay but the norms of the time forced him to suppress his sexuality. His father, he said, was a very intolerant man and it would have been unacceptable to be gay in his house.
But a day had to come when the volcano would erupt. That day, came on the 25th of June, 1991. Eric decided to leave his family and never come back. He was 35-years-old.
Why leave after all these years?
In an interview, Eric said he did not initially plan to leave but a near-death experience set the idea off. He was robbed while in California after the San Diego real estate conference. Two men pounced on him with one carrying a gun. The gunman put the weapon to Eric’s face and demanded money, his briefcase, and wallet.
The incident left him shaking and as he attempted to call 911, he thought about how close death was. In fact, there had been at least 3 other times he almost died. One time was when he put a pistol to his head atop a hill on Paradise Valley. He broke down crying and canceled his morbid plan.
The other suicide attempt was when he climbed Camelback Mountain and stood on the edge of a cliff, ready to throw himself into eternal freedom. That attempt too ended as just that – an attempt.
All these suicidal thoughts as a teenager were because he was deeply gay but had to hide it. He thought of himself as a freak, a sinner, someone not fit to live. But instead of killing himself, he decided to become an ardent Christian to cure his homosexuality.
That was something strange in the family. The Myers, although conservative, were not religious. Eric tried to drown out his homosexuality using an obsession with Christianity.
“I wanted to exorcise myself,” he said. “I became convinced there was a demon that was making me gay.”
But it became apparent that he could not go on. That brush with death during the California robbery made him realize that his life could be over anytime. He decided to live it to the full by being himself sexually. But that required that he disappears.
How he went missing/disappeared
After the robbery, Eric remained with just a few hundred dollars on his person. He spent that night in a cheap motel and the following day, he was overwhelmed with despair and decided to go to Mexico for a break.
Eric crossed the border in Tijuana and bought a bus ticket to Cabo San Lucas. This was the ultimate escape from his normal life. It was his chance to shake off his stiff cultural chains and express his sexuality.
Although this was only meant to be for a while, he stayed in Cabo for four months without informing his family about his whereabouts. Eric re-entered the USA and chose to live in Palm Springs, California.
Living that new life meant he had to have an income. So he set out to find a job and while searching, he met a tourist from Canada, a gay man named Sean Lung. The Canadian, who was an artist and landscape photographer, would become his husband and the two would live together for 16 years. They traveled about and had to change their identities to get odd jobs.
Ups and downs in Canada
Life seemed great for the gay couple. Sean worked as an artist and landscape photographer. Eric at one time posed nude for photos that Sean compiled and called “Desert Manscapes.” The images found some slots in different galleries across Canada.
But in 2003, trouble came and Sean and Eric had to break up. Myers went back to Mexico and using a fake identity and his real estate expertise, he found work selling luxury homes. The little life he built would, however, be destroyed by Hurricane Rita in 2005. This left the man in distress and once again, thinking about taking his life.
Eric put some cash together and went to Canada where he reconciled with Sean.
In Canada, Myers found work in Vancouver using a fake identity. He said he was a Princeton psychologist who held a degree in marketing. He found work as a marketing specialist but his employers would soon notice that the man was not who he said he was. He had been gone for 14 years at this point and was now 48 years old.
Back home, life went on but it was hard
Everyone back home was devastated. They imagine the worst. Was Eric the victim of a violent crime? Had he been kidnapped? Was he dead?
But the kids were the worst hit.
“I remember screaming that I wanted him back,” said his youngest daughter, Kirsten Myers Ruggiano. The girl was only 8 at the time the dad disappeared and had to cry herself to sleep every night. Kirsten fell into alcohol addiction when she was just 11 and struggled to get off. However, there would be no problem with money as Eric had a life insurance policy with a hefty payout.
Eric Meyers is declared legally dead
After police searched for the missing 35-year-old father of 5 all in futility, the family hired private investigators who also went nowhere with the case. All that was ever found was his abandoned rental car. Finally, they decided to declare him legally dead and got a payment of $800,000 from Liberty Life Insurance.
Time to go back
Eric heard that his father was very ill and decided he had to make peace with him. He was reluctant but a little pushing from Sean made him send out a few emails to his relatives. They were not to the point, with one reading, “Would you like to know what happened to Eric?”
These would go without any reply for months until one day, someone responded. It was a skeptical distant relative who asked probing questions until it was clear the man on the other end was indeed the missing Eric.
They would soon arrange a meeting with Eric’s mother in October 2007 and to his shock, the experience was positive. His mother had forgiven him and showed him love. There were tears as he, his mother, and his brothers and sisters laughed and joked. The man would later meet his 3 adopted sons. By that time, they had grown their own wings and were independent men with wives and children of their own.
Don Myers, the patriarch, would not accept him back
At this point, it appeared to be a happy story. But that was until it was time to meet Don Myers, the father. Don, who was very sick at this point, said he did not want to meet his son. He wrote a letter to Eric that read:
“I don’t want to go to any meeting with Eric which . . . will cause me to feel that I should start worrying about him all over again. Of course, I wish him well, but beyond that, I don’t want to become involved again.”
The 76-year-old dying man would, however, have a change of heart. Father and son met in an emotional reunion.
Time to face the wife and daughters
The ex-wife and children were not so welcoming. Anne was now working as an employment lawyer, having sent herself to college. She had moved on and married someone else. Upon hearing that her ex had returned, she said of him “The AntiChrist is back.”
The woman never bought the claim that Eric left because he was gay and people would not accept him. She charged that the man was just dodging responsibility. Although his daughters saw and spoke to him, they have a very strained relationship, if it is a relationship at all.
Eric decided to come back from the dead legally
In 2009, Myers announced that he wanted his death certificate to be annulled. Both his ex-wife and the daughters objected and asked the courts to keep him dead on paper. That is unless Eric agreed to a number of terms. Among them was that he had to pay alimony and child support for all the years he had been gone.
But if his death certificate was annulled, it would create a problem with the insurance company.
At this point, Eric Myers was better off missing or dead, than alive or found. Apart from the fresh emotional pain his return brought upon his family, there would also be a financial and legal toll to be taken. Upon learning that Eric was actually alive, the Insurance company demanded a refund of their $800,000 payout plus interest.