Posted December 6, 2007 6:16 pm by with 10 comments

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If you’ve ever done basic genealogy online, you know that Google can be used to find the dead. But did you know that Google can find the “un”dead? (No, I don’t mean zombies.)

In March 2002, John Darwin went missing during a canoing trip “within sight of his home.” He never returned and the following year, he was officially declared dead.

Until an unidentified woman googled him. Suspicious of the whole story, she found him alive and well in Argentina Panama City, in a photograph dated 2006. With his wife.

As it turned out, John Darwin didn’t die on a canoe trip. But he did allow his family, friends and government to think he was dead. “Years later,” says his wife, Anne, he contacted his wife to let her know he was alive. She moved to Panama six weeks ago.

The anonymous woman googled “John, Anne and Panama” and found the picture, which she sent to police and the Guardian. They report that John walked into a London police station over the weekend and told them “I think I am a missing person.” He was arrested on charges of fraud (y’think?). The police plan to validate the picture. Because, y’know, having him in custody isn’t enough evidence that he faked his own death.

His wife is still in Panama. Their sons, who didn’t know their father was alive until they saw it on the news, told Sky News that they have no desire to speak to their parents now.

The moral of the story: if you’re going to drop off the grid, drop off the Internet, too. Google will find you.


  • Yeah .. its scary how much info big G has on us … I know when I search on my own name some stuff comes up that keeps me amazed 😉

    Things you don;t know about yourself can be quickly found on the Google. Got to love the transparency …

  • Well, one must be an idiot to put his photo and add his real name to it on the internet when the rest of the world thinks he is dead.

  • It isn’t very bright to put your picture on the net when you are attempting to fall off the globe. But that is quite an amazing story.

  • db

    This guy knew when the photo was being taken that it would likely appear on a website (for the place they were renting). I guess he didn’t Google anyone in his life time.

  • i cant believe this is being talked about so much… its ridiculous… cmon guys

  • Zen

    Loved the moral! Haha. But now that I think of it… there was no grave to google beyond in this example since he wasn’t dead. 😛

  • Yeah, I live about 40 miles away from the place where this guy is from. I remember at the time people saying it was a bit strange – a few people were suspicious. While I’d heard about him reappearing, I hadn’t heard about the woman searching on Google part – which is the funniest bit. Can’t believe they would be so stupid.

  • Let me guess, he “forgot” to pay his taxes and took a “long trip” to panama 🙂 Sometimes, i am really afraid of google, a friend of mine even contacted all websites where his name was indexed, just to get out of the top ten for his name+sirname…

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  • Some people are realy strange and disapear. It is right that I could track few of my friends while googleing their names or nicknames… Than I am sometimes surprised what they realy do. Just try to google all your shool mates and you will see how many of them are visible… I think once someone has atleast 3 entries on google than it is good sign that this person is active in life.