The Massapequa man feared drowned at Jones Beach last weekend cleaned out his wife’s bank account, changed his will and wanted to cash in his life insurance policy while rescuers were searching for him, according to his wife and her attorney.
“I was planning a funeral for him, I lost my husband,” Evana Roth recalled thinking when her husband of 12 years, Raymond, was reported to have been last seen swimming in the ocean Saturday.
Authorities said this week that Roth was not swept out to sea. Instead, he was “vacationing” in Florida and was alive and well, Evana said.
On Thursday, she stumbled on emails meant for her stepson that indicates “there was some kind of scheme,” said her attorney, Lenard Leeds, at a packed news conference inside his Carle Place office.
In one email sent the day before he was reported missing, Roth wrote to his son that he needs “to get to the bank for cash for the trip…DO NOT allow that asshole to give the house away.”
New York State Parks police and Nassau County police obtained a search warrant Thursday and seized the computers inside the house.
The once tragic story took a bizarre turn when New York State Parks police were notified that Roth was alive in Florida.
Authorities first made contact with Roth early Thursday morning in Santee, South Carolina, when an officer pulled him over on Interstate-95 for traveling 90 mph, said New York State Parks Police Captain Bruce Marx.
When the officer went back in his police cruiser and checked Roth’s license he came up as a missing person, Marx said, prompting the officer to immediately call police on Long Island. He was let go because it’s not against the law to go missing, Marx noted.
“Mr. Roth called here yesterday and said that he wanted to come in and he was going to tell us the whole story,” recalled Marx. He had another conversation later in the day and Roth told Marx he was in Washington D.C.
Police figured Roth would be back home in a couple of hours but “we haven’t heard from him since,” said Marx.
Roth may not be traveling up and down the east coast at all, said Evana. She heard from neighbors that there have been sightings of him in a beige car near the couple’s house, which Roth recently put up for sale after he lost his job last month.
Roth hasn’t been quiet since he learned that his wife discovered the emails. He’s tried to call her a handful of times and has sent her text messages as well, Evana said.
“I heard you’re having a press conference,” Roth reportedly texted his wife. “Be nice.”
She said the first call from him came 30 minutes after discovering the emails on the computer. When she picked up and heard him say “Evana,” she got nervous and hung up because “it was my dead husband calling,” she said.
Evana spoke to him again just after midnight on Friday while detectives were seizing the computers from the house. Roth said he was at a bar in North Carolina. “It appeared he was under the influence,” she said.
When asked why he did disappeared, Roth responded to her, “It didn’t work out as I thought…I did it for you.”
The Nassau County District Attorney’s office released a statement saying it’s collaborating with police and the investigation is ongoing. “No decision has been made as to whether criminal charges will be filed,” the statement said.
Leeds, Evana’s lawyer, said about $10,000 was emptied for his client’s account and that Roth doubled his life insurance policy prior to disappearing.
“I had no knowledge at all that he would do anything of this sort,” Evana said, adding that she had no idea why Roth would concoct a plan to fake his own death.
She speculated that he got desperate and was depressed after being fired from his job at Level 3 Communications.
Evana described their marriage as strained, said Roth was a “cold” person and compared living with him like “living with a roommate.”
She first learned of his disappearance on Saturday after receiving a call from her stepson that Roth disappeared in the water. He was feared dead.
Roth’s blue shirt, boat shoes, keys, a cell phone and his wallet were found at the beach.
Evana has two other children from a previous marriage.
She also apologized to law enforcement and friends and family who took part in the search for her husband, which reportedly cost tens of thousands of dollars to conduct.
“I feel a sadness that he put a lot of people in danger to look for him that thought he drowned,” she said.