The alleged death of two American businessmen with a collapsing enterprise may be part of an elaborate hoax that fooled reporters in both the United States and Mexico.
Antonio Neri Johnston, a reporter for El Occidental newspaper in Guadalajara, Mexico, reported last week that the bodies of Americans Michael Davies and Derald Johnston, identified as the CEO and CFO, respectively, of Southridge Enterprises in Dallas, had been discovered.
Johnston said that a man who identified himself as a police officer in a isolated Mexican village allegedly told him that the bodies of the two men had been found in a river near the town with their documents on them.
"The strange thing is, they called me, but also other colleagues," the reporter told ABC News. “We were fed a story, and many of us ran with it.”
Neither police in the U.S. or Mexico have reported that the men’s bodies had been found, nor have the struggling business owners been reported missing.
Some suspect that the two men faked their own deaths in part to flee from their dicey financial situation.
Southridge Enterprises recently had their registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission revoked and starting early last year the company was engaged in a lengthy legal dispute with Bandera Gold, a gold exploration company in Alberta, Canada. The battle is over who had surface rights to Cinco Minas in Jalisco, Mexico and the $5.6 million joint venture the companies had in the mine.
"[Southridge] was claiming a comprehensive drill program and they were intercepting bonanza grades -- all of which when we were acutely aware the site was dormant. It has not had activity since late 2007," said Stephen Roehrig, Bandera's CEO.
Roehrig added that he has not heard from Davies and Johnston, despite repeated attempts to speak with them.
"We made efforts to try and communicate with them," Roehrig told ABC News. "There's never been evidence that he at all exists. All attempts to communicate with him ended up as a dead end."