Mom Fakes Son’s Death to Get Out of Work

An Iowa woman submitted a fake obituary for her teenage son so that she and her boyfriend could take some time off work.

Some people will do anything to get out of work. Police in Iowa have arrested two people accused of filing a fake obituary for teenager Dan “D.J.” Reddout with a newspaper to get off work for a few days.

Police said James Ralph Snyder, who is the boyfriend of Reddout’s mother, and the boy’s mother, Mary Jo Elizabeth Jensen, submitted a death notice to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier newspaper, saying that Jensen’s 17-year-old son had died at the Mayo Clinic after a lengthy illness. Authorities were notified after the teen was spotted at a restaurant by some family friends.

Police said the pair did it so they could get off work for a few days. Both Snyder and Jensen worked at Tyson Foods and started taking time off from work in December by claiming the boy was hospitalized with an illness, the paper reported. As the scheme continued, Tyson officials were told the boy was on life support and had died, according to the paper.

Snyder and Jensen took several days for funeral leave, the paper reported. After they took the days off, officials from Tyson told the pair they needed verification for their absences, the paper reported. “The boyfriend eventually went to the Waterloo Courier and had a false obituary placed in the newspaper to satisfy their employer,” the Courier reported.

Incredible.

And wouldn’t it have been easier to quit the job? How hard could it be to find similar employment? One imagines that Jensen and Snyder were not on the CEO track.

The obit is still online, interestingly:

Dan "D.J." Reddout obituary from Waterloo Courier

The Courier published a retraction on January 4.

The reported death of a Waterloo teenager was greatly exaggerated, according to his mother and authorities. The Courier ran an obituary for Daniel “D.J.” Reddout Friday after a man who identified himself as his father dropped off information about the 17-year-old’s alleged death at the newspaper Thursday.

[…]

But on Tuesday Waterloo police and The Courier received a report that people who know Reddout spotted him eating at the Happy Chef a full week after his alleged demise. Police continue investigating the matter. “He was in the restaurant Saturday and had the obituary with him,” said Jeannie Heines, who works at Happy Chef, which also employs one of Reddout’s grandmothers.

Waterloo police learned Tuesday through the Olmsted County Medical Examiner’s Office in Rochester that no one by the name of Reddout had died at the hospital, said Capt. Bruce Arends. “We have confirmed he is not deceased,” Arends said. “He is alive and well and breathing.”

Osage Memorial Cemetery, where he was allegedly buried during graveside services Dec. 27, doesn’t exist. The city runs Osage Cemetery — there’s no “memorial” in the title — but city officials said there was no activity there that day.

[…]

Courier Editor Saul Shapiro said this is the first time in his 23 years that he knows of where the paper ran a false obituary. He said the newspaper is looking at ways to take additional steps to confirm obituaries brought in by family members.

It only takes one idiot to make things miserable for everybody. Having to convince the newpaper than, no, your loved one really is dead is an additional burden no one needs.

And you have to love the dogged tenacity of reporters who, after it is confirmed that the boy is alive, nonetheless ensure that he is not buried at a funeral home that doesn’t exist.

via email tip from the Mrs.

Update: It seems today is Family Malfeasance Day at the OTB family of blogs. For more criminal hijinx, see “American Idol Bucky Covington’s Twin-Swapping Scandal” at Gone Hollywood.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Mark says:

    Well, if I was a reporter, I would head on over to the alleged gravesite to see if someone was actually buried there. I mean, who knows who I would find? It could be Jimmy Hoffa, and I would be on par with Bob Woodward!

  2. legion says:

    Yeah, give the Press credit for what little investigative reporting they do these days…

  3. I’m with legion on this. The MSM, especially their flagship paper the NYT, has enough trouble doing investigation. Let’s not discourage them.

  4. Bithead says:

    I am reminded of Monty Python….

    CART MASTER:
    (Yells) BRING OUT YOUR DEAD!!!

    CUSTOMER:
    Here’s one.

    CART MASTER:
    Ninepence.
    DEAD PERSON:
    I’m not dead!
    CART MASTER:
    What?
    CUSTOMER:
    Nothing. Here’s your ninepence.
    DEAD PERSON:
    I’m not dead!
    CART MASTER:
    ‘Ere. He says he’s not dead!
    CUSTOMER:
    Yes, he is.
    DEAD PERSON:
    I’m not!
    CART MASTER:
    He isn’t?
    CUSTOMER:
    Well, he will be soon. He’s very ill.
    DEAD PERSON:
    I’m getting better!
    CUSTOMER:
    No, you’re not. You’ll be stone dead in a moment.
    CART MASTER:
    Oh, I can’t take him like that. It’s against regulations.
    DEAD PERSON:
    I don’t want to go on the cart!
    CUSTOMER:
    Oh, don’t be such a baby.
    CART MASTER:
    I can’t take him.
    DEAD PERSON:
    I feel fine!
    CUSTOMER:
    Well, do us a favour.
    CART MASTER:
    I can’t.
    CUSTOMER:
    Well, can you hang around a couple of minutes? He won’t be long.
    CART MASTER:
    No, I’ve got to go to the Robinsons’. They’ve lost nine today.
    CUSTOMER:
    Well, when’s your next round?
    CART MASTER:
    Thursday.
    DEAD PERSON:
    I think I’ll go for a walk.
    CUSTOMER:
    You’re not fooling anyone, you know. Look. Isn’t there something you can do?
    DEAD PERSON: [singing]
    I feel happy. I feel happy.
    [whop]
    CUSTOMER:
    Ah, thanks very much.
    CART MASTER:
    Not at all. See you on Thursday.

  5. Brian says:

    LOL … “The reported death of a Waterloo teenager was greatly exaggerated…” has to be the understatement of the century. But I guess when you were the patsy in the scheme, it’s gentler than saying, “WRONG!”

    And what is it with Iowans? This reminded of the story from a couple summers ago when the Mississippi kept flooding. Two guys from Iowa were busted for trying to destroy a levee so that one guy’s wife couldn’t get home from work and they could keep sitting around and drinking all night.

    Anyway, I need to get running. I don’t feel like coming to work tomorrow so I’m going to burn down the building. It’s a pretty big building with lots of alarms and sprinklers and stuff, so I’d better get busy.

    P.S. If the building really does burn down for some reason … I was just kidding.

  6. John Burgess says:

    Back in 1993, when my parents died a few months apart, the Wash Post required death certificates before they would run an obit. I guess the abuse of the system started a lot earlier…

  7. Renea Williams says:

    The city that I live in does not automatically post obituaries. The only ones the paper accept obits from is the funeral homes. They have to send the information through fax or email with some type of verification who it has come from.(Which funeral home)Anybody can not just walk into the newspaper & say I need to post an obit. It has to come from a funeral service.