At this very moment people all over America are logging on for love. Nancy Hartz was searching for romance, sheriff's deputies say someone else was also online -- but he was searching for prey.
Almost 20 different names attached to just one man. Authorities and associates believe he's a con artist. But take a closer look. Is Robert Carnochan just a common swindler? Or could this many-faced man be hiding something much more evil?
At 71 years old, and with two marriages behind her, Kingman, Arizona local Nancy Rae Hartz had just about given up on romance. But all things being modern, the promise of love is always just a few clicks away, no matter your vintage.
"Her husband of I don't remember how many years had passed away over 10 years ago and she didn't have a whole lot of friends outside of home or in the family, and I think she was just looking for someone in her life to spend some time with," said Nancy's daughter Sherry.
Then along came a man who called himself "Ray," same as Nancy's middle name. An instant connection.
"I guess they pretty much corresponded several times every day, so it was pretty much an online relationship, and then he would come and visit with her for four days, and then would leave again and be gone for three to four months," said Sherry.
But at her age, Nancy wasn't looking for a part-time lover, and after a year or so of longing and distance, her patience was wearing thin.
"She was getting kind of tired waiting around because of his promises that he would come and see her and so she finally wrote an email that she was just about through with the situation," said Sherry. "And he was there the next day."
Ray claimed he'd flown down from his ranch in Utah as soon as he thought he might lose her. After that, Sherry says, Ray was a constant fixture in Nancy's life, a life that was about to go through a series of sudden, some might even say, apocalyptic changes.
"He had her convinced that they had to get out of Arizona, had to get out of Kingman because there were lava pits under the state, and that the financial institutions were no longer stable," said Sherry. "He got her throughout these several months convinced that the world was coming to an end."
And whether it was at Ray's insistence or not, Nancy took action. Out of the blue, she traded in her Cadillac, had her Social Security payments transferred to a debit card, and sold the home she'd lived in most of her life for $50,000 in cash.
"They were going to leave together and start this new life and go find property somewhere else," said Sherry. "She didn't know, just wherever the wind took them."
Nancy's kids tried to convince her to at least keep the house in case anything went wrong. But Nancy was set on running off with the man Sherry hadn't even met yet.
"I didn't meet Ray until right before they left. That's the only time I ever met Ray," said Sherry. "He was in the house for a few minutes and then he was outside unpacking the truck as fast as he could, and it was a very quick in and out.
"When she left my house that day I kind of had a feeling in the pit of my stomach that I might never see her again. But there was no stopping her," said Sherry. "We tried."
Before Ray drove their mom off into the sunset, Nancy's son wrote down the license plate number on his RV and filed it away, just in case.
In the first few days after Nancy left, Sherry got sick, and like most kids, regardless of age, she just wanted her mom.
"They left June 2nd. The last time we spoke with her was June 5th, and her last words to me that day were 'Well, let God's will be done, so 'OK mama, I love you,' and that was the last time I talked with her," said Sherry.
But then finally, two months after she seemed to drop off the face of the Earth, Nancy's loved ones started getting emails. She claimed to be happier than ever, living off the grid somewhere in the mountains of New Mexico.
But Nancy's kids weren't so sure.
"Just from the tone and everything of those emails, we knew that it wasn't her writing," said Sherry.
And when Sherry looked closer, she realized it wasn't even her mom's email.
"He changed around two of the letters in her email address," said Sherry. "Unless you were paying attention you wouldn't have noticed."
It was enough for sherry's sister Denise to go to authorities. But when police start digging, they get a very different story from none other than Nancy herself. Or so it seemed.
"The deputy who took the initial report was able to talk to someone who indicated that they were Nancy," said Mohave County Chief Deputy Sheriff Rodney Head. "And that they wanted to start a new life elsewhere and were not interested in having any further contact with their family. So the case really wasn't going anywhere."
It was devastating news no matter how Nancy's kids looked at it. Either someone was pretending to be their mom for who knows why, or their mom was alive and well, and suddenly wanted nothing to do with them.
Even though they had no hard evidence, what Nancy's family did have was a story, and Nancy's younger daughter Denise took it straight to Daily Miner Reporter Doug McMurdo.
