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19 March 2019

A cruel insurance fraud revealed by detectives: Woman stole body to fake death

Georgetown - A woman pleaded guilty to helping her husband fake his own death by digging up a corpse from a cemetery and then staging a fiery car accident in which the body was burned beyond recognition.

Molly Daniels pleaded guilty on Tuesday to insurance fraud and hindering apprehension.

A jury will decide her punishment this week. She faces probation to 20 years in prison.

Her husband, Clayton Wayne Daniels, is in jail pending trial on arson charges.

Authorities believe the couple staged Daniels's death to cash in a life-insurance policy and also for Daniels to avoid going to jail for a prior offence.

According to allegations in court records, Clayton Daniels dug up a body from a graveyard, placed it in his car and set the car on fire last June, burning the body beyond recognition.

Prosecutors said a few weeks later, his wife introduced her four-year-old son to her new boyfriend, Jake Gregg - actually Daniels with his hair dyed black.

Authorities believe the body found in the wreck belonged to Charlotte Davis, an 81-year-old woman who died in 2003.

Investigators said Molly Daniels had told them her husband had exhumed a body from a cemetery.

When they went to the cemetery, they discovered a grave, that of Davis, had been disturbed and then found there was no body in the coffin.

In court, investigators said the June 18 wreck, in which the green Chevrolet was found scorched and at the bottom of a cliff, had seemed fishy from the start.

There were no skid marks on the road, they said, and an investigator found that the fire started in the driver's seat and was helped along by charcoal lighter fluid.

Texas Ranger Garth Davis also testified that when he interviewed Molly Daniels about the crash, she was surprisingly calm.

Created new identity

Davis took a DNA sample from the charred body and from Clayton Daniels' mother and found the body was not Daniels'.

Davis said searches of the couple's home and Molly Daniels's work computer also revealed a complicated scheme to create a new identity for Daniels, including fake birth certificates and a Texas driver's license under the name Jacob Alexander Gregg.

Assistant district attorney Jane Starnes blamed greed, pointing to a $110 000 life-insurance policy.

Officials also said the staged death came days before Clayton Daniels was to report to jail for failing to report to his probation officer.

He had been given probation for a sexual assault of a young girl.