15 Stories of People Who Faked Their Own Deaths

Ross Quade | Death | 12 Nov, 2014 | No Comments

Playing Dead

Faking your own death is a practice that has been around for many centuries. Today, it’s much harder to indulge in such a plot, thanks to the modern marvels of technology. However, this doesn’t stop some people from giving it a shot anyway. Below, you will find the stories of 15 people who have tried to fake their own death. Some you’ll find humorous and others just plain crazy.

Lord Timothy Dexter Was a Curious Man

Back in 1798, a man by the name of Lord Timothy Dexter decided to fake his death because he was curious to know how people would react. He was a wealthy man who ran a successful export business, even without a formal education. He wrote a book called A Pickle for the Knowing Ones; or, Plain Truths in a Homespun Dress. The book was difficult to read because of its lack of punctuations. One day, he decided to announce his own death. At the funeral, 3,000 people showed up, but not his wife. He announced his hoax, then proceeded to find and cane his wife for not grieving as a prominent wife should.

Ken Kesey Fakes Suicide to Avoid Pot Bust

This is one of the more popular faked deaths in recent history. Some still alive today may remember the incident in 1965 when Ken Kesey, author and member of The Merry Pranksters, faked his own death. The reason for his faked suicide was to avoid getting busted for marijuana. He did this by parking his vehicle in Eureka, CA and left a suicide note inside that said “Ocean, Ocean I’ll beat you in the end”. But instead of falling into the depths of the deep blue sea, he ran off to Mexico. Not even a year later, after his “death”, he returned and was sentenced to five months in jail.

Corey Taylor Was Dead Serious About Not Paying His Cell Bill

A lot of us don’t like being tied into a cell phone contract and neither did Corey Taylor. Except Corey took it above and beyond by faking his death, just so that he could get out of it. He was tired of Verizon’s lackluster service and decided that he would have a friend fax in a forged death certificate to get out of his contract. However, this might’ve not been the first time they have seen this because it didn’t take them long to figure out it was a fake. And this was all for what? A $175 bill that he was forced to pay anyway.

Connie Franklin: A Witness in His Own Murder Trial

In the early 20th century, 1929 to be precise, a guy named Connie Franklin, and his girlfriend Tillar Ruminer, made headlines in Time Magazine after faking his own death. In this tale, Tillar was the surviving partner of Connie, who was supposedly murdered by a gang of five men who mutilated and burned his corpse. After which, Tillar claimed she was raped. What baffled the authorities was that there was no evidence of the crime and things in her story didn’t add up. Well as it turned out, even the true part of the story was fake. Connie was actually a father of four and a mental patient that had escaped a mental hospital to start a new life.

Allison Matera Attended Her Own Funeral

Allison was a young girl who was a part of a circle of friends and community that was churchgoing. It’s possible she wanted out, but didn’t know how to tell them, so she lied to the choir about dying of cancer. For about a year, she continued this ruse and would occasionally give them updates about her treatment in person. Then she stopped attending church and called the pastor pretending to be a nurse and said that she died on Jan. 18, 2007. During her memorial, she showed up as Allison’s sister, but no one fell for it. Her ruse quickly came to light following them recognizing her.

William Grothe Murdered Himself

William Grothe was a music attorney who decided to fake his murder back in November of 2008, so that he could get his hands on the $1 million from his life insurance policy. He left his wallet and leather jacket on the side of a river, along with a grocery bag of other items. The police figured it to be a homicide until William contacted the police pretending to be the killer. Voice recognition technology busted his case, which was matched using his outgoing voicemail message. He was then found in Missoula, Montana, where he was fined and ordered to pay $13k for the cost of his search.

Sister Aimee McPherson Fakes Going to Jesus

Another churchgoing lady, but slightly more popular, was Aimee McPherson. In the 1920s, she preached to a pulpit of 5,000 people regularly, until one day, her mother claimed that she was with Jesus after being lost in the currents of Venice Beach. About a month later, Aimee showed up fully clothed (a clue to her lies) in Douglas, Arizona, where she claimed she was kidnapped, ransomed and held in a shack down in Mexico. Things in her story didn’t match up when the shack she was held in couldn’t be found. She was charged with perjury, but after a trial, she was cleared of all charges.