After hearing all the strange details, McMurdo started typing, and soon the story of Nancy Hartz was front-page news. But even he had no way of knowing what an impact his article would have.
"After it was published there was an outpouring of concern from the community, and I know that people made Denise aware of a couple of private-eyes, and one of them, Lyle Sharman, actually started working for her and he was able to, as they say, break the case open," said McMurdo.
Private investigator Lyle Sharman had 34 missing-person cases under his belt at the time. After meeting with Nancy's kids, he made it 35.
"In this case my action plan was simple, it was try to make contact with Nancy Hartz," said Sharman. "One of the first things that I did was took a look at emails the family gave me. One email was from Nancy Hartz, the second email was from the guy that she disappeared with, who went by 'Ray.'"
Sharman got a reply from Ray almost immediately.
"He went on say that Nancy was fine, that she no longer wanted anything to do with her family," said Sharman. "I responded back to him, 'In either event I need to speak to Nancy Hartz. So just have her call me.'"
The ultimatum paid off.
"I was driving down the road, it was like three days later and my phone rang," said Sharman. "And she claimed that it was Nancy Hartz."
But the P.I. wasn't satisfied, and since he'd never heard the real Nancy's voice, he asked if they could schedule another call -- one he could record on the sly. In the meantime, Sharman had the number traced.
"So the phone number came back to an apartment complex in Las Vegas," said Sharman. "We kind of surveyed for a while and then we eventually just went to the apartment, knocked on the door. It was obvious within a couple of minutes that Nancy Hartz was not going to be at that location and the people in that apartment had absolutely nothing to do with her disappearance."
A false lead.
"What we learned about that phone number is when the account was created, Ray had obviously used someone else's address, someone else's name," said Sharman.
While Lyle Sharman waited for that next call, he got with Denise and Sherry to devise a plan.
"I said 'I want you to give me three questions that only your mother would know,'" said Sharman.
And as a wild card, Sharman decided to throw in a fourth question not even the real Nancy would know. Then after several days of anxious waiting, the call came in.
"'Hey, I hate to bother you again, I know you're kind of tired of all this and stuff, but I'm trying to do everything I can to just prove to your daughter that you're OK so I can just end this case.'"
"'OK, I have talked to Denise on the phone twice in the past month.'"
That was news to Nancy's daughter Denise, but Sharman played along, and once he established a rapport, it was time to get more personal.
"'What was the name of the old man that lived across the street when we were kids?'"
The person talking to Sharman didn't have an answer. But they did have an excuse.
"'Mainly I need to explain -- for instance the old guy that babysat, that surprised me because he molested both my girls.'"
In response to that claim?
"We used to make fun of him and call him 'bird-watcher,'" said Denise.
"'What did my papa call me?'"
Surely Denise's own mother would remember something like that. Instead?
"'He couldn't stand her, because she was the result of an affair that I had,'" quoted Sharman.
"My papa was my grandfather, and he used to call me his 'Durango Doll,'" said Denise. "So that's mind-blowing to me."
Questions three and four produced even more suspicious answers. But it was this one that really got Sharman's attention.
"'The color of the Dodge Charger that you drove when they were little, was that a legitimate question, or...'"
"'I did have a Charger and it was that bluish-green color.'"
Not only was the real car a completely different color --
"She never owned a Dodge Charger," said Sharman. "My mother owned a Dodge Charger. I made the question up from my own family."
But then it didn't really matter what the person was saying. Nancy's daughters only needed to hear the voice.
"The first two words that came out of her mouth, we looked at each other and the tears just rolled down our faces. We knew that was not our mother on that recording," said Sherry.
At Lyle Sharman's insistence, Denise sets up another meeting with the sheriff's office, and after listening to the new evidence, they agreed to reopen the investigation. One of the first things Nancy's family gives them is that license plate number her son wrote down just seconds before Ray drove Nancy off to destination unknown.
"When we started looking into Ray, we found that the name he was using was actually a stolen identity from an individual in the eastern part of the United States," said Mohave County Chief Deputy Sheriff Rodney Head.
That name was James Browning Wyeth, and the individual it belongs to is actually a famous painter in the art world.
"He was even using his real Social Security number and his date of birth," said Sharman. "So we reached out to the real James Wyeth, and he ended up filing some reports."
