Faked death

Jump to search

A faked death, also called a staged death and pseudocide,[1][2][3] is a case in which an individual leaves evidence to suggest that they are dead to mislead others. This is done for a variety of reasons, such as to fraudulently collect insurance money, to avoid capture by law enforcement for some other crime, escape from being held hostage by abductors or as a practical prank. Unless in the furtherance of some other crime (such as fraud or avoiding debt or jail), faking one's own death is not necessarily illegal.

People who fake their own deaths sometimes do so by pretend drownings, because it provides a plausible reason for the absence of a body.

Notable faked deaths

18th century

  • Timothy Dexter was an eccentric 18th-century New England businessman probably best-known for his punctuationless book A Pickle for the Knowing Ones or Plain Truth in a Homespun Dress. However, he is also known for having faked his own death to see how people would react. His wife did not shed any tears at the wake, and as a result he caned her for not being sufficiently saddened at his passing.[4]

20th century

  • John Stonehouse, a British politician who in November 1974 faked his own suicide by drowning to escape financial difficulties and live with his mistress. One month later, he was discovered in Australia. Police there initially thought he might be Lord Lucan (who had disappeared only a few weeks earlier, after being suspected of murder) and jailed him.[5]. Sent back to Britain, he was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison for fraud.[6].
  • David Friedland, a former New Jersey senator, faked his own death via scuba-diving accident in 1985 while awaiting trial on racketeering charges. In December 1987, he was arrested by officials in Maldives, where he had been working as a scuba dive master and had posed in scuba gear for a picture post card. He eventually was returned to the United States and served nine years in prison.
  • Charles Mulet, a corrupt Louisiana policeman, had been accused of molesting a teenage girl in 1988. Mulet left his truck alongside a bridge and sent a note to his police department. The suicide was ruled inconclusive after police failed to find a corpse in the river, and a hiker reported to police a man opening fire on him without warning, whose description matched Mulet's. The case being profiled on Unsolved Mysteries led to Mulet's capture.
  • Francisco Paesa, agent of Centro Nacional de Inteligencia, the Spanish secret service. In 1998 he faked a fatal cardiac arrest in Thailand, after having tricked Luis Roldán, known for being the general of the Spanish Civil Guard when a big scandal of corruption arose in 1993, into stealing all the money that Roldán had previously stolen in that case. He appeared in 2004. During these years, he opened an offshore company, as it was exposed thanks to Panama Papers.

21st century

  • John Darwin, a former teacher and prison officer from Hartlepool, England faked his own death on 21 March 2002 by canoeing out to sea and disappearing. His ruse fell apart in 2006 when a simple Google search revealed a photo of him buying a house in Panama. Darwin was arrested and charged with fraud.[7] His wife, Anne, was also arrested and charged for helping Darwin to collect his life insurance of £25,000.
  • Samuel Israel III, an American hedge fund manager who was facing twenty years in prison for fraud, left his car and a suicide note on the Bear Mountain Bridge in an attempted fake suicide in April 2008. His girlfriend later confessed to aiding in the deception, and Israel surrendered himself to authorities on July 2. It was always suspected that his suicide was faked since, among other things, passersby reported that a car had picked someone up on the bridge from near Israel's abandoned car. Two years were added to Israel's sentence, which he is currently serving.
  • Marcus Schrenker, a financial manager from Fishers, Indiana, was charged with defrauding clients, and in 2009 attempted to fake his own death in a plane crash to avoid prosecution. The plane crash was quickly discovered to be staged, and Schrenker was captured after a multi-state, three-day manhunt that followed.[8][9][10] In October 2010, after pleading guilty to state charges, Schrenker was sentenced to 10 years in prison and was fined $633,781[11]
  • Arkady Babchenko, a Russian journalist living in Ukraine who in 2018 faked his own assassination, which was widely reported in the international press, as part of a sting operation aimed at exposing an agent sent to kill him. Babchenko's appearance at a press conference the day after his "death" caused an international sensation.[12]
  • Lucian Ludwig Kozminski, Polish-American Holocaust survivor convicted of swindling other survivors out of restitution money. Alleged to have died in 1993 but authorities believe he is still alive.[13]

Faked deaths in fiction


  1. ^ https://www.livescience.com/22473-faking-death-crime-law.html
  2. ^ "Pseudocide: The Art of Faking Your Death". Psychology Today. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  3. ^ "Pseudocide definición y significado - Diccionario Inglés Collins". www.collinsdictionary.com. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  4. ^ Todd, William Cleaves Timothy Dexter. Boston, Massachusetts: David Clapp & Son., 1886: 6.
  5. ^ Robertson, Geoffrey (1999). The Justice Game. London: Vintage. pp. 62–63. ISBN 978-0-09-958191-8.
  6. ^ MP planned fake death for months, 29 December 2005, BBC, retrieved at 2 September 2014
  7. ^ [1] CNN
  8. ^ Johnson, Dirk (2009). "A Man With Everything, Including a Lot to Flee". The New York Times.
  9. ^ Jay Reeves and Rick Callahan for the Associated Press, via Yahoo news. Jan 13, 2009. "Investors Complained About Missing Ind. Pilot
  10. ^ Brooke Baldwin, Kevin Bohn, Kathleen Johnston and Tristan Smith for CNN. January 14, 2009 Affidavit: Fugitive pilot seemed ready to stay on run
  11. ^ Staff, RTV6/ABC. October 8, 2010 Schrenker Sentenced To 10 Years In Prison
  12. ^ "'Murdered' Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko is alive". BBC News. 30 May 2018. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  13. ^ https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2000-aug-20-me-7661-story.html

Further reading

This page was last updated at 2021-04-09 00:08, update this pageView original page

All information on this site, including but not limited to text, pictures, etc., are reproduced on Wikipedia (wikipedia.org), following the . Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License


If the math, chemistry, physics and other formulas on this page are not displayed correctly, please useFirefox or Safari