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Wife admits digging up corpse, faking husband's ca


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Wife admits digging up corpse, faking husband's car crash death

Associated Press

May 4, 2005, 10:15 AM EDT

GEORGETOWN, Texas -- A woman pleaded guilty to helping her husband fake his own death by digging up a corpse from a cemetery and then staging a fiery car accident in which the body was burned beyond recognition.

Molly Daniels pleaded guilty Tuesday to insurance fraud and hindering apprehension. A jury will decide her punishment this week. She faces probation to 20 years in prison.

Her husband, Clayton Wayne Daniels, is jailed pending trial on arson charges.

According to allegations in court records, Clayton Daniels dug up a body from a graveyard, placed it in his car and set the car on fire last June, burning the body beyond recognition. Prosecutors said a few weeks later, his wife introduced her 4-year-old son to her new boyfriend, Jake Gregg _ actually Daniels with his hair dyed black.

Authorities believe the body found in the wreck belonged to Charlotte Davis, an 81-year-old woman who died in 2003.

Investigators said Molly Daniels said her husband had exhumed a body from a cemetery, and they discovered there was no body in Davis' coffin.

In court, investigators said the June 18 wreck, in which the green Chevrolet was found scorched and at the bottom of a cliff, had seemed fishy from the start.

There were no skid marks on the road, they said, and an investigator found that the fire started in the driver's seat and was helped along by charcoal lighter fluid.

Texas Ranger Garth Davis also testified that when he interviewed Molly Daniels about the crash, she was surprisingly calm. Davis took a DNA sample from the charred body and from Clayton Daniels' mother and found the body was not Daniels'.

Davis said searches of the couple's home and Molly Daniels' work computer also revealed a complicated scheme to create a new identity for Daniels, including fake birth certificates and a Texas driver's license under the name Jacob Alexander Gregg.

Assistant District Attorney Jane Starnes blamed greed, pointing to a $110,000 life insurance policy. Officials also said the staged death came days before Clayton Daniels was to report to jail for failing to report to his probation officer. He had been given probation for a sexual assault of a young girl.

Defense lawyer Thomas Vasquez said Molly Daniels' motive was fear that her children, ages 4 and 1, would not have been allowed to have contact with their father under terms of his sentence.

Copyright © 2005, South Florida Sun-Sentinel


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