NewsLocal News


Police crack Ohio cold case with Tulsa ties

Posted at 6:12 PM, Jun 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-22 19:12:32-04

A mystery for over a decade is now solved.

We now know the name of a man who stole the identity of an 8-year-old Tulsa boy who died in 1945.

The man who called himself Joseph Newton Chandler III is actually Robert Ivan Nichols.

And in another bizarre twist --- some think he could be connected to a notorious crime spree.

The first time Ann Manslaka heard her childhood friend's name since 1945 was when the US Marshals revealed his identity was stolen.

The mystery started unraveling in 2002 when Nichols was found dead in his Ohio apartment. His body was found a week after he committed suicide.

In his bank account, the man that is known as Joseph Newton Chandler III left behind more than $80,000 dollars, but when investigators were searching for his heirs, they discovered that the man was not who he said he was.

Chandler was actually an 8-year-old boy from Tulsa.

He died in a car crash with his parents in 1945 on the way to Texas for Christmas.

In 1978, the child's personal information was used to get a social security card by Chandler, who US Marshals revealed is actually Robert Ivan Nichols.

Ann Manslaka, who lived just down the road from the Chandler family in 1945, used to be one of Joe's playmates.

She said the mystery of Joe's stolen identity continues to be a puzzle to her.

"I just wondered how it happened that late and then, of course, we wondered if he lived in Tulsa and that's how he knew when Joe died or how he knew," Manslaka said.

Manslaka says she and her family waved goodbye to Joe and his family before they headed south and ultimately the last time she would see him.

It's still a mystery why Nichols vanished in the first place and it's a story Manslaka hopes will eventually have an ending.

There's long been speculation that Nichols could be the Zodiac Killer.

US Marshals say at this point - they can't say that he was - and they can't say that he wasn't.