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Missing man's wife: Drowning likely a scam

Evana Roth speaks at her attorney's office in

Evana Roth speaks at her attorney's office in Carle Place about her husband, Raymond Roth, who was feared drowned but turned up days later in Florida. (Aug. 3, 2012) Credit: Ed Betz

The wife of a missing Massapequa man who was feared drowned off Jones Beach, but turned up days later in Florida, now suspects it was all a scam to collect on a life insurance policy.

Telling reporters Friday that she fears for her safety, Evana Roth said emails found on her home computer appear to indicate that her husband and his adult son faked the drowning.

Authorities said the whereabouts of Raymond Roth, 47, are unknown. He had initially fled to Orlando, Fla., and was pulled over for speeding early Wednesday in Santee, S.C., police said.

State park police had arranged a late-night meeting Thursday with Roth at Jones Beach but he failed to show up, Capt. Bruce Marx said.

Evana Roth, 45, a receptionist at a doctor's office, said her husband had been distraught over recently losing his job and may have seen "no way out."

Asked if she thought the reported drowning was a scam, she said, "Absolutely, if he didn't die, and he was in Florida."

She spoke at the Carle Place office of her attorney, Lenard Leeds, who said Raymond Roth tripled the value of his life insurance policy in January. He refused to provide further details.

Evana Roth released what she said were three emails dated July 27 -- the day before the reported drowning -- sent from her husband to his live-at-home son, Jonathan Roth, 22.

In the messages, Raymond Roth mentions packing up his car for a "trip" and arranging for a bank withdrawal. He also instructs his son to call him at "the resort" at a specific time the night of July 29, using either "a pay phone or . . . your friends phone."

Park police said they don't have the emails and could not immediately verify them. The case remains under investigation and no criminal charges have been filed.

Jonathan Roth -- Evana Roth's stepson -- couldn't be reached for comment.

Shocked by the turn of events, Evana Roth said she was convinced her husband had drowned. "I was planning for a funeral," she said. "I thought I'd lost my husband."

In another strange twist, she said she received a text message from her husband of 12 years Friday morning, saying he had heard she was holding a news conference.

"Be nice," she said the message read. "Almost 15 years together."

Evana Roth said her husband also called late Thursday night -- about the time police were removing a computer, monitor and safe from the family's Commonwealth Avenue home.

He told her he was in North Carolina, she said. When she asked him why he fled, she said he replied, "It didn't work out as I thought it would."

Fearing reprisals, she said she had the locks changed at home and intends to seek a protection order.

Roth said her husband put their house up for sale last month. He recently lost his managerial job at Level 3 Communications, a telecommunications company based in Broomfield, Colo. A company spokesman had no comment Friday.

Raymond Roth was presumed drowned after his 22-year-old son said his father disappeared July 28 while swimming in the ocean off Jones Beach's Field 6.

Roth instead had driven to Orlando, said police, who were tipped off by Roth's brother. Roth has a time share at a resort in that city, his wife said.

An operator at the Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa in Orlando said Roth had a reservation there for July 29 through Aug 5. A hotel employee said Friday he has not checked out. A call to Roth's room went unanswered.

Leeds said he had been retained by Evana Roth earlier this week in anticipation of him handling estate proceedings. "This was an estate issue, potentially a wrongful-death action, and now it's evolved into a matrimonial dispute," Leeds said. "She is totally shocked by what happened."

With John Valenti and David Urberti

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