CARLE PLACE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The wife of a Nassau County man who authorities thought had drowned off the waters of Long Island last weekend said she had no idea her husband was actually alive hundreds of miles away.
At a news conference Friday, Evana Roth said she was planning her husband Raymond Roth's funeral when she stumbled across a suspicious chain of e-mails between Roth and their son, allegedly detailing plans for Roth to fake his own death and disappear.
1010 WINS' Juliet Papa reports
"It's anger, it's sadness, it's the public that went out to save a man who was not there and vacationing in Florida," she said.
Her lawyer said Roth withdrew about $10,000 from his wife's bank account.
"He emptied out my accounts Friday, Saturday morning, even up to the time we supposedly think this poor man is drowning in the water," Evana Roth said.
Her husband was first reported missing by their 22-year-old son, Jonathan Roth, on Saturday. He told police his 47-year-old dad went for a swim beyond the lifeguard zone on Jones Beach and never came back.
That 911 call from Roth's son triggered an intense Coast Guard search totaling tens of thousands of dollars.While no one actually saw Roth swim away, the Massapequa man was presumed drowned.
Evana Roth said she was distraught about her husband until Wednesday when she discovered the e-mails, which she said sent instructions to their son on what to do about money and the house.
Attorney Lenard Leeds read one of those emails at Friday's news conference.
"Jonathan, there needs to be a way for me to find out how things are going. Call me Sunday night at 8 p.m. at the resort," he read, adding later "I need to get to the bank for cash for the trip."
Evana Roth said she then showed the e-mails to her husband's brother, who called police and told them Roth was in Florida.
"As soon as I found out, there was no way that I was gonna be any part of this," she said. "I had no knowledge."
Thursday morning, Roth was pulled over for speeding in South Carolina. The officer who issued the ticket discovered Roth was listed in a national registry of missing people.
WCBS 880's Sophia Hall reports
Roth said he was driving back to New York and the officer let him go. State Park Police Capt. Bruce Marx said there was no legal requirement for the officer to keep Roth in South Carolina.
"It's not a crime to be a missing person," said Marx.
But faking your own death is a crime and police now want to know if that's what happened.
Roth had recently fallen on hard times, losing his job after allegedly threatening co-workers, sources told CBS 2. He also put his house up for sale last week.
Neighbors said they were suspicious because something about his disappearance seemed strange.
"When I found out he was an avid swimmer and they couldn't find him, it just didn't seem right," said Roth's neighbor Jane Stone.
Police had several conversations with Roth on Thursday after getting his cell phone number from a relative and said he was on his way back to New York, but he has yet to surface.
Evana Roth said since January, her husband has tripled his life insurance policy and executed a new will last week.
It's not clear who stood to inherit the life insurance, but Evana Roth said she suspects it wasn't her, CBS 2's Carolyn Gusoff reported. Her stepson told police his father left his clothing and wallet behind on the beach.
"I'm horrified that a father can involve a son in something so tragic it can ruin the rest of your life," Evana Roth said.
Police searched the Roth's Massapequa home and seized computers. No charges have been filed against Raymond Roth and police said they don't know where he is. Evana Roth, however, said that she's received texts from him.
"It didn't work out as I thought it would," he wrote.
And later when he learned she was speaking to the media., she said he wrote, "Be nice. Almost 15 years together."
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