Faked Deaths: N.Y. Man's Alleged Elaborate Drowning Scheme and More

Raymond Roth's son, Jonathan, said dad forced him to conspire.

ByABC News
October 16, 2012, 1:28 PM

Oct. 17, 2012— -- quicklist: 1title: Raymond Rothtext: On July 28, weeks before his 48th birthday, Raymond Roth went to Jones Beach, N.Y., with his son, Jonathan Roth.

According to Jonathan Roth, Raymond Roth took off his shirt and shoes and put down his wallet and phone. Half an hour later, Jonathan Roth called his stepmother, Evana Roth, to report his father missing. Then he called 9-1-1 and ran to tell lifeguards.

Watch the full story on "20/20" Friday at 10 p.m. ET

New York State Park Police launched a huge rescue effort to find a missing swimmer, with helicopters and the Coast Guard. They found nothing.

Evana Roth was in shock over her husband's apparent death. He had recently been fired, and their marriage had been difficult, making suicide possible. He also was overweight and smoked, making accidental death from something like a heart attack possible as well.

Evana Roth told ABC News she was further shocked to discover their bank accounts had been emptied.

Raymond Roth had also significantly increased his life insurance. In the event of his death, authorities later said, Roth expected his death benefits would total nearly half a million dollars.

But that never happened. Because Raymond Roth didn't stay dead.

Four days after the disappearance, Evana Roth stumbled upon her stepson, Jonathan Roth's, open email account. She read a series of secret messages from Raymond Roth, sent the day before he went missing.

The messages detailed the men's alleged plot to fake the elder Roth's death, referring to a "last will and testament" and "cash for the trip." In one message Raymond Roth instructed his son how to "call [him] ... at the resort" so he can "find out how things are going."

Raymond Roth had driven his Honda to his timeshare at the Westgate Lakes Resort and Spa in Orlando, Fla.

Evana and her lawyer, Leonard Leeds, held a press conference to blow the whistle on the plot.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Roth made a full confession.

In an interview with ABC News' Chris Cuomo, Jonathan Roth said his father told him his "role was to just convince everybody that he was dead ... and once that happened, I would collect on the monies and deliver the monies to him in Florida."

Jonathan Roth said his father has physically assaulted him for years and forced him to take part in the scheme by threatening him with death.

"He's a violent person," Jonathan Roth said. "He has a ton of weapons in the house. So why wouldn't I believe him?"

After Jonathan Roth's confession, Raymond Roth reappeared. Instead of returning to his wife and son, Roth checked into a mental institution. He hired a lawyer, who held a press conference and pointed the finger at Jonathan Roth. Raymond Roth has denied his son's allegation of physical assaults.

Raymond Roth's lawyer said he didn't want insurance money and that because Roth had been fired, his work life insurance policy wouldn't have paid off anyway. Roth had a personal policy as well, which might have paid a benefit.

The Roth men are both charged with insurance fraud and other crimes. Raymond Roth pleaded not guilty.

Evana Roth is filing for divorce.

Click through to read three other cases of men faking their own deaths.

Watch the full story on "20/20" Friday at 10 p.m. ET

media: 17491254

quicklist: 2title: Sam Israel IIItext: In April 2008, Sam Israel III was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for defrauding investors in his hedge fund, Bayou Capital, of $400 million. The firm collapsed in 2005.

Israel was released on his own recognizance and was required to report to prison on June 9, 2008. He convinced his girlfriend, Debra Ryan, to help him fake his suicide. He drove his GM SUV to Bear Mountain Bridge, which spans the Hudson River in New York State. He left the vehicle with "Suicide Is Painless" -- the title of the "M*A*S*H" theme song -- scrawled on the hood in dust and pollen and rode a scooter to an RV he had parked nearby. He put the scooter in the RV and hit the road.

On July 2, 2008, Israel turned himself in to police in Southwick, Mass. In August 2008, Israel admitted in court that he had jumped bail by faking suicide. In July 2009, a judge added two years to his sentence for the failure to report for his previous sentence. He is now serving his sentence in federal prison. Ryan was charged for helping Israel evade the law, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to house arrest and probation, according to the Lower Hudson Valley (N.Y.) Journal News.

The story of Israel's faked jump and run from the law was first reported by ABC News.

media: 17491287

quicklist: 3title: Michael Wardtext: In August, Michael Ward II, 43, was removed as commander of the submarine the USS Pittsburgh after the Navy concluded he faked his death to end an extramarital affair.

Navy investigators learned Ward, who is married, had sent his 23-year-old girlfriend an email from a fictitious co-worker saying Ward had died, according to a report obtained by The Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Ward met the girlfriend, who is from Chesapeake, Va., online in October 2011. He tried to end the relationship after moving from Virginia to Connecticut to take up his new post. According to the AP, Ward had learned the woman was pregnant and had met with her to discuss what to do. She later lost the baby due to complications.

After receiving the email, the woman went to Ward's former house to offer condolences and found a new owner who told her Ward had moved, not died.

The Navy started investigating after a relative of the woman contacted the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), a spokeswoman for the Commander Submarine Group 2 in Pittsburgh told ABCNews.com.

Ward did not respond to a request for comment. He has been reassigned to administrative duties under another commander, according to the Navy.

media: 17491402

quicklist: 4title: Randy Mainwaringtext: In August, Randy Mainwaring, 40, was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for identity theft and bank fraud, crimes he committed as part of a plan to fake his own death, the Eugene, Ore., Register-Guard reported.

In 2006 Mainwaring, then living in Florida, was going through a contentious divorce and child custody battle in which he allegedly tried to plant drugs in his ex-wife's car and burn down her home, the Register-Guard reported.

After fleeing to his home state of Oregon, Mainwaring got a job managing a branch of KeyBank, which in 2007 sued him for allegedly stealing confidential client data as part of a plan to fake his death and assume the identity of a bank customer, the paper said.

In July 2007, Mainwaring placed a bogus obituary in The Register-Guard, posing as his brother to submit a fake British death certificate saying that Mainwaring had committed suicide in London, the newspaper reported.

media: 17492474