10 Strange Stories of People Who Faked Their Own Deaths
1. Connie Franklin: Called As Witness in Own Murder Trial
It was a sensation that captured the nation. In 1929, a drifter named Connie Franklin and his girlfriend Tillar Ruminer were captured by thugs in the Ozarks of Arkansas on their way to get hitched. He was murdered, his corpse mutilated and burned and she was raped – or at least that's the story she told. Five men were put on trial for this heinous crime, but things didn't add up. Not only was there no evidence that a crime had been committed, but Connie himself began to appear around town looking for work. He denied that he was the murdered man, and Tillar said she didn't recognize him. The trial created a circus-like atmosphere, and even Time Magazine ran a story. Connie took the stand, swearing he wasn't the murdered man. And he was right… sort of. It turns out his real name was Marion Franklin Rogers, father of four, who had escaped from a nearby mental hospital and had tried to start a new life. The men were found not guilty, and the exasperated judge ordered the records burned.
2. Lord Timothy Dexter: 3000 People Came To His Phony Funeral
“Lord” Timothy Dexter (he apparently bestowed the title upon himself) built a fortune from a successful export business. He was born in 1748 and, even though he had no formal education, wrote a book when he was 50, entitled “A Pickle for the Knowing Ones; or Plain Truths in a Homespun Dress." Even though it was almost indecipherable because of its lack of punctuation, it proved popular and was reprinted in 8 editions. One day, he wondered what people might say or do after he passed to the Great Beyond, so he made the announcement of his own death. Three thousand people came to the funeral, but apparently Dexter was unhappy that his wife did not grieve properly so he refused to make a surprise appearance at the wake and later beat her with a cane.
3. Ken Kesey: Faked Suicide, “Flew” Over The Border To Escape Pot Bust
He is perhaps the most famous faker on this list. Ken Kesey, author of the classic novel "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" and member of the 60's counterculture group, The Merry Pranksters, staged his own death in 1965 to avoid being busted for marijuana. Parking his car near a bluff in Eureka, CA, he left a suicide note which read “Ocean, Ocean I'll beat you in the end” and fled to Mexico. When he returned, less than a year later, he was sent to jail for 5 months.
4. Corey Taylor: Pretended To Be Dead To Get Out Of Cell Phone Contract
"The bill is HOW much???"
We all hate paying our wireless bill, but would you go THIS far? Corey Taylor was tired of the crappy service he was getting from Verizon, and since he heard that dead men pay no bills, he had a friend fax in a doctored death certificate. It didn't take too long for the company to figure out he was lying, and he eventually forked over the $175 he owed them. But, positioning himself as a champion of the irate consumer, he later said, “I bet I sent a definite message about how much people hate being strapped to a cell phone that doesn't work.”
5. Allison Matera: Faked Death But Attended Funeral
Allison Matera was just too nice. She couldn't figure out a way to politely tell her churchgoing friends and community that she wanted out. So, instead, she told her choir she was dying of cancer. She kept the ruse going for almost a year. For a while, she would give them updates on her treatment in person. When she stopped going to church, Matera told everyone she was checking in to a hospice to die. Finally she phoned the pastor, posing as a nurse, and informed him of her “death” January 18, 2007. But I guess she missed the old gang, and appeared at her own funeral, pretending she was a sister. The jig was up shortly thereafter.
6. William Grothe: Posed as His Own Murderer
William Grothe, a prominent Nashville music attorney, took the playing dead thing one step further. His wife reported him missing on November 19, 2008. His wallet and leather jacket were found alongside the river, as well as a grocery bag containing more items. To make sure police got the message that he was dead, on November 24, he allegedly called up the police and claimed he was the man that murdered Grothe; his voice was matched against his outgoing voicemail message. He was later found in Missoula, Montana and ordered to pay the $13,000 it cost to search for him.
7. Aimee Semple McPherson: Pretended To Die and Went To…?
She was one of the most popular evangelists of her time. The Los Angeles-based “Sister” Aimee McPherson preached regularly to a pulpit of 5,000 believers. On May 18, 1926, her mother announced that her daughter was “with Jesus” after getting caught up in the currents near Venice Beach. Mourning and manhunts followed. A little over a month later, however, she appeared in Douglas, Arizona, claiming to have been kidnapped, ransomed, and held in a shack in Mexico. But many things in her story didn't jibe: she disappeared wearing a swimsuit, yet she was fully-corseted when she re-appeared, the shack she insisted was her prison could not be located, either. The D.A. charged her with perjury and a sensational trial followed. Witnesses claimed she was having an affair with her radio operator, Kenneth Ormiston, but she denied it all. She was eventually cleared of the charges and never told anyone what had really happened.
8. Gandaruban Subramaniam: Faked Death for 20 Years, Remarried Wife, and Had Another Child
Gandaruban Subramaniam's story began in Singapore in 1987, when his car rental business went under. He fled to Sri Lanka, where he was able to obtain a fake death certificate claiming that he was killed in a shoot-out in the local civil war. This allowed his wife to claim almost $250,000 in insurance money. But he missed the missus, and was able to remarry her in Sri Lanka (using a phony passport) and father their fourth child. He was eventually caught in 2007 trying to re-enter Singapore 20 years later. His wife eventually divorced him and he was jailed for 3 years.
9. Hugo Jose Sanchez: Faked Death, Caught Because of Elvis CD Purchase
He would have gotten away with it, if it hadn't been for… Elvis? Hugo Jose Sanchez worked for British retail giant HMV, yet was somehow so poor he could barely put food on the table for his family. That's when he hatched the scheme to pretend to die of a heart attack and move the family to Costa Rica. The company bought the lie, even flying his wife to Ecuador for a supposed memorial, and, most importantly, began doling out his hefty pension. But his nefarious scheme began to unravel when a friend attempted to use Hugo's HMV discount card to purchase a CD by Elvis Presley. The friend even called Hugo from the police station, but Hugo hung up. Investigators quickly unraveled the plot, eventually arrested them, and they both served time behind bars.
10. Bennie Wint: Faked Death For 20 Years For No Reason
Bennie Wint thought he was a wanted man, so he went. On the eve of his marriage to Patricia Hollingsworth in 1989, he went for a swim, and never came back. He was presumed drowned, and his fiance, his ex-wife, and his four-year-old son mourned for him. Twenty years later, he was pulled over for not having a light bulb on his license plate, and he couldn't help but confess his sins. He told the police he had slipped away and “had never looked back” because he thought he was wanted on drug charges. Living under the name William Sweet, he remarried and had a 17-year-old-son. It turns out, he wasn't wanted on drug charges after all, so the whole affair was for naught. This guy had a LOT of explaining to do