Aerospace executive Ed Greer has resurfaced seven years after abandoning his wife, two sons and the corporate life to become the vagabond beach bum his yuppie colleagues fantasized about.
"Anyone with any attachment to the human race couldn't do what he did," said the wife he left behind. "I will never forgive him for what he did to the boys."Although Greer was on the fast track at Hughes Aircraft in El Segundo, the young executive hated the white-collar, pin-stripe world. On Sept. 10, 1981, he left without a word.
"I felt trapped. I didn't like my life," Greer said Friday from Houston in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "It's something that is hard for me to imagine, even now, leaving and walking away from it all.
"This wasn't planned and certainly wasn't rational."
Before he disappeared, he told a co-worker: "Never become too good at something you hate. They'll make you do it the rest of your life."
The Greer mystery was finally solved in October by FBI agents who tracked him to Houston. He was masquerading as Kenneth Roy Hearn and working at the small Input-Output Inc. oil exploration firm.
The FBI wanted to learn why someone in Texas was using the name of Kenneth Roy Hearn of Alabama.
Greer filled in the missing years this week in a lengthy Los Angeles Times interview published Friday. "Ed Greer in my mind was gone," he said.
He left Los Angeles International Airport on a flight to Ft. Lauderdale, where he fixed boat engines and lounged at the beach. "There are a lot of pretty girls on the beach," he said.
But he eventually decided to go back to a regular job.
He got Hearn's name, Social Security number and resume by placing a newspaper ad for an engineering job that the man answered.
He said he filled in FBI agents on those details when they caught him. Under an agreement with the government, he must stay out of trouble for a year or face charges in the case.
Now, to an extent, he must face the past.
The woman he left behind, Kit Clark, is remarried and living somewhere in northern California after divorcing Greer in absentia, the Times said. She told him he could contact his sons, now 9 and 16.
After he left, his former colleagues, some of whom said they wished they had the courage to do the same, began throwing annual parties, often showing up at them wearing Ed Greer masks. Greer, now 40, said he wasn't aware of the celebrations, which attracted national media attention. If there's another, he won't make an appearance.