Teen Accused of Faking Shark Attack Death Jailed In California
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ A teen-ager accused of faking his death by shark attack in an alleged scheme to collect two $100,000 life insurance policies has been jailed in Los Angeles, police said.
Jeffrey Justice, 17, of Fort Pierce, could be returned to Florida immediately because he is a transient juvenile with no guardian in California, said Joe Eubanks of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.
He was arrested Monday while driving a car that his girlfriend had reported stolen, The Palm Beach Post reported.
Justice was arrested on a juvenile ″pick-up order″ issued by St. Lucie County authorities on charges of conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and violation of probation by leaving the county.
Police said Justice and his best friend, Mike Kinster of Stuart, rented a boat on Sept. 5 and Kinster later told police that Justice was attacked by a shark, leaving behind only ″blood in the water,″ when he dived into the ocean to cool off.
The Coast Guard launched a two-day, $14,000 search that found no trace of Justice.
On Sept. 6, Kinster surrendered to police and told them Justice actually got off the boat near a bridge and was picked up by his girlfriend, Cindy Heen.
Ms. Heen said she knew nothing of the two insurance policies that named her as beneficiary. But 10 days ago, she said, Justice visited her Orlando apartment and stole her car.
″I told him to turn himself in and to call my dad for help,″ Ms. Heen said. ″I was never even thinking he would take off in my car.″
Early Monday, Los Angeles deputies stopped the car because it was weaving along the Pacific Highway, the Palm Beach newspaper said. A license check showed it had been reported stolen and Justice was jailed.
Justice’s mother, Pat Justice, said she learned of her son’s arrest Monday.
″I’m just glad they caught him, and he’ll stop running,″ she said. ″I intend to help him any way I can, and I will stand by him. I don’t support anything he’s done.″
Kinster is to appear in St. Lucie court Thursday on charges of conspiracy to commit grand theft and filing a false report.