Missing and Presumed Heterosexual
Anne Myer and her family's lives changed on June 25, 1991. It started out innocently enough: Her husband a healthy, successful real estate agent left his home in Arizona and went to a seminar in San Diego. The problem is that he never returned.
Even though there was some evidence of foul play, state police and private investigators turned up nothing but dead ends.
An extensive story on the ABC News program "20/20" reports that he apparently checked out of his hotel room on the first day of his conference, but continued to attend the event. Later, investigators found his rental car abandoned in a part of San Diego, and his wallet was found in an area where junkie threw their trash. Then, a month after his disappearance, three canceled checks surfaced. Some thought he had been murdered in a mugging or targeted in a kidnapping. Nobody knew where he had gone.
His family refused to believe that he would abandon them, but where would Eric Myers go? Why would he leave it all behind -- two homes, five cars, a booming family real estate business, and five children?
His youngest daughter, who was 8 at the time, was hardest hit by the disappearance. "Every night, I remember screaming that I wanted him back," said Kristen Myers Ruggiano. "Most people grow up thinking that... people can't disappear. I grew up in a reality where people do."
"Eric always really wanted to do the right thing," said family friend Susan Vandervoort. "He wanted to be the best Christian, and the best father, and the best husband."
After years of hearing nothing, and with no body or evidence of his death, the family had Eric Myers declared legally dead.
But Eric was alive and well, working as a bouncer and a physical trainer in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. He called himself Roberto. After some time there, he called himself Robert and moved to Palm Springs.
"I don’t remember checking into any hotel. I don’t remember checking out," Eric said to ABC News in his first ever interview about the subject. "I’m answering honestly that I have gaps," Eric added, going on to tell newscasters that he had an emotional breakdown.
Myers tried not to think about his children. "That would take me to a very dark place," he told ABC News. "This isn’t a justification... I will never be painted as a saint, but no one is all good and no one’s all bad."
Still, a man named Sean Lung thought Myers was pretty special. Lung tried to explain to ABC News, "We were both alone. We felt alone. And we kind of connected because of that."
After two weeks of knowing Lung, Eric turned to him and said, "I think I’m falling in love with you."
"At 6 years-old I knew I was attracted... to other people [of] my same sex," said Eric. He tried to pray away his same sex desires. He wanted to "get rid of Satan. I thought I was possessed." When that didn’t work he tried getting married and starting a family.
Back in Arizona, Ruggiano blamed her father for her "self-medicating behavior" with alcohol to try and escape the pain of his abandonment.
Meanwhile Lung had no idea his new love, Robert, was really Eric Myers. Still, he must have had some idea his lover had many secrets, especially after they moved to Canada together and Robert took on yet another identity, that of marketing strategist Chaz Olsen.
Back From the Dead
"There was never any plan to come back, just as there was never any plan to leave. It just happened." Plan or no plan, Myers decided to come back from the dead, and most of his family accepted him without question.
This was not the case for his wife and daughter. Their reaction was more severe.
His wife’s response was "Oh, my God, the Anti-Christ has returned," reporter Robert England of The Arizona Republic told ABC News. And her fury was exacerbated by the fact that Liberty Mutual was now suing her family for cashing in on Myers $800,000 life insurance policy. The life insurance company calls the entire thing a fraud; they want their money back, plus interest.
Anne Myer and her daughter think Myer should pay back the company, but Myers insists that he was not the beneficiary. That would be his father who is now dead himself.
"He’s a sick, psychotic person who has only ever acted for himself," said Ruggiano. "I don’t care that he’s gay. It bothers me that he thinks being gay is an excuse to abandon your family."
Myers insists that his choices to leave and to return were both unselfish, and not motivated by the money he came into upon his return.
"It’s not for money. It’s not for inheritance. It’s for healing," said Myers. "To live in a disguise is a horrible prison. And then to take the disguise off... it might hurt some people, but did you do it to hurt people, or did you do it to be true? And once they see that disguise off, it’s their choice to like it or hate it."
"It’s insulting to all the gay people I know and love," said Ruggiano, "for him to say, ’Well, I did it ’cause I was gay.’ I know a lot of people who would never do this. and would absolutely never blame it on their homosexuality."