MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Did the man accused of faking his own drowning at Jones Beach force his son to help him?
Jonathan Roth, who is facing felony charges and prison time, is now telling a far different story from the one he told authorities on July 28, when he reported seeing his father disappear.
That report launched a massive and expensive search and rescue effort to find his father, Raymond Roth, who was stopped for speeding days later in South Carolina.
Following that, the apparent hoax was quickly uncovered.
When asked by Dr. Phil McGraw on his television program if he helped his father fake his death, Jonathan Roth replied he was “forced into helping him fake his death.”
“He discussed about what my role was supposed to be, that I had to make sure that everybody knew he was dead,” Jonathan Roth said.
Jonathan Roth claimed he would be dead if he didn’t go along with his father’s plan. He said the elder Roth kept a cache of weapons in the home and threatened to use them.
“He said that I would die and anyone I told would also die, so I was very afraid,” Jonathan Roth said.
The younger Roth also spoke of years of physical and mental abuse at the hands of his father.
Authorities allege both Raymond Roth and his son conspired to share a $400,000 insurance policy death benefit while keeping the money from Roth’s wife.
Dr. Phil asked Jonathan Roth why he finally told the truth.
“I was in police custody. I was in the safety and security of the police, so I had no more reason to fear my father,” he said.
But he did fear his father enough to hatch a plan that was poorly executed from the beginning. E-mails link the two and now, both are pointing the finger at one another.
“I had no other choice, I would have died otherwise,” Jonathan Roth said.
The wife of Raymond Roth and stepmother of Jonathan, Evana Roth, held a press conference in July, expressing her shock and outrage. Jonathon Roth did say although they have not spoken at all since the hoax, he would like to apologize.
Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …