(NBC) - For eight years, Chris Galvin thought he knew who Danny Kaiser was.
Galvin and Kaiser developed a friendship based on mutual interests. They met in 1994 and both men liked tennis, chess and the outdoors.
"We had lots of conversations and I thought for a good length of time, we were close friends. I would consider him one of the closest at the time," Galvin said.
While he considered Kaiser a close friend, there was always a side of himself that Kaiser protected.
"He was very cryptic about his phone. He said he wouldn't give me his phone number for the first year, until I knew him for a year and then he would give me his cell phone number," Galvin said.
Galvin and Kaiser's friendship was rooted in the here and now.
Kaiser was always reluctant to talk about his past.
"It didn't seem like he had a criminal past. It seemed like it was just the past was something that wasn't too good to him," Galvin said.
While Kaiser held his past life secret his actions would sometimes lead Galvin to wonder where his friend was from.
"We were playing on-line chess and we'd ask where someone was from and once somebody said Romania and he kind of tried to show off to me and he started talking to the person in Romanian and that raised a weird, really weird flag for me. That was like, they don't teach Romanian in the American school system," Galvin said.
While Galvin knew his friend as Kaiser, others at local tennis courts got even less of identity from him.
"He'd love to play pick-up tennis there and it seemed that everyone there knew him as Smiley and that was the nickname the he told everyone there," Galvin said.
Then in 2002, as quickly as their friendship began, it ended.
"It was just poof. Just poof, he was gone," Galvin said.
Little did Galvin realize that eight years later he would play an important role in determining the real identity of Kaiser.
When a friend noticed a photo online of a man federal authorities were investigating, he contacted Galvin.
The suspect had been arrested in Portland, OR, on suspicion of fraud.
He had applied for a passport using the stolen identity of a kidnapping and murder victim from Cincinnati, OH.
Jason Robert Evers died in 1982 when he was 3 years old.
When federal investigators questioned their suspect, he refused to give them his real name, so they released his picture and ask for tips.
"I knew in not even a half second, that's him," Galvin said about looking at the photo online. "There's no lineup needed. It didn't take too long for them to find me and I've had to talk to some investigators."
The information Galvin provided, along with other evidence, led investigators to determine the true identity of the man is Doitchin Krasev.
For the past 15 years, Krasev has lived in Virginia, the District of Columbia, Florida, North Carolina, Colorado, Idaho and Oregon.
In that time he used three different identities: Jason Evers, Dutch Kiser and Danny Kaiser.
They have also learned Krasev was brought to this country by Michael Horowitz in 1990.
Horowitz at the time was working as general counsel for the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan and was in Eastern Europe looking for marketing opportunities in the aftermath of the fall of Communism.
While in Sofia, Bulgaria, they met Krasev.
With the permission of Krasev's parents, Horowitz brought Doitchin to the United States were he was enrolled at Georgetown Day, a prestigious prep school.
He spent two years in college before dropping out and disappearing.
After his disappearance, Horowitz and his wife hired a private investigator to find him. They believe he adopted different identities to avoid being found.
Even knowing the true identity of his friend, Galvin is left with one unanswered question.
"It's why. You have someone, and I know some people fanaticize about this, I think it's a common day dream of like what if I could just move somewhere else and re-invent myself and I think what we have here is someone who actually did it," Galvin said.