Missing: Olivia Newton-John's Former Boyfriend

A few weeks ago, blogger My Husband's Watching TV asked me about the missing person case of Patrick McDermott.

At the time of his disappearance, McDermott was best known for being Olivia Newton-John’s boyfriend--though they had just ended the relationship after 9 years.

McDermott went missing in 2005, but new information was released last year that certainly attracted widespread media coverage...


Case Summary

McDermott vanished during an overnight chartered fishing trip off the coast of San Pedro in June of 2005. The trip included 22 other passengers and his wallet and keys were later found on the boat.

Some passengers could not remember seeing him on the charter at all, but it is believed that he was on the trip and had placed at least one order for food and drinks.

After not showing up to a family event several days later, he was reported missing by his family.

In 2006, the US Coast Guard closed their investigation into the case without finding enough evidence to make a determination-—though one media report stated detectives believed that the victim had drown.


The Latest on the Investigation

Fast-forward to 2007, when the television program Dateline hired Philip Klein, a private investigator from Texas.

Klein and his associates either learned or verified the following:

• The missing man allegedly secured a second passport under his birth name of Patrick Kim prior to disappearing.

• That McDermott purchased food and a drink an hour before the vessel he was aboard returned to port. This compact time frame made it less likely that he had fallen overboard without anyone noticing.

• More than 20 witnesses (obviously with varying degrees of confidence) reported seeing McDermott in parts of Mexico and Central America after he had vanished.

• That McDermott had previously filed bankruptcy, owed child support payments, and was heavily in debt prior to going missing. Through the disappearance, his teenage son (from a previous marriage to actress Yvette Nipar) was evidently able to collect a $100,000 life insurance payout.
Klein then spent two years chasing leads and using information gleaned from their website about the case to reach a conclusion: that Mr. McDermott is alive and hiding from his past.

Klein states that this was confirmed when his office received a fax from a “representative” of the missing man--stating that McDermott had violated no laws and simply wanted to be left alone.

This led to follow-up phone calls with the representative concerning McDermott's case.

From Klein’s site:

In October of 2008, McDermott was traced to a small hotel on the Pacific rim of Mexico's western mainland shore...

McDermott, feeling the heat from the hunt of the investigators tracking him down, fled the Cabo San Lucas area of Mexico and traveled by ferry to the mainland of Mexico following a path down the western coast of the mainland visiting smaller cities so that he could blend in...

Thinking investigators would try to track him back to Cabo - McDermott took a job with a local family on a million dollar yacht.

His looks - his mannerisms - his knowledge of what the rich and famous like and most of all his ability to attract the ladies, made him a choice pick for living and working on a million dollar yacht and simply blending into whatever port he arrived...

In February of 2009 when the heat was on - and investigators went public asking for the help of citizens all over the world - McDermott did what he is best at. He simply blended into the yachting community of Puerto Vallarta and was able to leave the area headed south...

As he barely escaped he enlisted the help of "friends" that he had trusted with his true stories. And he sent a simple message through those friends by fax. Thinking that investigators would back down and leave him alone - he now was ready to continue his life.

Was it an insurance scam with others involved? Was it a fear of going to jail? Was it an attempt at legal extortion of the owners of the freedom (Note: "Freedom" is the name of the charter fishing boat)?

Or was it just a broken man that could not hold a job, a girlfriend or be a true father to a fine young man?
Investigators believe that McDermott has disguised himself with a long beard and dyed his hair black, and his still hiding in Mexico or South America.


My Two Cents

Here are a couple of observations on the role of Klein's case website:

1) Did you notice how inflammatory the final questions were?

They seem to go after McDermott by attacking him personally and then criticizing his actions as a father. It appears that those words were directed at McDermott specifically to enrage him.

Angry persons often act carelessly and I bet that is what they were hoping from the missing man.

2) Once investigators felt confident that McDermott was checking their website, Klein used site tracking information to select specific areas in Mexico to search.

I could not find a reference to it, but remember hearing that Dennis Rader, also known as the BTK Strangler, was believed to have frequented the Internet site setup by authorities examining his crimes.

I wonder how many missing persons, who are really in hiding, visit websites created to discuss their case?

