Just Another Guy with Opinions

Missing Brit Reappears After 5 Years

Posted by shadmia on December 10, 2007


Five years ago, facing financial ruin, John Darwin decided to fake his own death. He arranged to have a conoeing accident in which he was presumed dead, even though his body was never found. Five years later John Darwin walks into West End Central police station in Savile Row, Central London, claiming to have no memory of what had happened or where he had been for the last five years.

The police were not impressed by his story. John Darwin, 57, former teacher and prison guard, was arrested, charged with life insurance fraud and lying to get a false passport. They also arrested his wife Anne Darwin, 55, when she arrived on a flight from the US. She had been living in Panama.

The bizarre story began on March 21, 2002, five years ago when John Darwin took his red canoe out to sea. The couple had moved to a seafront house two years earlier with their dogs. Their sons, Mark and Anthony, had moved away and the couple told neighbors that they hoped to retire there. The North Sea was said to be unusually calm that spring day. John Darwin was reported missing when he did not return home. Hours later his damaged boat was washed up on the sandy beach. An extensive search operation was mounted along the coastline from Hartlepool to Staithes, North Yorkshire. No sign of John Darwin was ever found.

According to his wife, John had previously discussed with her the possibility of faking his own death.

“John said there was only one way out of the situation, and that was to fake his death. I pleaded with him not to do it, I said it was the wrong thing to do,” said Anne Darwin.

Apparently John decided to go ahead with it without telling his wife. Anne Darwin said she had not expected her husband to go through with the plan and genuinely thought he was dead when he disappeared.

Six months after his disappearance, Anne Darwin, a doctor’s receptionist, told a local newspaper that she could not move on without seeing her husband’s body.

“People die, have a funeral, they have a headstone, there is something to mark the fact they existed on this Earth,” she said. “But without a body, I don’t know how we can mark John’s life.”

“All I want is to bury his body. It would enable me to move on. It’s difficult to grieve without bringing things to a close, but as it is I’m in limbo and there’s nothing I can do.”

One year later John showed up at the door and pressured his wife to keep his reappearance a secret so he could have himself declared dead and allow her to collect $50,000 in life insurance. The couple were tens of thousands of dollars in debt because of the failure of their apartment rental business. After being declared dead, John Darwin moved in with her and hid in a small room reached through a concealed hole in the wardrobe of their bedroom. They did not tell their two children Mark and Anthony that John was still alive. He lived in that small room for three years without being discovered.

Anne Darwin then proceeded to sell the two properties that she had owned jointly with her husband. She met one of her neighbors, Bill Rodriguez last August and told him that she had just returned from a six-week vacation in Panama and loved it so much that she was planning to move out there full-time. It was shortly afterwards that she did migrate to Panama, where she is believed to have “hundreds of thousands of pounds” in a Panamanian bank account. Somehow her husband was able to get a passport in the name of John Jones and followed her there.

Things began to unravel when John Darwin declared he was tired of living in hiding and decided to return to Britain, claiming to have forgotten what had happened to him. Anne began talking to two newspapers, the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail and gave them the story. The Daily Mirror published a photograph of the couple, apparently taken with a real estate agent in Panama and published on the company’s Web site. Anne then took a flight back to England where she was arrested by the British police who charged her with suspicion of fraud.

Detectives have said they hope to learn how Darwin allegedly hid himself for five years and maintained contact with his wife after his staged death, and how they apparently came to be photographed together in Panama. Police said they are in contact with the couple’s two sons, who insist they had no idea their father was still alive and want nothing more to do with their parents.


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