I Escaped My Life: Runaway Family Man

Part 1: In 1991, Eric Myers, a successful husband and father of five, vanished into thin air.
6:47 | 07/19/13

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Transcript for I Escaped My Life: Runaway Family Man
Good evening, this week a stunning defection of sorts. Sitcom actress leah remini leaving the church of scientology after some three decades as a member starting at the age of 9. It is making magazine covers and headlines and it made us wonder how hard is it to leave, in essence, to escape something that is at the very core of your being. So we start tonight with a twisted family story, a one-time cold case that is suddenly red hot again and heading to court this summer. In a mix a grieving family worth millions, forged identities and a death certificate, but no dead body. Here's deborah roberts. People grow up thinking that magic is an illusion and that people can't disappear. And I grew up in a reality where people do disappear. Reporter: It's easy to assume that under the unblinking arizona sun, no secret can stay hidden from the light of day. BUT ON THE MORNING OF JUNE 25th, 1991, when eric myers left home for work, he stepped right into a mystery that would haunt his family for decades. How could this guy just vanish? That's the question, do people just vanish without a trace? Reporter: Robert anglen, investigative reporter for "the arizona republic." In this case, that's what appears to have happened. A healthy, successful american man with a wife and kids fell off the face of the earth. Reporter: Our story begins with a one-way trip. Eric departs from the phoenix airport, headed for a business conference in san diego. But days later, he's m.I.A. His daughter, kirsten, just 8 years old at the time, can't comprehend why daddy disappeared. I think probably because of my age, I think it's safe to say I took it the hardest. I was just really sad. Reporter: Did you cry yourself to sleep? Did you -- every night. I remember screaming that i wanted him back every night for weeks. Reporter: Eric's parents, especially his mom joann, are dumbfounded. Well, you know you have to keep going for your other children, and you have to survive and -- yeah, yeah, it was -- it was very hard and very hard. Reporter: Eric myers did not appear to be a magnet for trouble. A handsome real estate manager, he and wife anne were the picturcess. Five children, two homes and five cars including a classic alpha romeo. Eric appeared to have it all. And loved it. Everybody who knew him thought that he was living the dream, living the american dream. Reporter: And money was no concern. Eric was an heir to his father's booming real estate business. He had every advantage, the best schools, the best neighborhoods, the best toys. Reporter: And he was a fundamentalist christian who seemingly defined the term "family values." He became very religious so the church became a critical point in his life. Eric always really wanted to do the right thing he wanted to be the best father and best father and best christian. So they began investigating in two states but remember it's THE EARLY '90s. ♪ Come on vogue." Reporter: With madonna ruling the pop charts, the smartphone is a thing of the future, and there is no social media or gps to help track missing people. What did they find out in those first few days of investigation? The rental car was abandoned. It was found in a seedy part of san diego. His wallet was found in an area where junkies would throw trash. And then a month after he disappeared, these three canceled checks surfaced. Reporter: Was eric myers murdered in a random mugging, or perhaps the real estate heir had been targeted for kidnapping. They find out that he checked out of his hotel on the first day of the conference but continued going. But nobody knows where he is. Nobody knows where he went. Reporter: Police also consider an outlandish theory. The story goes that eric at some point had rescued a woman from a violent biker gang who was trying to flee that subculture, and he had taken her in and given her shelter, and that the bikers had threatened his life. Reporter: But those leads all turn into dead ends, and the case goes cold. Meanwhile, eric myers' family is in tatters. And was there any consoling? Was there anything? Oh, yeah. I mean, my mom did everything she could, but what was she going to do other than just hold me and tell me that it was going to be okay? Reporter: Weeks dissolve into months then years with no sign of daddy. So anne and her kids are forced to move on, celebrating birthdays, proms, graduations all without eric. Anne myers declined our recent request for an interview, but once spoke with robert anglen. This case is cold, as cold as ice. Anne meyers is moving through her career. The family never holds a memorial service for eric, but they do have him declared legally dead. Reporter: With no body, no funeral, nothing except this death certificate to mark his passing, eric myers' life comes to an unceremonious close on JUNE 30th, 1996. His family cashes out an insurance policy worth close to a million dollars. But now when there should finally be closure, there is not. Troubling questions remain. Anne never believed he was dead in the beginning, but as the years passed, what she told me was she wanted him to be dead. She wanted him to be dead, and she wanted him to die unmourned, unloved, and unsung. Reporter: And as time went on? I stopped crying. Reporter: Did you assume that he'd died? No. The only logical conclusion that I could come to was, you know, it's a lot easier to find a dead body than it is to find a living one. And if a living body doesn't want to be found, then it means it doesn't want to be here. Reporter: Could it really be that eric myers wasn't murdered after all? That he'd simply walked out on his wife, his kids, his parents? And if so, why? It would take time, a trip to mexico and this nude model to explain everything. It sounds like he pulled off the great escape act of the century. Yeah, he pulled off the great

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