Wife of Back-From-The-Dead Canoeist Begs for Forgiveness

The wife of a man suspected of faking his death has begged for forgiveness and vowed to return to Britain where police plan to question her for fraud, British newspapers reported Friday.

Anne Darwin told the British press that she was in contact with her husband John Darwin, 52, during the five years when he was believed to be dead. She also said she felt guilty for lying to her sons.

"I have been living my life as a lie, constantly looking over my shoulder, realizing something like this could happen at some stage," Anne Darwin was quoted as telling The Daily Mirror and The Daily Mail. "I was never relaxed — always on edge and knowing the truth could come out at any time."

A police officer who requested anonymity because an investigation into Darwin's disappearance is underway said she will be detained upon her return.

On Wednesday night, the mother-of-two left Panama, where the couple allegedly bought an apartment. She is believed to be in Miami and making preparations for her return.

A court on Friday granted police 36 more hours to question and detain John Darwin, who is being investigated as part of the fraud inquiry. Darwin seemed relaxed during the court hearing and remained silent.

Police Detective Inspector Andy Greenwood, who is leading the investigation, declined to say what Darwin has said during questioning, but indicated that he had started to offer a defense.

A British newspaper reported Friday that John Darwin secretly tried to buy a yacht in Gibraltar in 2005.

Mrs. Darwin says she lied to her children for years. The couple's sons said Thursday they want no further contact with them.

"Who can blame them?" Anne Darwin was quoted as saying in the two British tabloids. "I lied to them — my own sons. What sort of mother am I?"

John Darwin, a former science teacher turned prison guard, was believed to have died in a canoe accident in the North Sea near their home in northeast England, in March 2002, and a coroner declared him officially dead. But Darwin, 57, appeared at a police station in London on Saturday, claiming to have suffered amnesia.

The Mirror reported he had been traveling on a fake passport under the name John Jones, and that his wife transferred money from her bank account in November 2005 to help him buy a yacht in Gibraltar, but the sale fell through. The newspaper printed what it described as a bank statement showing Mrs. Darwin's transfer and a copy of the initial yacht sale agreement with John Jones.

In comments published in newspapers Friday, Mrs. Darwin was quoted as saying it was her husband's idea to move to Panama, and that he was there when she arrived six weeks ago.

The couple were photographed there by a real estate agency for its Web site, she reportedly said.

An official at Panama's National Migration Department, who spoke anonymously because she was not authorized to speak publicly, said Anne Darwin left the country Wednesday night — but did not say where she went.

Investigators believe the husband and wife were communicating by telephone and applying for credit cards to fund a new life abroad, a police official told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is under way.

Inquiries into the supposed death began several months ago when Mrs. Darwin was overheard by an acquaintance speaking to her husband on the telephone, the official said.

Officers believe he was tipped off that an investigation was under way, the police official said.

Authorities are investigating whether Darwin hid in the United States since 2002, after an appeal for information produced calls mainly from the U.S. and Panama, the police official told The AP.