Did Ken Lay Fake His Death?

Status: Undetermined (I refuse to give him the benefit of the doubt)
image Ken Lay was reported dead on Wednesday. The medical examiner ruled the cause of death to be severe coronary disease. But almost as soon as word of his death hit the internet, the conspiracy theories started. Scott Adams summed up what many were thinking in his Dilbert Blog:
Does it seem suspicious to you that ex-Enron CEO Ken Lay died right before they could put his guilty ass behind bars? I wonder how many doctors you need to bribe to fake your own death. Is one enough? Or is there some special double-checking that the police do if the guy is heading for prison? I’m sure there’s a body, but I wonder if it’s his. I have a bad feeling that some pizza delivery guy’s last words to his coworkers were “Hey, I have a delivery to that Enron guy’s house! Wish me luck!”
Reality Rule 16.1 from Hippo Eats Dwarf seems appropriate here: For some, death is merely a career move.

The timing of Lay's death is what makes it so suspicious. It's not just that he died before serving any time. He died before the appeals process was completed and before being sentenced. Therefore, his convictions could be erased, severely complicating efforts to seize his assets. As the New York Times reports:
Mr. Lay's death effectively voids the guilty verdict against him, temporarily thwarting the federal government's efforts to seize his remaining real estate and financial assets, legal experts say. "The death of Mr. Lay in all likelihood will render the government's hard-fought victory null," said Christopher Bebel, a former federal prosecutor based here who specializes in securities fraud...
Any life insurance policies bought by Mr. Lay may also be shielded from federal seizure efforts since state laws normally cover such payments. While jurors found Mr. Lay guilty, his death may also complicate any efforts to go after life insurance proceeds, even if the original policies were acquired with ill-gotten gains.
In other words, Lay picked the perfect time to die. Of course, this doesn't mean he faked his death. It just makes his death seem awfully convenient for him (if he's still alive) and his family. (There's also a theory that he was murdered... or perhaps he could have committed suicide by using drugs to induce heart failure. I believe there are drugs capable of doing this.)

Lay isn't the first multi-millionaire to be suspected of faking his death. In 1932 billionaire Swedish businessman (and mega-swindler) Ivar Kreuger apparently committed suicide by shooting himself. But a rumor soon spread that he had actually faked his death and fled to Indonesia. Supposedly Kreuger's tobacconist later received from Sumatra a large order for custom-made Havana cigars. The tobacconist said that Kreuger was the only person who would have known how to place that order.

There's also the case of Michael de Guzman, geologist for Bre-X, and perpetrator of one of the greatest mining frauds in history. In March 1997 de Guzman supposedly committed suicide by jumping from a helicopter into the Indonesian jungle. But his corpse could never be positively identified, and last year one of his widows claimed that he had recently sent her money. So he might very well still be alive. Perhaps he's hiding out somewhere in an Indonesian resort with Ken Lay.

Oh, and this photo of Ken Lay's tombstone that's doing the rounds is obviously fake (1964-2006??? That would have made him 42). Last year the same picture was used to represent Johnnie Cochran's tombstone.


Posted on Sun Jul 09, 2006


My personal conspiracy theory is that the Bush people had Ken Lay whacked. I don't mean they had a Mob guy shoot him; they put something in his martini or something.

Ever seen Wag The Dog? Remember what happened to Dustin Hoffman's character, Stanley Motss? Any chance Kenny Boy might have tried to barter information about the administration for a lighter sentence?

For the record, I'm only about half-serious about this. Things like this DO happen; I'm just not sure it happened in THIS case.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Sun Jul 09, 2006  at  01:48 AM
I cast my vote into the hoax box...
Posted by Christopher  on  Sun Jul 09, 2006  at  09:50 AM
That Tombstone picture came from here:


Make your own tombstone - fun for all!

Posted by Wally  on  Sun Jul 09, 2006  at  11:05 AM
We talked about this around the office water cooler Friday. Our top theories were:
1. Kennie Boy (as his pal George W. Bush calls him) faked his death; and
2. His wife offed him so she wouldn't lose all the money he stole.

In any case, I hope there will be a thorough investigation, but given the way corporate criminals are coddled in this country, there probably won't be.
Posted by Big Gary  on  Sun Jul 09, 2006  at  01:03 PM
I would bet that there is more than a 50% chance that Lay is alive, especially because he is close to the Bush family, and therefore has special connections to all the secret government operations.

The Bushes have already proven that large illegalities are of no concern to them; certainly they would have no problem with a small illegality on behalf of and old friend and HUGE political contributor.

This may have all been pre-planned by Rove & Cheney, and approved by the boy President.
Posted by SoxSweepAgain  on  Tue Jul 11, 2006  at  08:41 AM
To ad an element to the conspiracy mode; one of the witnesses in the ENRON scandal has been found dead in a London park this Tuesday...

