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Olivia Newton-John death: Mystery of Patrick McDermott, one-time lover who vanished at sea

The mysterious fate of Olivia Newton-John’s on-off lover haunted the singer in her later years after he disappeared without trace – amid lurid claims he faked his own death.

Patrick McDermott, 48, went on an overnight fishing trip with 22 other people on June 30, 2005, but vanished before it returned to dry land without anyone noticing.

For almost two decades afterwards, he was rumoured to be in hiding in Mexico, on the run from crushing debts.

But repeated manhunts by police, media and private detectives have never been able to find any conclusive proof, despite constant reports of him being spotted.

‘I don’t think I will ever really be at peace with it,’ Newton-John admitted. 

‘I think there will always be a question mark.’

The mysterious fate of Olivia Newton-John's on-off lover Patrick McDermott haunted the singer in her later years after he disappeared without trace amid claims he faked his own death

The mysterious fate of Olivia Newton-John’s on-off lover Patrick McDermott haunted the singer in her later years after he disappeared without trace amid claims he faked his own death

She hooked up with McDermott after her 1995 divorce from first husband Matt Lattanzi and began a nine-year on-off romance with the cameraman. 

Newton-John was on a promotional tour in Australia when McDermott disappeared and it was another week after the fishing trip until it was noticed he had gone.

Crew on his fishing boat had found the American’s car keys, passport and wallet on board the boat and his car was found parked at the San Pedro marina in Los Angeles.

But still no-one realised he was missing until he failed to appear at a family event on July 6, with police finally called in on July 11. 

By then though the trail had gone cold – and investigators turned up nothing.

McDermott had previously been briefly married and fathered a son, and a court had recently ordered him to pay $8000 in backdated child support.

Olivia Newton-John (seen here with daughter Chloe Lattanzi) hooked up with Patrick McDermott after her 1995 divorceand began a nine year on-off romance with the cameraman

Olivia Newton-John (seen here with daughter Chloe Lattanzi) hooked up with Patrick McDermott after her 1995 divorceand began a nine year on-off romance with the cameraman

Olivia Newton-John (seen here with daughter Chloe Lattanzi) hooked up with Patrick McDermott after her 1995 divorceand began a nine year on-off romance with the cameraman

Patrick McDermott, 48, went on an overnight fishing trip with 22 other people on June 30, 2005, but vanished before the boat 'Freedom' returned to dry land without anyone noticing

Patrick McDermott, 48, went on an overnight fishing trip with 22 other people on June 30, 2005, but vanished before the boat 'Freedom' returned to dry land without anyone noticing

Patrick McDermott, 48, went on an overnight fishing trip with 22 other people on June 30, 2005, but vanished before the boat ‘Freedom’ returned to dry land without anyone noticing

He had filed for bankruptcy with debts of more than $30,000, prompting speculation he’d faked his death to escape and start anew.

A Coast Guard inquiry admitted they ‘did not find any evidence of criminal action, suicide, accident or hoax in the disappearance of McDermott.’

A three-year probe into the ‘Freedom’ fishing boat found it didn’t carry out any head counts on the day of the trip, causing McDermott’s disappearance to go unnoticed.

Both probes concluded McDermott was likely lost at sea during the night.

But eye witnesses continued to report seeing him around Mexico, where he was said to be living on a yacht off the coast of Sayulita and Acapulco.

TV companies repeatedly sent teams of undercover film crews and private detective to hunt for him and set up sophisticated online website traps to trace him.

For almost two decades afterwards, he was rumoured to be in hiding in Mexico, on the run from crushing debts and said to be living on a yacht off the Mexican coast at Sayulita

For almost two decades afterwards, he was rumoured to be in hiding in Mexico, on the run from crushing debts and said to be living on a yacht off the Mexican coast at Sayulita

For almost two decades afterwards, he was rumoured to be in hiding in Mexico, on the run from crushing debts and said to be living on a yacht off the Mexican coast at Sayulita

Eye witnesses reported seeing Patrick McDermott around Mexico, including around Acapulco

Eye witnesses reported seeing Patrick McDermott around Mexico, including around Acapulco

Eye witnesses reported seeing Patrick McDermott around Mexico, including around Acapulco

One investigator John Nazarian insisted in 2016: ‘It’s rumoured he was with a German national. I spoke to people there. 

