British authorities this week locked up John and Anne Darwin pending their trial on charges they cashed in on a life insurance policy after he staged his own death to escape debts. John Darwin disappeared after paddling a kayak into the North Sea five years ago. British tabloids dubbed him “Canoe Man” after he turned himself in last week. He claimed amnesia, but a recent photo of the couple surfaced on a real-estate Web site in Panama. (CNN.com)
What the commentators said
The story of John Darwin’s “pseudocide” taps into “some deep, universal dream of escape,” said Anne Applebaum in The Washington Post (free registration). Who hasn’t considered vanishing out of “boredom, love, greed, shame, guilt, debt avoidance, revenge or simply a desire to lead a more interesting life”? But, as the Darwin affair shows, it’s hard to ever truly escape in the Internet age.
The Darwins might have “pulled off the scam,” said Alex Altman in Time.com. But Anne Darwin said her husband was “going stir crazy” hiding in their home in northeastern England. That’s why she relocated recently to Panama. Now Anne Darwin has confessed in a newspaper interview, and in the place of her “burden of secrecy” now “looms a towering wave of legal trouble.”
The law isn’t the Darwins’ only problem, said Rachael Bletchley in The People, a weekly British tabloid. Try explaining this stunt to their sons, who believed all this time that their dad was dead. All that time, Anne Darwin was living with her husband, and sending him into a neighboring apartment through a secret door behind her wardrobe any time company came calling. “How COULD she?”