CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Sunday, September 25, 2005

Not Guilty by Reason of Death?

The New York Times reports that a suspect in a decades-old civil rights killing got the heat turned off by spreading a rumor that he was dead.  This is an old trick.  There are two cases from Australia. Houstonian Larry Michael Nixon faked his death to avoid investigation of a business scam.  An Oklahoman convicted of murder in the 1990s, and now charged with raping a child, unsuccessfully faked his own death to deter investigators.  In England, a man on a sex offender registry called police and, using a pseudonym, reported that his true self had been a passenger on a wrecked train, and therefore was probably dead.  A Texas woman dug up a corpse to use as a prop in her faked car accident death, so she could flee with her husband who was facing sex charges. Lots of people seem to fake their deaths for life insurance; or to avoid paying their student loans, like this MIT grad (you wouldn't want to just not pay, because that would mess up your credit rating.) The complicated part of these schemes is that it is not clear how often they occur because the successful ones are never discovered--we know about the others because they blew up.  Cases like this one, where a ten year old alleged death is reinvestigated, seem rare.   [Jack Chin]

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