While Ashton Kutcher probably isn’t hiding around a corner, Olivia Newton-John may be getting the feeling that she’s been "punk’d": Her former partner, Patrick McDermott, went missing four years ago and was presumed dead. But now private investigators say he staged his own death in order to avoid debt and allow his son to collect on a $100,000 life insurance policy.

 

According to Australia’s The Courier-Mail, investigators believe Patrick has been on the run in Mexico and South America since vanishing from a fishing boat in June 2005.

"He’s alive – there’s no doubt in my mind, this guy’s alive," lead investigator Philip Klein tells the paper.

Patrick and Olivia had been dating for nine years when he disappeared off the coast of California, and an official US Coast Guard report indicated he had likely drowned.

 

Dateline hired Klein, a specialist in tracking down kidnap victims and missing people who do not want to be found in March 27 to look into the former cameraman’s disappearance.

"Patrick McDermott walked off The Freedom and Patrick McDermott’s running in Mexico – that simple," Klein said. "We’re close.

 

Olivia has since married millionaire John Easterling and moved to Florida.

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