If you’re having a hard time dealing with something difficult in your life what would you do? Would you talk to someone? Write in a journal? Deal with it head-on? Nah, some people, who clearly lacked the ability to manage their own problems in a healthy manner, decided that faking their own deaths (and making loved ones suffer) was the right thing to do.
NOT EVEN WITH HIS WIFE’S HELP…
When John Darwin decided to fake his own death so he could get out of debt and collect on an insurance policy, he thought he’d be in the clear. He asked his wife, Anne, for help and then faked his death in a canoe accident. The couple even hid the truth from their two young sons. John disappeared for five years until the couple took a photo together in Panama, which was posted online and was the end of their ruse. They were both caught and sentenced to over six years in jail.
JUST LIKE THE MOVIES
Financial investor Marcus Shrenker of Indiana didn’t want to pay for his wrongdoings. In order to avoid jail time for defrauding investors, Marcus decided to fake his own death in a plane crash. He leased a plane, turned on the distress signal, parachuted out, hopped onto a motorcycle, and then hid in a campground. For real. He was eventually found, sent to federal prison, and ordered to pay back the company he leased the plane from.
NOT HAPPY WITH YOUR CELL PROVIDER?
Not very many people are happy with their cell phone providers; they charge too much, not enough data, the contracts are too long, etc. Corey Taylor was really, really unhappy with Verizon Wireless. He didn’t want to pay the $175 fee to get out of his contract, so he made a fake death certificate. Did it work? Nope. Verizon figured it out and Corey had to pay the cancellation fee.
HOW TO GET OUT OF CHURCH
Alison Matera went to extreme lengths to get out of going to church. Instead of just stop showing, she pretended she had cancer and called her fellow churchgoers with updates. But she didn’t stop there. She ended up faking her own death going to her own memorial posing as her sister. No one was fooled though, and the church called in the sheriff.
GOING TO EXTREME LENGTHS
If making your loved ones mourn wasn’t enough, how about digging up dead bodies? That’s exactly what Clay Daniels did in order to get life insurance money. With the help of his wife, he dug up an 81-year-old woman’s body from the cemetery, dressed her corpse like a man, put it in a car, and pushed it off a cliff. Clay then dyed his hair and pretended to be his wife’s new boyfriend until investigators determined by DNA tests that it wasn’t Clay’s body in the car. Clay was sentenced to 30 years in jail, while his wife got 20 years.
STRANGER THAN FICTION
American writer Ken Kesey is best known for his book One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, which became a Hollywood film. His life also played out like a movie. Ken formed a group of bohos and writers called the Merry Pranksters, and when he was arrested for possession of marijuana, the Pranksters helped Ken fake his own death. After hiding out in Mexico he went back to the US where he was caugth and spent five months in jail.
STUDENT DEBT IS A BURDEN
There has to be a solution for crippling student debt. When a friend joked that writer Elizabeth Greenwood should fake her own death to get out of debt, she started researching it. She discovered it was popular, and as an experiment, got a black market death certificate from the Philippines. She went on to publish a book in 2016 about her experience, aptly called Playing Dead.
FROM FAKE SUICIDE TO MOST WANTED
When Seth Ferranti was young he got into the drug scene and was busted. He thought he could get out of prison time by faking his own suicide, even going as far as tossing his clothes and wallet in a river. The authorities discovered the hoax and put him on the US Marshal’s most wanted list. He ended up being caught and served over 20 years in prison.
HE LEFT BEHIND A CLUE
You would think that if someone’s going to fake their death they’d be sure not to leave any clues behind. Hugo Jose Sanchez wanted to collect life insurance money, and his pension to go to his wife. His wife told everyone he had died while on holiday in South America. However, he was busted when police found Hugo’s fingerprint on his own cremation certificate. Five years later he was found in Australia and sentenced to five years in jail.
CAN’T FORGET THE DETAILS
James R. Lang had everything set to fake his death in a car accident—except he forgot one major detail. He forgot about the bags of blood in the backseat, which he had planned to smear all over the car. James wanted his wife to receive the life insurance money, but when he discovered the insurance company wouldn’t pay out because of the found bags of blood, he went to the police station claiming he had amnesia. He eventually admitted what he had done, and wasn’t charged because no money had been paid out.