The wife of a man who was missing for five years says she knew he was alive and that a photo of the two taken last year in Panama was authentic, British newspapers reported Thursday.
Anne Darwin's purported comments were splashed across front pages around Britain as police in northeast England prepared to question her 57-year-old husband John, who has claimed to have amnesia.
He was arrested early Wednesday on suspicion he may have faked his death. Police have 48 hours to charge or release him.
Anne Darwin, who now lives in Panama, said in an interview published by The Daily Mail and The Daily Mirror newspapers that she initially believed her husband had died in the North Sea in March 2002, when he was believed to have had a canoeing accident.
"It was years later," she said, that her husband contacted her and revealed he was still alive, the newspapers said. She would not say when or how he made contact.
Surprised by plan
She said he has not been in Panama for the entire past five years, but that the couple had rented a villa for a brief holiday and that's when a real estate agent took their photo and posted it on his Web site.
Anne Darwin, 55, said she would return to Britain to explain to her sons and to police what happened.
"My sons will never forgive me," she was quoted as saying. "They knew nothing. They thought John was dead. Now they're going to hate me. They'll be devastated and will probably want nothing to do with me again."
She said she knew of her husband's plan to return to Britain, but what unfolded next surprised her.
"I knew he was going back. But I didn't know he was going to the police," she was quoted as saying.
Still loves her husband
She said it was possible her husband had suffered some kind of breakdown.
"Do I still love John? Yes I do, and it's probably what's got me in this situation. When you love someone, all you want to do is protect them," she was quoted as saying. "Maybe I just chose the wrong husband. I did nothing wrong in the beginning."
Anne Darwin acknowledged she could face prosecution in Britain, but said she planned to return and was consulting a lawyer.
"I don't want to live my life as a fugitive," she was quoted as saying.
Darwin was working as a prison officer when he disappeared in March 2002, his wife saying he apparently took his canoe into the North Sea. It was later found wrecked on a beach. A coroner officially declared him dead.