A fresh investigation into the disappearance of Olivia Newton-John‘s on-again-off-again boyfriend Patrick McDermott, who vanished at sea 17 years ago, speculates he faked his own death because he was in debt and couldn’t keep up with the ‘Hollywood lifestyle’.
The Korean-American cameraman, 48, who dated the late Australian singer for nine years, was last seen alive in June 2005 when he went on an overnight fishing trip off the coast of Los Angeles with 22 other people.
Interest in the case has grown since Newton-John died from cancer in August, and investigators have now uncovered new evidence that sheds light on the mystery.
The new Spotify crime podcast Casefile Presents: Pseudocide investigates the widely reported theory that McDermott faked his own death.
The six-part series features never-before-heard interviews and addresses the facts and speculation that followed the incident years later.
After McDermott vanished on June 30, 2005, media reports suggested he was in a substantial amount of debt.
He had filed for bankruptcy with more than $30,000 owed.
Private investigator Philip Klein suggested McDermott’s bankruptcy was an important part to the mystery.
He also said McDermott, who was born in Seoul and adopted by an American family at age two, hated the ‘Hollywood lifestyle’ during his relationship with Newton-John, and in particular disliked red carpets.
‘Hollywood’s a place of money, but it’s also a place of very poor people who are trying to make it,’ Klein said. ‘And he just never could make it.’
In another bombshell revelation, Klein claimed McDermott had left Newton-John a ‘heartfelt note’ and a bunch of roses shortly before he went missing.
The note was passed on to Klein when he was investigating McDermott’s disappearance for the U.S. news program Dateline.
‘The note told her that he’d always loved her, always will love her,’ Klein said. ‘But they had been having a lot of problems.’
He added: ‘Patrick was backing out of the relationship because he didn’t like Hollywood – he didn’t like what he was doing.’
The letter could be interpreted as McDermott’s ‘final farewell’ to Newton-John, and perhaps suggests he knew something bad was about to happen.
Many questions still surround McDermott’s disappearance, with wild theories he may have faked his own death for a new life in Mexico to avoid paying taxes.
He disappeared while on board the fishing boat ‘Freedom’, and his absence wasn’t noticed until the boat returned to dry land. He was 48 at the time.
‘I don’t think I will ever really be at peace with it,’ Newton-John admitted to Women’s Weekly magazine in 2009.
‘I think there will always be a question mark.’
The Grease star began a nine-year on-off romance with McDermott following her 1995 divorce from her first husband Matt Lattanzi.
Newton-John was on a promotional tour in Australia when McDermott disappeared.
Crew on his fishing boat had found his car keys, passport and wallet on board the boat and his car was found parked at the San Pedro marina in Los Angeles.
But still no one realised he was missing until he failed to appear at a family event on July 6, with police finally called in on July 11.
By then though, the trail had gone cold – and investigators turned up nothing.
Prior to dating Newton-John, McDermott had been married and fathered a son, and was court-ordered to to pay $8,000 in backdated child support.
A Coast Guard inquiry admitted at the time they ‘did not find any evidence of criminal action, suicide, accident or hoax in the disappearance of McDermott’.
A three-year probe into the ‘Freedom’ fishing boat found it didn’t carry out any head counts on the day of the trip, causing McDermott’s disappearance to go unnoticed.
Both probes concluded McDermott was likely lost at sea during the night and had likely drowned. He has been presumed dead ever since.
However, a manager at the San Pedro marina where McDermott boarded the boat is convinced he did not die on the fishing trip.
‘I believe the guy got off the boat, but I could be wrong,’ he said in 2005.
‘He might have been kidnapped by aliens in the parking lot, but he got off the boat.
‘Look, if you really want to jump, you jump when someone is not looking and you’ll never be seen.’
The mystery took another turn when a fisherman from the trip, Tony Mayo, said he met McDermott on board just 3.5 hours into the trip, but never saw him again.
‘I kept an eye out for him all day long, but never saw him,’ Mayo said.
At least six witnesses came forward within a year of McDermott’s disappearance to say they had seen him alive and well in Mexico. He was again ‘sighted’ there in 2010.
Photographs of a man and a woman said to be the Hollywood crew member and his new lover in Mexico were also published in 2017 by Australian magazine New Idea.
But the claims were undone weeks later when a Canadian couple came forward to say they were the people in the pictures.
According to CBS in 2016, a private investigator claimed he had found the missing man.
‘Patrick’s probably now working in the yachting industry for a high-profile family down there,’ he said.
Newton-John put the tragedy behind her, meeting future husband John Easterling and marrying him in Peru in 2008.
But the mystery continued to haunt her in the years that followed, although she had resigned herself to the fact McDermott was most probably dead.
‘He was lost at sea, and nobody really knows what happened,’ the Grease star told 60 Minutes in 2016.
‘It’s human to wonder. Because whenever you go through difficult Original
Newton-John died on August 8 at age 73 after a long battle with cancer.