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When the dead come back to life

Recently there emerged the weird story of 43-year old Brenda Heist, a Pennsylvania woman who one day in 2002 dropped off her two children in school and then disappeared. Her husband was initially suspected of her murder and lost his job as a result and was shunned by the community. But eventually he was not charged with anything and he and his children went on with their lives. Heist was later declared legally dead (in Pennsylvania it takes a minimum of seven years) and her husband remarried.

But earlier this week Heist, now 54, re-appeared. It turns out that on impulse, she had decided to run away to Florida with three homeless people she met that morning in 2002 and had lived there since then, pretty much as a vagrant.

I was curious about what happens when you come back from the dead. It turns out that some things are simple. You can just go to a courthouse and have yourself declared undead. Also you may not be prosecuted if you had no criminal intent of profiting from or defrauding anyone in disappearing.

But otherwise things can get pretty complicated. You would be reported as dead to the Social Security office and lose all claims to government services. Any property inherited by your heirs would have to be given back. In her case, her husband got her life insurance payout and the company could sue her to get it back. Since she has no money, they could go after her husband. According to most states, once you are declared dead, any marriage is considered ended and remains so even if you come back, so his marriage to his new wife would still be legal.

I was interested to read that someone has written a how-to book How to Disappear for those contemplating on disappearing for good, because these days it is not easy to do so. We are all entangled in a web of connections that only be severed if we go completely off the grid.

If Jesus lived in the present day, given all the hassles he may have thought twice about this whole resurrection thing.

Comments

  1. says

    “If Jesus lived in the present day, given all the hassles he may have thought twice about this whole resurrection thing.”

    Well, obviously that’s why he only made it a two-day gig! :)

  2. left0ver1under says

    In her case, her husband got her life insurance payout and the company could sue her to get it back. Since she has no money, they could go after her husband.

    It would be disgusting and loathsome if they did, he’s as much a victim of fraud as they are. Going after the husband is like American Express going after tourists who tried to recoup stolen traveller’s cheques. Those who provided the insurance are the ones who accepted the risk, not the ones who paid premiums.

    But we are talking about insurance companies here. They are businesses with an ethical track record on par with John Wayne Gacy (e.g. CIGNA and the murder of Nataline Sarkisyan).

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