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Tuesday, June 19, 2018, 11:18 a.m.

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Fake will case leads to exhumation of Arkansas man's body

By The Associated Press

This article was originally published February 23, 2018 at 10:20 a.m. Updated February 23, 2018 at 4:04 p.m.



CAMDEN — An Arkansas judge granted a request to exhume the body of a man who died in a one-vehicle wreck in 2015 and whose fortune was stolen after a real estate agent faked his will.

The Ouachita County judge said Tuesday that it's reasonable to believe that Matthew Seth Jacobs' death may not have been because of the car accident and bodily trauma. The ruling authorized State Police to exhume Jacobs' remains and the state medical examiner to perform an autopsy, which hadn't been done before, Arkansas Business reported.

Jacobs had received a settlement after surviving the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. His estate was valued at $1.7 million.

The ruling came weeks after former Camden real estate agent Donna Herring and her 22-year-old daughter, Jordan Alexandra Peterson, pleaded guilty to federal crimes related to Jacobs' fake will. Herring pleaded guilty Jan. 26 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and Peterson pleaded guilty Feb. 15 to making a false statement to the FBI.

A lawsuit filed in 2016 on behalf of Jacobs' estate alleged that Jacobs was believed to be on his way to visit a girlfriend Jan. 19, 2015. Jacobs lost control of his car, slammed into a tree and died at the scene, according to a traffic report from State Police that was included in a probate filing.

Herring admitted to creating a fake will after Jacobs' death. The will left nearly all of Jacobs' assets to Peterson, with whom Jacobs had a romantic relationship, instead of to his only child.

Herring faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Peterson faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date hasn't been set in either case.

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