‘The girl he was travelling with was described as having a German accent.

‘To come up with the conclusion that he fell off the boat, and allegedly no-one saw him fall off the boat, is the most preposterous thing I’ve ever heard in my life.’

All the manhunts proved fruitless though and McDermott remained elusive.

Photographs of a man and a woman said to be McDermott and his new lover in Mexico were published in 2017 by New Idea magazine.

But the claims were undone weeks later when a Canadian couple came forward to say they were the people in the photograph.

Olivia Newton-John put the tragedy behind her to get on with life, meeting future husband John Easterling and marrying him at an Inca ritual in Peru in 2008

Olivia Newton-John put the tragedy behind her to get on with life, meeting future husband John Easterling and marrying him at an Inca ritual in Peru in 2008

Olivia Newton-John put the tragedy behind her to get on with life, meeting future husband John Easterling and marrying him at an Inca ritual in Peru in 2008

Olivia Newton-John put the tragedy behind her to get on with life, meeting future husband John Easterling and marrying him at an Inca ritual in Peru in 2008.

But the mystery continued to stalk her in the years that followed, but she herself had resigned herself to the fact McDermott was most probably dead. 

‘He was lost at sea, and nobody really knows what happened,’ Newton-John told 60 Minutes in 2016.

‘It’s human to wonder. Because whenever you go through difficult times, there’s always those concerns.

‘But you know, those are the things in life you have to accept and let go. Of course questions always come up and that’s human.

‘I live on.’

WHAT HAPPENED TO OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN’S LOST LOVER? 

Theories have raged for almost two decades about the fate of Olivia Newton-John’s on-off lover, movie cameraman Patrick McDermott, 48.

He vanished on an overnight 22-hour fishing trip on the boat ‘Freedom’ out of  San Pedro marina in Los Angeles on June 30, 2005.

The boat’s crew found his car keys, wallet and passport on board after all the other passengers disembarked the following day, and his car was found parked nearby.

The crew hadn’t done a headcount so no-one noticed he was missing for another week when he failed to turn up for a family event, with police alerted almost a week later..

Since then speculation has raged about what happened to him, with investigators unable to find any evidence of a crime, suicide, hoax or an accident on the fishing trip.

Officials believe he simply fell overboard and drowned, but conspiracy theorists insist he may have had another boat lined up to meet him offshore.

Others believe he may have planted his belongings on the boat before slipping off, possibly before it even left port, without any noticing. 

Private detectives set up a website FindPatrickMcDermott.com to try to trap the missing American into giving himself away, identifying the location of everyone who accessed the site.

Olivia Newton-John kept in touch with McDermott's ex-wife Yvette Nipar (pictured) on the fate of the missing American movie cameraman

Olivia Newton-John kept in touch with McDermott's ex-wife Yvette Nipar (pictured) on the fate of the missing American movie cameraman

Olivia Newton-John kept in touch with McDermott’s ex-wife Yvette Nipar (pictured) on the fate of the missing American movie cameraman

A flurry of web traffic from the  Sayulita area of Mexico’s West Coast sparked a hunt for him there without any success.

Others say they spotted him living on a yacht off the coast of Acapulco, 1000km further south.

One investigator claimed to have found him and spoken with him in 2009, claiming he just wanted be left alone but the claim was unsubstantiated.

Another claimed to have categoric proof he was alive and was on the verge of revealing it – but never did. 

Over the years there has been at least 20 sightings of him in Mexico and Central America, but many have proved false.

One set of pictures of a couple alleged to be the distinctive looking McDermott – who was half-Korean and adopted at the age of two – turned out to be a Canadian couple. 

His ex-wife Yvette Nipar, the mother of their son Chance, begged for the speculation to end for the sake of their child.

She pleaded with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to block the publication of a book by private eye Philip Klein about her ex’s disappearance. 

‘My son has been through enough emotional torment over this,’ Nipar wrote, branding Klein a ‘serial liar’. 

‘He has yet to be able to move on.due to Mr Klein’s continual effort to keep him in the public eye.

‘Let him rest in peace.’ 

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