They say that money is the root of all evil, and it seems that whether you have it or you don’t, that much continues being true. Still, most of us would much rather have more money to worry about not having enough.
This a story of one desperate English couple whose inescapable money troubles left them with only one path to financial freedom: and it was going to get messy…
Beyond Their Means
John and Anne had been happily married for years. Unfortunately for them, no marriage, no matter how happy, can’t save you from crippling debt: which was something John and Anne had in spades. For decades they lived well beyond their means and by the time our story begins, they had acquired a debt in the tens of thousands.
The debt became so insurmountable that the formally happy couple began to turn on one another. It was March of 2002, and after a particularly rough argument with his wife, John decided to take his canoe out on the river to clear his head. He had done this many times before, but on this particular day, John never returned home…
When John did not reappear later that night, Anne called the police. A large search ensued and a contingent of local police, rangers, friends, and neighbors joined in to help locate the missing man. Then, after nearly 10 days of fruitless searching, police discovered John’s wrecked canoe on the banks of the river.
John’s body was never located and year later, Anne and her two sons had to face facts. John was declared legally dead in February, 2003. It was a bittersweet moment for his family. Sure, John was gone, but now that he was, his wife could cash in on his life insurance policy. It provided more than enough money to pay off the couple’s debts. But the story was far from over…
Many years later, a bride and groom stand in a lovely chapel together. The bride, a Filipino woman, is dressed in a gown of flowing silk and chiffon. The groom is an older man, he is wearing a blue suit, a silk tie, and has a red rose in his lapel. Mercy looks over at her soon-to-be husband and can’t believe what a dream come true this is.
New Wife, New Life
Her groom, the older English gentleman, has finally found what he’s been looking for all these years. After finally divorcing his previous wife, an iron-haired and moody doctor’s receptionist, he can feel like he’s finally moving on with his life. This, in and of itself is no small feat, considering the groom in question has been dead for years…
John looks a might smarter than the last time folks had seen him, all dressed in blues and silks, but that’s partially because the last time people saw John, he had been rowing off into the sunset in an old canoe. He had, unknown to many people, come a long way since that fateful March day.
But where had John been for the previous 14 years? What had he been doing between the marriage to Mercy and his initial disappearance. The real answer is perhaps one that many people would never have anticipated. He was living with his soon-to-be Ex, Anne: holed up in an apartment next door to their old house…
The scheme had come to John and Anne Darwin in the midst of their financial dilemma. Neither could see any way out of getting free of their bottomless pit of debt in their lifetime. So they figured the best way to be free of it was for one of them to be dead. That way, the other could reap the benefits and finally pay off their piles of overdue bills.
It’ll Kill You, John
Faking John’s death was fairly easy. His canoeing habit was the perfect cover. Anne had always warned her husband that traveling downriver by himself was always going to get him killed, they just had to make sure that it actually did this time. When they had finally concluded the dreadful business, all they had left to do was decide how to spend the rest of the money…
The scheme went off without a hitch and left the Darwins enough money to start a new life. Two years after they received payment, the couple moved to Panama to begin that new life as eco-resort owners. They planned to use their ill-gotten gains to buy land on a tropical estate. Obviously one of the leisure activities offered would be canoeing.
Unfortunately, neither John nor Anne were ever any good at holding onto any money. The estate and the eco-resort they planned fell through within a year of the purchase. On December 1, 2007, John made a bold decision. He turned himself into the police. There was a catch though, according to John Darwin, he had no memory of what had happened in his “absence”…
Something isn’t Right
As it happened, the police hadn’t been entirely convinced that John had disappeared all those years before either. There were some strange coincidences surrounding the disappearance which gave them pause. At the time, they couldn’t do anything to prove their theories, it was only when he walked into the station claiming amnesia that they finally knew they were right.
Kids Didn’t Know
John arrived back in Britain to turn himself in and made the national news as a man who had faked his own death. His miraculous return shocked the media as well as his sons, who had no idea that their father had been alive the whole time. Soon though, John’s amnesia story began to unravel as quickly as his Panama prospects had…
Eventually, John Darwin came clean about the whole mess. He and Anne were arrested and sent to prison. She was released in 2011 after serving a six-and-a-half-year sentence, he got out around the same time. Anne, who had been furious at her husband for his weakness in turning them in, eventually decided she wanted nothing more to do with him.
The divorce process had begun by the time John broke his parole to meet up with 25-year-old blonde bombshell, Anna Avramenko in the Ukraine. She was to be his new foreign bride. But John Darwin, it seemed, had never had much luck with women and things didn’t go well during their first meeting. As for his ex-wife…
While John may be getting married to a new Filipino wife, Anne has retired from public life and is working at an animal shelter outside York, England. The shelter re-houses dogs and other pets and Anne, as she always has, mans the phones to help out. It’s a quiet, simple life away from the ridicule of what she and her husband did.
John Darwin however has become addicted to notoriety and is even writing a book about his experiences. He hopes that it will one day be made into a motion picture. His new wife, Mercy, is unfazed by either his crimes or his popularity. She loves him for who he is, not who he was. Meanwhile, his sons seem more than happy to see him simply get on with his life…
Back to Panama
After the wedding, John Darwin plans to move back to Panama. “I miss the hot weather there,” he explained in a newspaper interview. “I miss the people and laid-back attitude in the country.” Though the couple no longer owns the nearly 500 acres of tropical wilderness they had bought in Escobar, he plans to make the most of his time there.
The two accounts they still have in Panama once contained more than half a million US dollars. But much of that money has since been seized by the British government. However, it seems like some of the couple’s Panama assets are still there waiting for him, since the Panama government has made it difficult for them to get their hands on it.