The best kind of fake news is the kind that’s meticulously planned in order to capture murderous Russian spies. Today, we’re counting down the five craziest faked deaths of all time, starting with one that just happened…
5) Arkady Babchenko
The Ukrainian journalist was reported murdered on May 29, apparently discovered by his wife in their home. Ukrainian police even released this photo of Babchenko shot multiple times in the back, covered in blood. But at a news conference on May 31, Babchenko showed up, revealing the entire thing was staged as a sting operation to capture the Russian spies who wanted him dead. Babchenko’s colleagues and friends mourned him, and the operation sparked a discussion about whether the elaborate ruse was necessary.
Babchenko, however, does not regret his decision. He said: “When someone comes to you and says here’s an order for your killing, do you proudly say: I’m thinking about the media’s reputation! Let me be killed! Carry on!” He did, however, apologize to those that knew him for having to fake his own death in order to capture his would-be killers.
There’s a disturbing trend in Russia of journalists critical of the Kremlin being killed or dying under mysterious conditions. Though the faked death has been criticized, it certainly looks like this one worked out in Arkady Babchenko’s favor. He’s still alive, after all.
4) David Friedland
Friedland was a New Jersey politician who served in the State General Assembly and then later in the State Senate, until his indictment and eventual conviction on racketeering charges. Friedland and his dad were found guilty of accepting $360,000 in bribes. In 1985, Friedland was still awaiting sentencing for the conviction, when he disappeared while scuba diving in the Bahamas and was presumed to have died. Investigators knew Friedland would try to run, and tracked him around the world, from Paris and Venice to Kenya, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
Then, in 1987, a man living a flashy lifestyle in the Maldives caught authorities’ attention. Despite using a fake name, Friedland became the owner of five successful scuba diving business and “lived a life that exalted his success and comfort.” When Friedland returned to the United States in handcuffs, he said he was tired of running and that it was “good to be back.”
He was ultimately sentenced to 8 years in federal prison and was released in 1997.
3) Ken Kesey.
Kesey most notably wrote the acclaimed novel One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. But in 1965, he was arrested for marijuana possession, and in the 60s, it wasn’t as easy to just head down to the dispensary to pick up some Grandaddy Purple or Alaskan Thunder Fuck.
He was facing some serious time, so he parked his truck on a cliff overlooking the ocean and left a suicide note that read “Ocean, Ocean, I’ll beat you in the end.” He then jumped in a friend’s trunk and they hightailed it to Mexico.
He came back to the States a few months later, probably thinking things had cooled down, but the arm of the law has a long memory. Kesey was arrested and spent five months in prison.
2) Krusty The Clown
This is the only fictional faked death on the list, but it’s one of the most memorable.
In the season 7 episode, “Bart The Fink,” Bart attempts to get Krusty’s signature by writing him a check for 25 cents. However, when he checks his monthly bank statement, he sees the check has been stamped by an account called Cayman Islands Offshore Holding Corporation.
When he brings the check to the bank, it’s discovered that Krusty’s one of the biggest tax cheats in the country! The IRS takes control of everything, ruining his show, and forcing Krusty to auction off some of his most prized possessions. Distraught, Krusty flies his private plane over Springfield, eventually crashing it into a mountain above Evergreen Terrace.
He’s mourned in Springfield by his friends and colleagues. However…pretty soon, Bart starts seeing Krusty everywhere he goes. Driving through his neighborhood, at Dr. Hibbert’s office, even in the ocean.
After a run in with the very Krusty like “Handsome Pete”. they find Krusty, who’s pretending to be a man named Rory B. Bellows. He admits that he faked his death to get out of his considerable debt. The Simpson kids convince him to come back to life so he can prove he’s better than everyone else, faking another death, Rory B. Bellows’, to cash in on the insurance money.
It was an interesting plot choice, considering that Homer had faked his own death just a few episodes earlier.
1) Timothy Dexter
Dexter was a poor Massachusetts farm boy who bounced around odd jobs in his youth, before marrying a wealthy, older widow named Elizabeth Frothingham. The Boston elite didn’t accept him as one of their own. In an effort to bankrupt Dexter, they encouraged him to invest heavily in the newly issued Continental Currency, widely seen as being a poor investment. However, as the American Revolution happened, and after the war, the value of the currency skyrocketed, making Dexter a millionaire.
Despite his success, though, Dexter’s neighbors still hated him, thinking his attitude boorish and his taste tacky. He never felt loved, so he did what anyone would do. He faked his own death. He told his wife and children to follow along with his ruse and announced to all of Boston society that he was dead. More than 3,000 people came to his funeral ceremony, through which Dexter stayed hidden and watched.
But, was Dexter happy with the turnout? Not really.
In fact, attendees discovered him attacking his wife with a cane since he thought her performance wasn’t believable enough. She was apparently laughing with guests instead of appearing suitably bereaved. And if that makes you like Timothy Dexter a bit less, you might be happy to hear that he died shortly thereafter, for real this time, in 1806.
Do you have a favorite faked death we left off the list? Let us know in the comments, or on Twitter at @WhatsTrending.