MASSAPEQUA, N.Y. (AP) — A jobless man who was reported missing after going for a swim in New York — only to turn up days later speeding down a South Carolina highway — had sent emails discussing a plot to fake his own death, his wife said Friday.
Evana Roth said she had no part in her husband's scheme and discovered it while making preparations for his funeral. She also said her husband, who has yet to be located, has been calling her cellphone and sending her text messages, some as recently as Friday morning.
Raymond Roth, 47, vanished last Saturday after Jonathan Roth — his son and Evana Roth's stepson — reported him missing at Jones Beach.
Police took to the air and water to look for him, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars, but learned days later that Roth had been seen in Florida. Early Thursday morning, he was stopped going 90 mph and given a speeding ticket in Santee, S.C. The officer who issued the ticket saw that Roth was listed in a national registry of missing people. Roth said he was returning to New York, and the officer let him proceed north.
At a news conference at her attorney's office Friday, Evana Roth distributed copies of three emails her husband sent to Jonathan Roth on Friday, July 27.
In one email, Raymond Roth instructs his son to contact him at an Orlando, Fla., resort on Sunday evening — a day after he was last seen at Jones Beach.
"There needs to be a way to find out how things are going. Call me Sunday night at the resort," the first email said. "go to a pay phone or borrow your friends phone. You must call within 15 minutes of the determined time to call in order to be sure i will be available."
A second email sent nine minutes later refers to Raymond Roth's need to "get to the bank for cash for the trip." Evana Roth, 43, showed two bank receipts indicating her husband had withdrawn $1,900 from a bank account on July 27.
In the same missive, Roth tells his son: "tell uncle Bob I handed you the Lawyer papers - then you JUST noticed that there was an envelope with Uncle Bob's name on it. (the last Will and Testemnet then hand it to him - ALL OF THE PAPERWORK"
Evana Roth said she contacted police as soon as she discovered the emails, and also told relatives about them. Within a half hour, she received a call from her husband, she said. Soon after, she said, she realized he may have concocted a scheme to fake his own death.
"I had no knowledge at all that he would do anything of this sort," she said.
New York State Park Police Capt. Bruce Marx said Friday that despite several phone calls between Roth and detectives on Thursday in which he indicated he was returning to New York, Roth still had not been found.
It's unclear whether criminal charges will be filed. A spokesman for Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice declined to comment. Marx said any decision on charges would have to await further investigation.
Raymond Roth didn't answer a call to a cellphone number he had used to contact his wife. Jonathan Roth's whereabouts also are unknown. He did not respond to a request for comment sent to an email account supplied by Evana Roth.
Evana Roth said she last spoke to her husband of 12 years late Thursday night. He sounded intoxicated and indicated he was in North Carolina, she said. He also sent her a text message early Friday morning, indicating he was aware of her plans to speak with reporters.
Attorney Lenard Leeds read it to reporters: "Evana. What is going on? I just heard you have a press conference later. Be nice. Almost 15 years together."
Evana Roth said her husband had recently been fired from his job. He also put their house up for sale; a listing has an asking price of $550,000.
A LinkedIn page for Roth said he worked for Level 3 Communications, a telecommunications company. A company spokesman declined to comment.
Nassau County Police said Friday that Roth recently had been required to surrender a handgun and his pistol license after a harassment complaint was filed against him in New York City. Details of the complaint were not immediately available.
Evana Roth said she knew nothing of the circumstances until police officers came to her home last month requesting the handgun and license.
"I couldn't tell you, he didn't talk to me, we didn't have that type of marriage," she said. "I only heard when cops showed up to take the license and pistol away."