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Steve Fossett dead: Official

Court rules on disappeared adventurer

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A Chicago court last Friday declared Steve Fossett officially dead - five months after he and his aircraft went missing in Nevada.

The 63-year-old adventurer disappeared on 3 September last year after taking off from Barron Hilton's Flying M Ranch, roughly 70 miles southeast of Reno, in his Bellanca Citabria Super Decathalon.

An exhaustive search failed to locate the presumed wreckage of the aircraft, and in November his wife Peggy Fossett asked Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago to declare him dead.

Judge Jeffrey Malak duly said in his ruling: "I believe the evidence is more than sufficient."

Peggy Fossett had previously denied rumours that her husband has faked his own demise. She said last year: "None of Steve's wealth was transferred out or withdrawn in any manner that would suggest a planned disappearance. Steve has not accessed any of his assets since his disappearance. Steve had no debt and no life insurance."

According to the Chicago Tribune, court papers describe Fossett's estate as "vast", running into eight figures. ®

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