The Dumbest Insurance Fraud Attempts Ever: #4

Couple Faked Death With Stolen Corpse of Opposite Sex

Clayton Daniels was neither a responsible nor good husband. After pleading guilty to sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl, he received a deferred ten-year sentence but failed to report to his probation officer, which brought him a 30-day jail sentence. Despite his appalling conduct, his wife, Molly, tried to save her husband from jail and earn some money at the same time by faking his death. The couple elaborated a shockingly brainless yet horrible plan that consisted of digging up the corpse of an 81-year-old woman from a cemetery and burning it in a staged car accident in June 2004.

Car fire in Lancaster 2005

When thinking of a way to hide her husband from the police, Molly Daniels decided to kill two birds with one stone and took out a $110,000 life insurance policy on Clayton. Afterwards, she spent most of her free time browsing the Internet to learn how to burn a human body beyond recognition and produce false documents. The couple dug up the corpse of Charlotte Davis, who had died in 2003 at the age of 81 and was buried in an area for people who can’t afford a burial plot or have little or no family. The couple dressed the corpse in Clayton’s clothes, from shoes to a baseball cap, placed it behind the wheel of a green Chevrolet, pushed the car off a cliff in Burnet County, and burned it.

Clayton vanished after the “accident” just so that he could return home only a few weeks later with dyed hair and a moustache. Molly introduced him to their four-year-old son, neighbours, and friends as her new boyfriend, Jake Gregg. Jake Gregg wasn’t a very talkative person, nor did he go outside very often. On the few occasions that he had left the house, he mostly wore a baseball cap fitted low over his face.

Investigators found the burned wreck with an unrecognizable corpse three days before Clayton Daniels was to report to prison. Molly Daniels identified the corpse to be her husband based on the sole of a shoe found in the car, eager to collect the $110,000 insurance money. However, investigators were suspicious from the very beginning, as the whole incident seemed a bit unrealistic.


Apparently, there were no skid-marks on the road or any other signs of a high-speed traffic accident. Arson investigation revealed that the fire started in the driver’s seat, not in the fuel tank or other more common places, and was accelerated by charcoal lighter fluid, not gasoline. Little was left from the body, but investigators were able to take a DNA sample. A comparison of the DNA with the DNA of Clayton’s mother revealed that the body was not Clayton’s.

His wife seemed to be too calm for a person whose husband was recently burned alive. The reason for her calmness was quickly revealed as investigators searched their home, finding a detailed preparation of the “accident” on her computer. Molly’s Internet browser history showed that she spent quite a lot of time researching how to fake her husband’s death and obtain false documents. Moreover, investigators found a list of plastic surgeons in Mexico, fake birth certificates, high school transcripts, credit reports, and Jake Gregg’s false Texas driver’s license.


Molly Daniels pleaded guilty to felony charges of insurance fraud and hindering apprehension, claiming that her conduct was not motivated by greed but rather was a desperate attempt to keep her family from falling apart. Nevertheless, her supposed motive did not convince the jury, and she ended up with 20 years for insurance fraud and a concurrent ten-year sentence for hindering her husband’s apprehension. Clayton received 20 years for insurance fraud, 15 years for arson, and ten for desecration of a cemetery to be served concurrently.

The LSM Insurance Take:

I’m surprised Clayton was able to get the life insurance policy approved. Most applications ask questions regarding conviction or prison sentences. They likely lied on the application, and even if the police didn’t catch it, it’s unlikely the policy would have paid out, as that would have been a relatively easy thing to catch during the claim paying process.

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  • skitterybug
    August 7, 2014 at 7:24 am

    wow, that is a half-assed job if ever i saw one. Just the idea that you could not only use a corpse of the opposite sex but also not do the research on how to make the death look real…But he really deserves to be in prison for sexually abusing that girl.

  • David Swinson
    June 26, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Loved it when the criminals made my job easier. Really liking this series. Thanks for sharing.

  • Insurepronews
    June 26, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Unbelievable the lengths some will go to! Insurance fraud affects us all; we all end up paying!

  • Tryboy
    June 26, 2014 at 8:07 am

    This just goes to prove the old adage ‘when you find your self in a hole, stop digging…or you will find a wrong gender corpse to fake…’

  • TheNewOldFastSlow
    June 26, 2014 at 8:07 am

    For every bad idea, there’s someone who has made a serious attempt at trying it.

  • TheMysticalWarrior
    June 26, 2014 at 8:06 am

    Don’t let the Coen brothers see this.

  • Robert Cartwright
    June 26, 2014 at 5:42 am

    It’s truly amazing what people will do to get out of things. Just had a personal experience almost on the same level. WOW!!!

  • Tony
    June 23, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Did his wife get the insurance for her husband after all his criminal offenses? Like you mention, they probably lied in the application, however would the insurance company find out later that they lied?

    • LSM Insurance
      June 23, 2014 at 11:46 am

      Thanks Tony. If the death occurred in the first two policy years the insurance company would scrutinize the claim they can also do a check on older policies where they suspect something is off side.