The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

January 23, 2014

How a living fugitive was declared dead


The court, though, found that a “preponderance” of evidence indicated that Price “took his own life at sea.” The circuit judge who signed the order, Greg S. Parker, said in a letter that “in an abundance of caution” he could not speak about the evidence because his comments might interfere with any future court proceedings.

On the day he disappeared, surveillance video showed Price in the Key West airport and at a ferry terminal there. Photos released at the time by the FBI show Price with luggage. He changed hats between the airport and ferry terminal.

There were other holes. Linda Miller, a spokesperson for Key West Express, said jumping off one of the company’s high-speed, jet-powered catamarans “is not something that’s feasible without being detected.”

Price asked that his ashes be scattered “in the ocean off Anna Maria Island,” near Tampa Bay. He had already spoken with someone at a Florida crematorium about his plan, he wrote. He left her name and phone number in his suicide note.

Karin Tompkins, who owns the Good Earth Crematory in Bradenton, Fla., said she has no recollection of that conversation.

“I’ve never met the man,” she said. “I can’t say that he ever came through my door.”

After her husband was declared dead, Rebekah Price collected survivor’s benefits from the Social Security Administration. Those benefits have since stopped, her lawyer said.

Social Security spokeswoman Patti Patterson said in the case of overpayment — when Social Security pays more benefits than someone should have received or when no benefits were actually due — the recipient is expected to pay that money back.

Patterson said she could not comment on Price’s case, but said a person can request a waiver if the overpayment was not that person’s fault and repaying the money would cause a financial hardship, or be otherwise unfair.

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