Dead man walking

This story on the BBC website caught my eye this morning. Apparently a man who disappeared many years ago and was declared legally dead has reappeared safe and well – but can’t now be declared alive under US (or at least Ohio state) law.

It’s an extraordinary situation with all sorts of ramifications, not least for the poor chap himself who presumably can’t get a job, can’t claim any sort of benefits, can’t buy or rent somewhere to live, and might well end up vanishing again between society’s ever-widening cracks.

To me, it also read like a criminal’s licence. Just think. You commit some hideous crime, go into hiding, get yourself declared dead, and after three years you’re safe because a dead person can’t be put on trial. Of course, you might not be able to live (there’s that whole ‘no job, no benefits, no home’ thing going on) but if you’ve made enough money from the crime that wouldn’t be a problem.

I feel a story coming on.

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