Missing Air Force officer with top-secret clearance found after 35 years

A U.S. Air Force officer with top-secret clearance was reportedly found 35 years after he was declared missing.  

Capt. William Howard Hughes Jr., who disappeared in 1983 and was living under an assumed name in California, was discovered this month after a passport fraud investigation found inconsistencies with his identity, according to CNN.


"On June 5, during a passport fraud investigation, the US Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service interviewed an individual claiming to be Barry O'Beirne. After being confronted with inconsistencies about his identity, the individual admitted his true name was William Howard Hughes Jr., and that he deserted from the US Air Force in 1983," the Air Force Office of Special Investigations told CNN. 

The report notes that Hughes was officially declared a deserter on Dec. 9, 1983, after he returned from duty in Europe. He had been last seen in New Mexico, where he withdrew nearly $30,000 from his bank account at 19 different branch locations.

At the time of his disappearance, the Air Force said Hughes had a "Top Secret/Single Scope Background Investigation" clearance. 

"Capt. Hughes claimed that in 1983 he was depressed about being in the Air Force so he left, created the fictitious identity of O'Beirne and has been living in California ever since."

Hughes was taken into custody by special agents from the Travis Air Force Base and is being held at the military base. CNN reports that it remains unclear what charges he will face.