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A faked death occurs when an individual leaves evidence to suggest that they are dead in order to mislead others. This may be done for a variety of reasons, such as to fraudulently collect insurance money or avoid capture by law enforcement for some other crime.
People who fake their own deaths sometimes do so by ostensibly drowning, because it provides a plausible reason for the absence of a body. There are several how-to books on the subject of faking one's death, including Get Lost!, How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found, How to Create a New Identity, and The Heavy Duty New Identity.
Notable faked deathsEdit
- John Stonehouse, a British politician who faked his own suicide by drowning in order to escape financial difficulties and live with his mistress. He was discovered in Australia - where police initially thought he might be Lord Lucan - and jailed.
- "Lord" Timothy Dexter, an eccentric 18th century New England businessman who faked his own death in order 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.
- Connie Franklin, the "Arkansas Ghost", disappeared in 1929 and was reported to have been murdered. Later that year he was discovered to be living in a nearby county and brought to testify at his own murder trial.
- Graham Cardwell, a Lincolnshire dockmaster who disappeared in September 1998 and was assumed drowned. Eight months later he was discovered living in secret in the West Midlands. He claimed he had thought he was suffering from cancer (though had not sought medical attention) and wanted to spare his family the trauma of it. He was not prosecuted.
- Alan Kirk Wolford, an American funeral home director who forged his own death certificate in order to evade significant debts.
- Steven Chin Leung, who faked his death in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in order to evade a charge of passport fraud.
- Dorothy Johnson, an American woman who allegedly faked her death in the September 11 attacks in order to collect on insurance claims allegedly filed by her daughter, Twila McKee. Johnson and McKee were charged in 2003 with insurance fraud.Template:Citation broken
- Ken Kesey, an American author who in 1966 faked his death and fled to Mexico in an unsuccessful attempt to avoid imprisonment on marijuana charges.
- John Darwin, a Briton who disappeared in March 2002 whilst canoeing and was assumed drowned until his discovery and arrest five years later and his trial and conviction the year after.
- Ace Baker, an American composer and 9/11 conspiracy theorist, faked suicide by gunfire while on a live radio show with Jim Fetzer. Baker later admitted the stunt on his blog, calling it a work of performance art, citing his frustration with the rest of the 9/11 Truth Movement.
- Marcus Schrenker.
- 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 2008. A year later he surrendered himself to authorities after tiring of life as a fugitive. It was always suspected that his suicide was faked since, among other things, passers by reported that a car had picked someone up on the bridge from near Israel's abandoned car.
- In William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet, one of the two titular characters, Juliet Capulet, fakes her own death to avoid marrying Paris, although ultimately, this leads to demise of her lover Romeo Montague and herself.
- Sherlock Holmes pretends that his encounter at the Reichenbach Falls was fatal, in order to go incognito for two years. After his return in The Adventure of the Norwood Builder he cleared his client who had been framed for the murder by someone who had not died.
- The faked suicide of the hero is central to the popular British novel and subsequent BBC sitcom The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin written by David Nobbs.
- At the end of season 4 of the TV series 24, Jack Bauer stages his own death in order to save his life.
- At the end of season 6 of the TV series Monk, in the episode Mr. Monk Is On The Run, Adrian Monk stages his own death (when he is framed for a murder) to solve the case.
- The Illusionist.
- In the movie You Don't Mess with the Zohan, the main character Zohan Dvir (Adam Sandler) fakes his death during a fight with an enemy to run away to New York to become a hairdresser under the alias "Scrappy Coco."
- In Janet Tashjian's novel The Gospel According to Larry, teen prophet Josh Swensen A.K.A. "Larry", after having his secret identity revealed to the public, cannot handle the pressure of being a celebrity, and he decides to fake his death. He secretly travels to Colorado, switching identities along the way.
- Felicia Tilman, character from ABC's Desperate Housewives, faked her own death by severing two of her fingers in an attempt to convince police the her sister's exonerated murderer had in fact murdered her instead. She was discovered years later and sentenced to a minimum of two years in prison.
- Amanda Woodward and Peter Burns, characters of TV series Melrose Place, fake their own deaths in the series finale to avoid imprisonment.
- In the manga series BLEACH the main antagonist Sosuke Aizen fakes his own death in order to create social unrest in the Soul Society. He later reveals that his death was faked when he openly betrays Soul Society and flees to Hueco Mundo to lead the Hollows.
- In seasons 7-8 of the TV series Charmed, the Halliwell sisters fake their own deaths so that both the real world and the magical community will leave them alone to pursue normal lives.
- In Frank Oz's movie What About Bob?, Bill Murray's character fakes his own death to learn the location of his psychiatrist's (Richard Dreyfuss) summer vacation spot, and proceeds to go there.
- In Eastenders Dirty Den faked his death to protect his family from a gang. For fourteen years it was believed he was dead.
- In Home and Away Vinnie Patterson, Peter Baker and Hugo Austin all had their deaths faked to get into witness protection.
- In an episode of The Simpsons, Krusty the Clown fakes his own suicide in order to avoid bankruptcy for the back taxes he owed.
- In Hollyoaks, Jack Osborne fakes his own death to collect insurance money.
- In J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, a character named Peter Pettigrew fakes his own death after betraying the main protagonist's parents.
- In an episode of Happy Days entitled Fonzie's Funeral Fonzie fakes his own death to help catch local gangsters