June 2, 2009
The first true crime book I wrote was MAN OVERBOARD: The Counterfeit Resurrection of Phil Champagne. Phil fell off a sail boat, and was presumed drowned following a futile 13 hour search by the United States Coast Guard. In truth, Phil wasn’t dead. He survived. He didn’t know he was dead until he read it in the newspaper. All things considered, he took it rather well.
“I didn’t fake my death,” said Phil Champagne, “I simply didn’t contradict it.”
Mr. Champagne was, at the time of his faux-demise, under more pressure than an astronaut. He was able to justify informing no one in his family that he was still alive. He simply “stayed dead” for ten full years until a series of strange circumstances resulted in him being discovered alive, well and incarcerated for counterfeiting United States currency.
Of his four adult children, only one was thrilled to find out he was alive. The others didn’t know if they wanted to hug him or hang him. His ex-wife had already collected a wrongful death claim against her former brother in law for Phil’s death, and an insurance company had paid out over seven hundred thousand dollars in key man insurance money to Phil’s older brother – a partner in a real estate development company.
In the past few weeks, cases similar to that of Phil Champagne have hit the headlines, and more than one upset wife is in life crises shock over discovering that the man she loved and mourned had apparently simply ditched her. One of these heartbroken and offended woman is seeking legal punitive sanctions against those who go, as she terms it, “maliciously missing.”
"May 19, 2005 I hugged and kissed [my husband] Jon goodbye at our front door," says Maureen Reintjes, "and then never saw or talked to him again until May 11, 2009." Her first "contact" with her missing husband was notice via an attorney online that her missing husband wanted a divorce.
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