Posted by LaMa  in  Europe  on  Wed Jul 12, 2006  at  01:31 PM
Just for info - taking digitalis can give you an heart attack - if he committed suicide that's probably what he took.

But it is all very mysterious - I'd have thought it anyone was going to have a heart attack it'd be at a moment of great stress, like in court, or when he was arrested. And after all that embezzling, that man was so rich enough to arrange to 'disappear'. And it's been done before - look at John Stonehouse
Posted by Nona  on  Thu Feb 22, 2007  at  05:49 AM
I took into consideration that some Bush cronies might've whacked him, but the convenient timing of his "death" served to benefit both himself and his family. You only whack someone when they are dangerous to you or they messed up. Well, throwing him in prison for life seems like ample punishment so it couldn't be that. Neither seems to be the case here for the criminal elite running the gov't.

It seems to me paying a couple million to a doctor and forensic lab to produce a phony body here and a couple million to make the police look the other way there is very much plausible. Unfortunately, nobody can prove any of this. What a piece of trash Lay is.
Posted by Drew  on  Fri Sep 07, 2007  at  07:41 PM
I cast my vote into the hoax box
Posted by Life Insurance  on  Wed Feb 20, 2008  at  08:15 AM
He's sitting pretty with an expensive rubber nose job living in Switzerland chewing down $200 steaks $1000 bottles of wine and $5000 hookers. He travels to limited areas of the world often on one of his four private jets. He has even returned for visits to the US three times since his faked death. One particular visit was for Bush Sr birthday party.
Posted by greenback  on  Thu Jun 12, 2008  at  12:35 AM

1. Death cert. had time stamp dated the day before his death.

2. Coroner brought in from Mesa county.

3. Entered hospital as inpatient where one person works counter at night.

4. Collin Powell came to hospital next morning with stomach pains.

5. Sheriff is 26 years in office and was at fat farm that week.(Alcohol rehab.)

6. Lay's conviction overturned He Keeps his money.
Posted by alexei  on  Mon Aug 03, 2009  at  05:41 AM
i never for minute that Ken Lay died - he diverted and now that the Supreme Court has recently voted that his crime was less than criminal per se -- Good For him!
Posted by moses  on  Sat Jun 26, 2010  at  03:12 PM
I would say it's about a 60% chance that he faked his own death and is living large in the Caymans or someplace and about a 39% chance that his wife killed him or had him killed so she wouldn't lose out on his fortune. I give it about a 1% chance that it is above board and just a coincidence.
Posted by Bagley  on  Sat Oct 02, 2010  at  03:50 PM
When a person has "health issues" such as a history of heart trouble their attorney usually mentions it to the court, hoping their client will be treated less harshly.

As I recall, Lay's attorney never made such a statement - an automatic red flag so far as him being susceptible to a heart attack.

Lay likely had excellent health care, hence no surprises regarding unknown heart issues.

Naturally anyone is under stress when they are on the receiving end in court. But why should Lay have been under any more stress than any other person who stole billions from millions of people? Hint: ole Bernie seems to be handling his ordeal okay.

The list of questionable events surrounding Lay's death goes on and on.

Suffice it to say I think Lay did not die anywhere the week of his alleged death.

And I question whether he has died since then.

My guess is that he's enjoying the good life, probably not far from his own bedroom every night. In other words, I don't think he ever left the house.

If someone thoroughly monitored the household and his wife's activities, and particularly the money trail, I think this would sort itself out quickly.

Posted by Daryll  on  Wed Jun 06, 2012  at  05:10 AM
A wealthy CEO in his early 60s would surely have had thorough physical examinations which would indicate "severe cardiac disease" followed by angioplasty or heart bypass surgery. I'm not rich, but angioplasty has kept me going at 80.
Posted by Bruce Bethany  on  Fri Nov 23, 2012  at  05:18 AM
I don't buy into many conspiracy theories, but the timing was too perfect. And he was cremated quickly. Not only do rich people get the type of medical care that will detect severe coronary disease, they also rarely get cremated.
Posted by Billy Weems  on  Wed Jan 16, 2013  at  10:53 AM
I personally worked with him for close to 4 years, came relatively close to him, and although this was sometime after Enron, I found him to be one of the most courteous and decent individuals I've ever known and having heard of so many of the varied Enron stories, I did hear of somethings that you never heard the news mention from those that worked for him while at Enron. Overall, he was a very kind hearted person, that didn't give off the impression that so many of that kind of wealth do. He would always stop and talk to with you, but never with the attitude that because he's rich/famous, he treated you as a good friend. Had always been pleasant to be around. Whereas many of those means, tend to look down on you, wouldn't give you the time of day, yet if I asked for some of his time, he would gladly give it to you without expecting anything in return. I do wish he was still around, as I miss a person that's a perfect gentleman, didn't care of what background you came from, as if he'd known you your whole life.
Posted by J.Waugh  on  Wed Sep 11, 2013  at  12:03 PM
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