Almost four years after vanishing from Hollywood and the side of famous girlfriend Olivia Newton-John, Patrick McDermott may be found.
A team of private investigators hunting for McDermott believes he's hiding out off the coast of Mexico.
"We believe he is between Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco," lead investigator Philip Klein told ABCNews.com. The private investigators were paid by a network TV news show to look for McDermott.
McDermott, who dated the "Grease" star for nine years, disappeared during a fishing trip off the California coast in June 2005 at age 48. The US Coast Guard was unable to come to a conclusion as to his whereabouts as of November 2008.
Klein believes McDermott, who worked as a gaffer during the time he dated Newton-John, staged his death to escape from mounting debt and enable a son from his previous marriage, Chance, to collect on his $100,000 life insurance policy.
"He was two months behind in his rent at his home. His disability payments from getting injured on the job as a gaffer had stopped. He had reached rock bottom," Klein said.
When he and his Texas-based team launched the investigation into McDermott's whereabouts, Klein discovered that McDermott's life insurance policy "is in full force and effect. The premiums have been paid every month. There has also been an inquiry by a person or persons in an attempt to possibly file a claim on the insurance money."
After establishing that, he set up www.findpatrickmcdermott.com, a so-called "spider site" that tracks the location of those who visit it by recording IP addresses. Klein leaked news of the Web site to McDermott's friends and family. The site started getting a string of hits from port cities in Mexico and South America.
"Sayulita, Mexico, is where many of the hits were coming from," Klein said. "We got to Sayulita, we began to show his picture around to witnesses in the area, and we found people who said, 'Yeah, I know him, he comes here all the time.' We have witnesses, including five Americans, willing to give us signed affidavits that they've seen him.'"
"He asked waiters to put him in corners, he had changed his appearance once or twice," Klein added. "He's moving as a lone wolf."
Because McDermott is not sought for any crimes, law enforcement is not involved, which makes finding him that much harder. But an NBC "Dateline" special on Klein's investigation publicized the search, and now, Klein believes it's only a matter of time before he pinpoints Newton-John's ex.
Since the special aired Sunday, Klein's agency has received nearly 3,000 tips as to McDermott's whereabouts, and the site, www.findpatrickmcdermott.com, has gotten more than a million hits.
"We fully anticipate he's going to go underground for a while," Klein said. "But when he raises his head, he's not just going to have 20 eyes looking for him, he's going to have a million eyes looking for him."
Newton-John's publicist declined to comment on the investigation. Though the actress was bereft in the wake of McDermott's disappearance, she has since found a new partner in millionaire John Easterling, whom she married last summer.