The cracking new thriller The Five follows four childhood friends Mark (Tom Cullen), Pru (Sarah Solemani), Danny (O-T Fagbenle) and Slade (Lee Ingleby) drawn into a baffling mystery when Mark’s brother Jesse, presumed dead, turns up 20 years later, his DNA linked to a murder.
Jim Mitchell

14 Jul 2016 - 10:54 AM  UPDATED 14 Jul 2016 - 10:54 AM

Although fictional, The Five, from bestselling crime novelist Harlan Coben provees to be as shocking and surprising as real life cases of reappearance after presumed death. 

Here is our top three of the most bizarre real life cases.

Out of the fire

For six years, Luz Cuevas had a niggling doubt as to whether her ten-day-old daughter Delimar Vera had perished in a fire in their Philadelphia home late in 1997.

Her doubt was confirmed when in 2004 at a birthday party, Cuevas noticed the resemblance to herself and her two children of a six-year-old girl.

Cuevas reportedly managed to take some strands of the girl’s hair under the ruse of stuck bubblegum and DNA proved she was in fact her daughter.

Delimar’s remains were never found. Thought to have been incinerated. She’d been kidnapped by a recent acquaintance, Carolyn Correa, who started the fire and raised Delimar as her own.

Cuevas was reunited with Delimar in 2004. 


The Living Dead 

What do you do when you’re alive but legally declared dead, not once but twice? That’s the conundrum Ohio man Donald Eugene Miller Jr. found himself in after resurfacing almost 20 years after he was declared legally dead in 1994. 

Miller Jr. had reportedly drifted away from his family due to alcoholism and unemployment in 1986. When he reappeared, Miller Jr., 61, was forced in 2013 to testify in court that he was in fact very much alive. But, since Ohio law won’t reverse a declaration of death after three years have passed, Miller Jnr. was declared dead a second time. 

“I don’t know where that leaves you, but you’re still deceased as far as the law is concerned,” Judge Allan H. Davis told him. 

“Every time you think you’ve seen everything,” said Judge Davis “something like this comes along.”  

Dead right.


Funeral crasher

Beat this for sweet, sweet revenge. Noela Rukundo scared the bejesus out of husband Balenga Kalala after he had taken out a hit on her life. She ambushed him at her own ‘funeral’ in Melbourne in 2015; Kalala had organised the funeral after believing the hit had been successful 

Her husband thought Rukundo was being unfaithful and planned the hit to occur while she was visiting her home nation of Burundi, Africa for the funeral of her stepmother (top bloke!). 

But Rukundo’s prospective killers proved to be much less morally bankrupt than expected. They said they’d spare Rukundo’s life but told her husband they’d killed her, even reportedly arming her with evidence of the ordered hit.

Assisted by her priest to get back to Australia and hide the ruse, Rukundo finally confronted her husband outside her house where her ‘funeral’ was being held. 

"I felt like somebody who had risen again," she later said.


Follow the mystery of presumed-dead Jesse in The Five, streaming at SBS On Demand now.
Check out the first episode below:

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