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Has anyone successfully faked their own death?
February 12, 2008 10:44 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone ever succeeded in faking their own death?

We've often heard that Andy Kaufman/Elvis/Hendrix/whoever actually lives. I started wondering if anybody famous has ever succeeded in faking their own death. Then, after a quick glance through AskMe, I began to wonder, has anybody at all succeeded in faking their own death for any length of time?

(for those of who don't want to read the AskMe link, the man in the question who attempted to fake his death was found out shortly after the question was posted)
posted by Ndwright to Grab Bag (13 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
If they were successful... how would you know?

John Darwin pulled it off for five years; I'd call that a pretty good run.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:49 AM on February 12, 2008 [3 favorites]

Well, if the really, truly succeeded, we wouldn't know because everyone would think they were actually dead.

That said, my aunt dated a guy about five years ago that fell off his boat on a boating trip and was assumed dead. If I recall correctly, it was very hinky how it all happened, but my aunt was really devastated. He was, I believe, "officially" dead for almost two years before the IRS (whom he was avoiding in the first place) caught up with him.
posted by mostlymartha at 10:49 AM on February 12, 2008

There are at least a few out there, like this guy who faked his death to avoid child support for 25 years, and this guy who faked his death--kind of--to avoid student loans for a dozen years.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:51 AM on February 12, 2008

Wikipedia has a list of premature obituaries, which lists people who faked their own deaths successfully enough to get them published.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:52 AM on February 12, 2008

Lord Lucan, presumably.
posted by parmanparman at 11:22 AM on February 12, 2008

a New Jersey politician faked his death in a scuba accident in florida after being set to be sentenced for taking kickbacks from teamsters and got away with it for 2 years till caught in 1987 off the coast of india...

(NY Times article, I'm crap with links)
posted by jeffe at 11:48 AM on February 12, 2008

Just found alive this week, this guy had been 'dead' for 6 years after 'committing' suicide.
posted by DOUBLE A SIDE at 12:16 PM on February 12, 2008

Tomorrowful has a point: if they were truly successful, none of us would know.

There were rumors in the 19th Century that Michel Ney had escaped from France after 1815, emigrated to the US, lived here under an assumed name, and eventually died of old age. But how would we know for sure?
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:26 PM on February 12, 2008

Aimee Semple was at the height of her fame at the time of her fake abduction and presumed death. She was convincing enough that people died for real while searching for her body. When she eventually resurfaced, it was with a very lame cover story.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 1:56 PM on February 12, 2008

If they were successful... how would you know?

Well, I suppose we could count it as successful if you got away with it until you actually died, but then it was revealed somehow, so that we would know about it. In other words, it's a successful faked death if you manage to remain dead for the rest of your life.
posted by beagle at 1:58 PM on February 12, 2008

Double post. And the original was deleted. Also similar.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 3:06 PM on February 12, 2008

Olivia Newton John's boyfriend. Maybe.
posted by HotPatatta at 6:00 PM on February 12, 2008

Dr. Syn, possibly.
posted by Oriole Adams at 7:19 PM on February 12, 2008

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