The crew of the “Freedom” say he signed onboard the boat and was not seen or heard from since. It took days for him to be officially reported as missing; this after his wallet, passport (in the name of McDermott) and other personal items were found in a fanny pack left aboard the fishing boat. His SUV was found parked at the marina, but the whereabouts of Patrick McDermott, a man who has recently filed for bankruptcy, who owed 10’s of thousands of dollars for credit card purchases and car payments, and who was months behind in child support payments for his then 13-year-old son, have been unknown for over four years, until today. At least if you believe the private investigators that say they have finally located him alive and well and living in Mexico while working, of course, on a fishing boat.
At the time of his disappearance, McDermott was believed to have either been the victim of an accidental drowning (he somehow fell off the boat unseen by the other 25 people onboard), or he was the victim of foul play (again, wouldn’t some of his fellow passengers and fishermen have noticed some type of altercation that lead up to his murder), or he may have committed suicide (but no one who knew him has said he spoke of suicide or seemed overly depressed). Or did he plan and successfully fake his own disappearance, hoping to be declared legally dead to cancel his debts and provide his son with the proceeds of his $151,000 life insurance, thereby enabling McDermott to begin life anew, this in the name of Patrick Kim, the name on a U.S. passport he allegedly obtained shortly before he disappeared?
But how could McDermott, or Kim, have faked his own death? To begin with, type in “fake your own death” into “Google” and you’ll find the first of 5,810,000 hits to review. Earlier this year 38-year-old Marcus Schrenker, with his marriage and his financial world crumbling around him, crashed his private plane into the ground in an attempt to make it appear he had died in an aircraft accident. While he did crash his plane, in reality he parachuted to the ground where he hopped on a motorcycle he had hidden just for this occasion, and sped off across Alabama, only to be apprehended a few days later and charged with multiple offenses.
John Darwin was the 57-year-old former British teacher who turned up alive around Christmas 2007, this after faking his own death in a canoeing accident some five years before. Darwin and his wife conspired to fake his death to collect on his life insurance so they could clear up their excessive debts. He initially claimed to have suffered amnesia, thereby accounting for his absence, although he was using a passport in the name of “John Jones” at the time. Both John and Anne Darwin were convicted of fraud and sent to jail.
Then there was British MP and former Labour Minister John Stonehouse who went missing in Miami, FL in 1974. His clothes were found on a local beach and he was believed to have drowned and been carried out to sea, his body never found. Another shady character who was about to face criminal charges at the time of his disappearance, he was found months later living in Australia under an assumed name. Stonehouse’s wife was elated to learn her husband was still among the living, this until she learned that he was living with his 28-year-old former secretary Sheila.
Many across the world have chosen to fake their own disappearance and possible death, usually to flee from the police, or from their spouse, or from overwhelming financial responsibilities or just to begin life again. While TV shows like “24” may convince you it is easy to drop out of your current life and begin again as a new person, such takes thought, planning and dedication. To do this successfully, like when the U.S. Marshals Service puts you in the Witness protection Program, you must give up all aspects of your old life. You need a new identity and a new life story, with all the accompanying paperwork, to include a driver’s license, social security card, and high school or college diploma with accompanying documentation, as well a new life story that is easy to remember and hard for others to punch holes in. No more Facebook, or cell phone, or Christmas cards. Your parents, your former spouse, and your children by another marriage cannot know you are alive. Anyone can blow your cover, and it only takes one mistake to have the police and the court address you by your former name!
Some, perhaps like Pat McDermott, or Pat Kim, head off to a south of the border country where your name and your papers are not that important. They never plan to draw social security when they turn 62, so they don’t worry about it. They change their appearance and never, never, never tell their real identity or their real story to anyone.
In this case it appears that McDermott may have told his story to someone, this as a letter dated 10 Feb 2009, was allegedly received, along with a grainy photo said by the sender to be a current picture of McDermott, by the private investigator seeking to locate the missing man. The letter, in part, demands that the search for McDermott be ended, stating he (Mcdermott) is “a man whom has done nothing to anyone.” The letter continues that”Pat is alive and very well,” that “he has committed no crime” other then to move on “to a new life without the hassles of California or the spot light to which he lived for years,” indicating “Pat simply wishes to be left alone.” The letter concludes with a plea, “Let him live his life in preace and harmony. He is safe and has started anew again in a new place both mentally and personally.” The letter was signed, “Cacma D.”
Patrick McDermott’s disappearance was just too convenient, too timely, and without a body, just too hard to believe. I have always expected him to surface somewhere down in Mexico or South America, working at a job that required little documentation and where, unlike Sam Malone’s TV bar “Cheers,” a place where “where everybody knows your name,” in a place where few knew or cared about someone’s real name or life story. If McDermott has been found, he may, as suggested in the letter allegedly written by a friend in behalf of him, “Have done nothing to anyone.” While it’s not a crime to simply drop out of sight, (although there have been dozens of alleged sightings of him in the past two years), should he have attempted to commit a fraud concerning his debts or his life insurance he may well go the way of those before him, those who disappeared for awhile but were eventually located and forced to acknowledge both their identity and the reality of their disappearance. But if he truly did nothing illegal, then his only “crime” may be have dated just too high a profile woman for the story of his disappearance to ever just go away. Once again we may all know his name…