These men were missing, presumed dead. But when their bodies were finally found, they were still breathing!
They faked their deaths and went on the run. But then the law caught up with them…
FAKER: John Darwin
Former school teacher and prison officer John Darwin was last seen in March 2002, paddling out to sea in his canoe, near his home in Hartlepool. When he didn’t return, the rescue mission included lifeboats, police aircraft with heat-seeking equipment as well as teams of officers. To the heartbreak of his wife Anne, and their two sons, all that was recovered was the wreckage of his boat. With no body found by April 2003, an inquest into his death was held.
In December 2007, John Darwin walked into a London police station, saying ‘I think I am a missing person.’ Claiming he remembered nothing of the last five years, Darwin was reunited with his sons. Anne, now living in Panama, was told of the news and said to be delighted.
But just days later, the Daily Mirror published a front-page picture of both Anne and John in Panama together. The photo was taken in 2006 – four years after his ‘death’. The Darwins’ lie crumbled and it emerged John and Anne had concocted a fake death plot to defraud John’s life insurance and pensions. John had spent much of the time since secretly living back in the family home, and the bedsit next door, while they made plans to begin a new life in Panama. Both the devious Darwins served time for their lies.
FAKER: Marcus Schrenker
In January 2009, Marcus Schrenker took off in his single-engine plane from his home in Indiana, bound for Florida. Before long he contacted authorities, making a distress call. Reporting turbulence, he said his windshield had shattered and he was bleeding profusely. Military planes were scrambled and they found Schrenker’s plane flying with no pilot.
It then crashed in to a Florida swamp. But the wreckage showed no signs of the broken windscreen Schrenker had reported, and no dead body was found. Authorities suspected there wasn’t one, and a manhunt began.
It emerged that before his disappearance, Schrenker was living a troubled life. His wife had filed for divorce. His business as a financial adviser was in serious trouble and he was being investigated for fraud. It seemed Schrenker was a man who had every reason to disappear.
But he didn’t do a very good job of it. Schrenker was traced – alive – days later at a Florida campground, and arrested.
He’d faked his death by parachuting from the plane, and riding off in a motorbike he’d stashed in a lock-up. But his elaborate plot had failed. Schrenker ended up in front of a judge who sentenced him to 10 years for securities fraud.
FAKER: Bennie Wint
In 1989, while on holiday with his fiance at Daytona Beach, Florida, Bennie Wint, went swimming in the sea, and never returned. Fearing Bennie had got into trouble, his panicked bride-to-be alerted the lifeguard station, and a huge rescue search including boats and helicopters was launched. But Wint could not be found, and his body never washed up. As well as his fiancé, Wint left behind his 4-year-old daughter.
In 2009, a man was pulled over by North Carolina cops for a routine traffic stop. He gave the name William Sweet, but when unable to provide documents proving his identity, the man was arrested. While being interviewed by the police, he revealed his true identity – Bennie Wint. Almost 20 years since he’d vanished, Wint told police that after he’d faked his death by staging a drowning, he’d never looked back. Wint had built a new life, settling down with a common-law wife and having a son – both of whom were unaware of his true identity. Wint told officers he’d hatched his escape plan, believing the law was closing in on him for drug charges. But this was paranoia – he’d never been wanted for any charges at all.
Can you believe they nearly got away with it?