How many perpetrators of crimes against missing persons and/or others regularly visit Internet sites to learn more about their investigations?

In any event, congrats to Philip Klein for providing a plausible solution to the Patrick McDermott case; especially after authorities had all but given up on it.


A Doc 2 Be said...

Interesting, for sure. I always like ONJ and felt sorry for her with his disappearance. Despite a breakup, people still care about each other... wonder how the follow-up made her feel?

At least, in one regard, the man is alive. I bet all of us, at one time or another, have thought about ditching our lives, and vanishing.

Great story!

Momma Fargo said...

Interesting stuff.

Herding Cats said...

This is interesting. I'm slightly confused, but I wonder what the real story is!

Eternally Distracted said...

Intriguing stuff... I love coming here :0)

Anonymous said...
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My Husband's Watching TV... said...

Thanks for this Slam Dunk! I always thought maybe ONJ was a bad girlfriend and that's why he ran away but turns out he just can't handle his money. It said that his "rep" faxed someone to say he hadn't broken any laws so leave him alone but weren't there laws broken? Insurance laws, child support owed, etc...You're awesome for doing this!!!

ooglebloops said...

I remember reading about this when it happened - and often thought Patrick just "disappeared", for whatever reason. Appears there were reasons after all!! Thanks for the update!

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

WOW! What a great television program this case would make.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

So the moral of the story is don't check out the websites about you being missing if you want to remain missing. Got it.

PS. I've left an award for you on my blog.

suzicate said...

Interesting. But if he has broken no laws (and doesn't owe money or taxes)and just wants to be left alone and start over, why won't that call off the investigation?

gladwellmusau said...

Oh, goodness me. What an unbelievable story. How does one live knowing that others think him as dead and go? It better to live simply and you need not live two lives at a time!

Good story...though!

Ann T. said...

Dear Slamdunk,
What a story. There have been laws broken--insurance fraud, for one.

I learn something new at every post.

Ann T.

T. Anne said...

Interesting. I remember when this happened. Its odd to think someone would want to go into hiding if indeed that is what happened. Interesting thoughts on people visiting their own investigation sites.

Confessions From A Working Mom said...

I've followed this case from the beginning, because I have always loved ONJ as an actress/entertainer. I always felt that McDermott was running from his past-- so your new information doesn't surprise me too much!

Confessions From A Working Mom

torn blazer said...

That's interesting ....crims visiting web sites...I guess it helps to keep up with what they are saying about you...

Sister Copinherhair said...

This whole story sounds much like a Jimmy Buffett novel/song. ;)

wes said...

Very interesting and as much so as the Natalee Holloway story!

My Husband's Watching TV... said...

I agree with Wes and the Natalee Holloway story...if I can put in a request for a post on her, I would appreciate it!

kathryn said...

Wow....I think I'd heard something about this a long time ago and I'd completely forgotten about it.

Very interesting, to say the least.

I'm sure there are many wanted fugitives who get a kick out of reading about themselves online.

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for the comments all.

@ Doc 2 Be: I did not read much on ONJ's feelings though I do remember that she was saddened (watching interviews when the story first was made public).

@ My Husband...: Your welcome.

@ My Husband & Suzicate: (Building on Ann T's comment) I think the private detectives are using "strategy" when they say no laws have been broken. If he were to return and his disappearance had been staged, the "has not broken any laws" thing likely would change quickly.

@ Gladwell: I agree that would be a irrational decision from my perspective as well.

@ Stina: Thank you!

Luisa Doraz said...

I am always a,azed at how we all make choices in life. We have to live with them....if we are lucky. Have a safe week!

Portia said...

This is so creepy! I remember being drawn to this strange case when it came out. How fantastic to imagine that he still might be out there?

Dan said...

Self imposed disappearance sure sounds plausible.

Holly said...

I forgot all about this one. I'm guessing he is hiding from his legal and financial woes...easier to disappear than to face the music.

Gus Pillsbury said...

Philip Klein is not credible and the fax he produced is dubious, if not an outright fraud.

Read more about Philip R. Klein on my blog: operationkleinwatch.blogspot.com