Authorities begin searching for the man of many aliases, knowing he could be anywhere from Mexico to Montana. Or he could be right next door.
"He was arrested on the 13th of April in Yucca, Arizona," said Daily Miner Reporter Doug McMurdo.
Yucca is just 22 miles from Kingman, where Nancy disappeared.
"We were able to arrest him on the stolen identity and false information charges," said Head.
He was found living with a woman who, like Nancy, had just sold all of her belongings to start a new life with this mystery man.
"We don't believe she's an accomplice at all," said Head. "She's been very cooperative and we certainly believe that she could have been the next victim."
Crime Watch Daily tried to track down the woman for comment, only to find she's gone back to her family in California.
As for the man she may have just narrowly escaped, his real name is Robert Carnochan, a Canadian citizen who has somehow been living illegally in the U.S. since 1993. He had as many as 18 aliases, according to Chief Deputy Head.
"He's very good at playing someone else," said Head.
But is Carnochan just a con man, or something much worse?
"He has admitted that he knows Nancy," said Head. "He claims that the last time he saw her was about a month before he was arrested."
"He dropped her off at a local business and never saw her again, according to him," said McMurdo.
So where is she? When police searched Carnochan's home in Yucca, they found several guns, one with the serial number filed off.
And that's not all.
"We did find some things that belonged to Nancy," said Head "We're not [able to share what that is], not at this time."
The fake calls, the new woman -- for Sherry, it all adds up to one very tragic conclusion.
"I know what he did to her," said Sherry. "There isn't a body yet and I don't understand why he had to do that. Why couldn't you have just taken all of her money if that's what you wanted? Take it, it's just flippin' money."
For now, that's only speculation. But just weeks ago, police also found a few very big new clues, clues that changed the entire course of the investigation. On a computer in the Yucca home, deputies discovered the names and numbers of at least two different women.
"We began trying to find these women. Whether there was anything about this gentleman that they could help us with, so that maybe we could find Nancy," said Head. "And what we found was that these ladies are also missing."
Were Robert Carnochan's many aliases concealing one very deadly identity?
"We certainly have someone that would fit in that range, yes," said Head.
Robert Carnochan was arrested for forgery, identity theft and weapons charges.
Police were about to learn Nancy Hartz wasn't the man's only missing mate.
"As far as we can tell he would find his way into the lives of older women, and he wanted to have a life with them," said Head.
While searching for clues to Nancy's disappearance, deputies came across the names of at least two different missing women: Las Vegas local Neva Lindley, 77, who was last seen in 2011; and Dolan Springs, Arizona resident Verna Clayton, 73, last seen in 2008.
Three women are missing, and the only thing that they have in common is Robert Carnochan.
"He is a really good con man, and we do believe there is something more sinister at play," said Head.
According to the suspected scam artist himself, the last time he saw any of the women, they were alive and well. So then why has no one heard from them since?
"I believe it's much bigger than someone just left home because they wanted to start a new life," said Chief Deputy Head.
The Mohave County Sheriff's Department is currently working with several agencies, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, to unravel the mystery of Robert Carnochan, and to help fill in certain blanks. Like, if it wasn't Nancy Hartz making those phone calls, who was it?
"If a voice imprint can be done on not just that recording, but recordings of his actual voice, we're having that done as we speak," said Head.
In addition, private investigator Lyle Sharman continues to work the case, and began searching the northern Arizona desert with cadaver dogs in May.
"I'm confident that there's other victims out there," said private investigator Lyle Sharman.
To date, police will only say that Robert Carnochan is an official person of interest in the women's disappearances, but investigators are building their case and asking for help from anyone who may recognize his face.
"We hope that anyone who sees the suspect's photographs and has had dealings with him will contact us," said Mohave County Chief Deputy Sheriff Rodney Head.
For now, Robert Carnochan is in jail on a $32,000 bond after pleading not guilty to all charges.
The Mohave County Sheriff's Department wants you to take a good hard look at Robert Carnochan because they believe there are more victims out there, people who may have been conned by him, or maybe even worse.
Contact the department at (928) 753-0753, or submit a tip to Crime Watch Daily. You can also call or text our toll-free number at (844) 800-CRIME.