FORT WORTH -- The first time Michael A. Gilbert "died," he faked drowning while swimming off the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 2002.
The Coast Guard searched the waters but soon determined that the "cousin" who had reported the drowning was, in fact, Gilbert, a registered sex offender who had been trying to avoid arrest on a parole violation warrant.
For his second "death," Fort Worth police say, Gilbert tried to make his demise more convincing by providing a body, this time in an attempt to skirt a new sexual molestation case.
Fort Worth police suspect that Gilbert targeted a homeless man who was roughly his same size and build, shot him in the head, placed his body in the trunk of Gilbert's car and set it ablaze, hoping investigators would believe that the body was Gilbert's.
Authorities were still trying to positively identify the victim Thursday.
"This is the first time I am aware of ... that we've investigated someone attempting to stage their own death," homicide Sgt. Cheryl Johnson said.
Gilbert, 42, was arrested Tuesday night after a seven-hour standoff at a west Fort Worth apartment complex on warrants alleging sexual assault of a child under age 17 and failure to register a change of address. He cut his neck before being arrested and remained hospitalized Thursday under police guard.
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