Man Uses Another Person’s Identity for 35 Years, Causing Them to Be Imprisoned and Sent to Mental Hospital

A former University of Iowa Hospital employee admitted to stealing another man’s identity and using it for the last 35 years, thus causing that person to be arrested and committed to a mental hospital.

On April 1st, 58-year-old Matthew David Keirans pleaded guilty to federal charges that he had stolen another man’s identity and used it for the last 35 years. At the time of his arrest, Keirans was working at the University of Iowa Hospital under the name William Donald Woods, an alias he had adopted in 1988, after working with the real Woods at a hot dog cart in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It’s unclear how the 58-year-old man was able to use Woods’ identity in every aspect of his life, but court documents revealed that in 1990 he was able to a fraudulent Colorado identification card with Woods’ name and birthday, and in 1991 he bought a car in Woods’ name with two checks that eventually bounced.

After driving the stolen car to Idaho, Keirans abandoned it and used all his money from the Colorado bank using an ATM to leave the state. An arrest was issued in Woods’ name for the car theft, but court documents don’t show whether it was actually enforced. Keirans went on with his adopted life, marrying a woman in 1994 and even fathering a child whose last name is Woods.

Photo: Brett Jordan/Unsplash

In 2012, Matthew Keirans took his identity theft to a whole new level, managing to illegally acquire a copy of Woods’ birth certificate from the state of Kentucky using information he found about Woods’ family on A year later, he moved to eastern Wisconsin and started working in the IT department at the University of Iowa Hospital. Between 2016 and 2022, he took out several vehicle and personal loans in Woods’ name, totaling around $200,000.

Meanwhile, in 2019, the real William Donald Woods was a homeless man living in Los Angeles. He had recently noticed someone had accumulated significant debt using his credit card, but when he tried explaining it to his bank, a bank employee asked Woods a series of security questions that he was unable to answer. Woods gave her his real Social Security card and an Identity Card that matched the one on file, but since Kierans’ phone number was connected to the accounts, he had set up the security questions, and when he was called by the bank, he answered them correctly.

As per the bank’s protocol, after confirming that Kierans was the real Woods, the bank employee called the police and they contacted both Woods. The fake one sent the LAPD a copy of Woods’ Social Security card and birth certificate, as well as a Wisconsin driver’s license. Considering the real William Woods was homeless at the time, police sided with Kierans and arrested him for identity theft.


Photo: Ben Sweet/Unsplash

The real Woods was arrested and charged with identity theft and false impersonation, and because he kept insisting he was actually William Donald Woods, in 2020, a judge ruled that he was not mentally competent to stand trial and he was sent to a mental hospital in California. There, he was administered psychotropic medication and other mental health treatments.

In 2021, after two years in a mental institution, the real William Woods pleaded no contest to the charge of identity theft, which meant that he accepted the conviction but did not admit guilt. He was sentenced to two years in jail, with credit for the time spent in the mental hospital, and subsequently released. He was also asked to pay a few hundred dollars in fines and to stop using the name, William Woods.

By this point, Woods had become convinced that someone was using his identity, and he couldn’t just give it up as the judge had ordered him. Instead, he started reaching out to multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Hartland Police Department where Kierans lived. When pleas reached the University of Iowa Police Detective Ian Mallory, an investigation was launched.


After obtaining a copy of the exact same birth certificate from both Woods, the detective proceeded to compare their DNA to that of Woods’ real father and was finally able to find out which of them was lying. To confirm his finding, Mallory interviewed Kierans in July of last year, and when asked what his father’s name was, he accidentally gave the one of his adoptive father. It was at this moment that the detective told him about the DNA test result.

Instead of denying everything, Kierans reportedly responded by saying, “My life is over” and “Everything is gone,” and then went on to confess how he had used another person’s identity for 35 years. He was arrested the next day and charged with false use of birth certificate and providing false identification information.

A sentencing in this case has not yet been issued, but Kierans risks up to 30 years in prison for one count of false statements to a National Credit Union Administration-insured institution, and two years for aggravated identity theft.

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