Wife of man accused of faking death arrested
MANCHESTER, England (AP) ” Police arrested a British woman on suspicion of fraud Sunday after she claimed her husband died five years earlier in a canoeing accident and cashed in his life insurance. The husband reappeared last weekend.
British police arrested Anne Darwin, 55, once her flight from Atlanta touched down at Manchester airport. They said they hoped she could shed new light on her husband’s whereabouts since he was declared officially dead from a capsized canoe in the North Sea in 2002.
She was undergoing a medical examination Sunday after being transferred to Cleveland, a region about 250 miles north of London where she would likely be questioned Monday in the investigation.
John Darwin, 57, turned up in London last weekend. He walked into a police station and claimed to have amnesia. He was charged Saturday with fraud and acquiring a passport in a false name, and will appear in court Monday.
Detectives have said they hope to learn how Darwin allegedly hid himself for five years and maintained contact with his wife after his death, and how they apparently came to be photographed together in Panama. His wife had been living there in recent months, but left the Central American country on Wednesday.
Two British newspapers, the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail, claimed to have interviewed the woman repeatedly since her husband’s appearance. The newspapers quoted her as saying the couple had tens of thousands of dollars of debts.
The papers quoted her as saying her husband told her the only one way out of debt was to fake his death and that she had pleaded with him not to do it.
According to the newspapers’ account, Darwin’s wife said she had not expected her husband to go through with the plan ” and genuinely thought he was dead when he disappeared. But a year later, her husband came knocking at her door.
The newspapers said she told them her husband pressured her to keep his reappearance a secret so he could have himself declared dead. That would allow her to collect about $50,000 in life insurance and lift the burden of her mortgage.
They quoted her as saying that after authorities officially declared him dead, her husband moved in with her and hid in a small room reached through a concealed hole in their bedroom, and that he hid in the house for three years.
According to the newspapers, she said the two moved to Panama this year and that her husband was tired of living in hiding and decided to return to Britain, claiming to have forgotten what had happened to him.
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.
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.