Federal prosecutors have dropped their investigation into the disappearance of Olivia Newton-John's alleged boyfriend of nine years, Patrick McDermott.
But investigations by the US Coast Guard and the Tabloid Baby team remain open. And McDermott is believed to remain on the run.
Six months after Tabloid Baby revealed evidence that McDermott faked his own death and was in Mexico, prosecutors have failed to turn up any clues into his disappearance on an overnight fishing trip off the coast of California last year. The US Attorney's office had been investigating the crew and owners of the fishing boat Freedom over the disappearance, but failed to find any evidence they were responsible.
The case rose to the surface in June, when Australian reporter Nick Papps followed Tabloid Baby's lead and found more evidence that McDermott was alive and seen in an around the town of Todos Santos on the Baja peninsula.
The chase was muddied when the celebutainment show Extra jumped on the bandwagon and promised to perform DNA tests on a possible McDermott its investigator had discovered in the region. After the show and its ancillary website Tmz.com generated worldwide publicity for the find and tests, it was revealed that the hat had actually been handed to Extra by a local reporter in Todos Santos-- and that Extra had returned the hat-- untested and contaminated. The cruel and cynical ratings ploy led some to speculate that the Warner Bros. show was involved in the coverup of McDermott's disappearance.
Prosecutors had been using a grand jury to quiz crew members of the Freedom over a galley tab that showed McDermott's food and drink bill had been paid just hours before the Freedom came to shore in San Pedro. The investigators had been trying to determine whether McDermott had paid the bill himself or someone had paid it to cover up his disappearance.
The prosecutor's letter noted it "may reopen this investigation at any time should it receive additional pertinent evidence relating to this matter," but for now, the owners of the Freedom sportfishing boat are very relieved to be off the hook. Just two days ago, Tabloid Baby received an email inviting us on a September fishing expedition in the same area where McDermott had last fished.
When McDermott disappeared, he was in debt and facing possible jail time over unpaid child support.
Again, the case remains open here.