Man Fakes Death and Starts a New Life 

Gandaruban Subramaniam was a man from Singapore who owned a car rental business in 1987 that was tanking. Instead of sticking around to witness his finances plummet, he ran away to Sri Lanka, where he obtained a fake death certificate, which placed his death in a shootout during the local civil war. He then had his wife move there after she collected $250,000 in insurance money and they got married again and had their fourth child. In 2007, 20 years later, he was caught trying to get back into Singapore, arrested and eventually sentenced to three years in prison.

Elvis Helps Bust Hugo Jose Sanchez’s Fake Death Stint

Hugo Sanchez was a poor man trying to get by. One day, he decided to fake his death, so that his wife could collect his pension checks. The company he worked for, HMV, a British retail giant, even flew his family down to Costa Rica where his supposed memorial would be. He met his family there and were free and clear until his friend tried to use his HMV discount card to buy an Elvis Presley CD. He was taken down to the police station, where he called Sanchez, who hung up. The plot was quickly unraveled by investigators, who arrested Hugo and his friend, who are both currently serving jail time for the ruse.

Bennie Wint Pretended to Be Dead for 20 Years for No Reason

Simply because Bennie Wint thought he was a wanted man, he went off for a swim in 1989 and never came back. His ex-wife, four year old son and fiancé all mourned his death because it was believed that he had drowned. However, 20 years later, he was pulled over by a cop because the light on his license plate wasn’t working, but thought he was getting busted. He confessed that he faked his death because of drug charges and was living a false life as William Sweet. He had remarried and had a 17 year old son. After a little research, Wint was never wanted, and there were no old charges in his name.

Husband and Wife Tag Team a Fake Death Plot

John and Anne Darwin were a married couple living in Europe. The two lived well above their means and had accrued tens of thousands of pounds of debt. So to help them get out of their financial jam, they decided to fake John’s death. On March 12, 2002, he went out in his canoe and never returned. Over a week later, the wrecked canoe was found, but he wasn’t declared dead until February 2003, which is when Anne was allowed to collect money from his insurance policy. The two paid their debts and moved to Panama to start a new life. In December of 2007, John decided to turn himself in, claiming he had lost his memory and believed he was a missing person. Three months earlier, the police started looking into his disappearance. However, the ruse was up and they found out that he was with Anne the entire time.

British Politician Fakes His Death

Politicians aren’t too big to try stunts like faking their deaths—most of the time. In the case of John Stonehouse, he was worried about the Department of Trade and Industry looking into the books that he was cooking, so he moved money to other accounts and changed his identity to Joseph Markham. He then faked his death in November, 1974, where he left a pile of his clothes on the beach making it appear as though he drowned. He moved to Australia with his mistress and was caught by a banker who noticed his money being moved under more than one name. He was arrested the day before Christmas in 1974.

Composer and Conspiracy Theorist Fakes His Death

Alexander Baker, also known as Ace, was an American composer and 9/11 conspiracy theorist. He believed that the 9/11 airplanes in the videos were faked. He also did a radio show on The Real Deal, which is hosted by Jim Feltzer. On the air, he made a reference to his deceased parents and asked his wife and children for forgiveness before he left the phone and gun shots were heard. He later called this stunt performance art.

Famous Austrian Pianist Fakes Death then Really Dies a Year Later

Friedrich Gulda was a popular pianist that was known for mixing jazz and classical music. His Beethoven interpretations were well-liked, but he was a die-hard Mozart fan. So much so that he wanted to die on Mozart’s birthday Jan. 27. Gulda was known for having a strong dislike of authorities and was labeled the “terrorist pianist”. In 1999, he faked his death, but then died for real on Mozart’s birthday in 2000.

Wannabe James Bond Fakes Death, Becomes Bestselling Author

Philip Sessarago was a military man who was in The Royal Artillery. He was determined to join the SAS, but failed the test twice. He thought of himself as a James Bond, so was really disappointed when he wasn’t accepted into the SAS. He decided to fake his death in 1993, which was caused by the detonation of a land mine in Bosnia. Philip then changed his name to Tom Carew and wrote a book called Jihad! The book was serialized and on its way to becoming a best seller. It was released the day before 9/11, which gave the book great timing, since he was proclaimed to be an expert in terrorist attacks such as that one. During a television interview in 2001, his children recognized him and blew his cover.


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