Life on the lam may have ended abruptly along the Mediterranean for a former NFL quarterback.
But even the reported death of William "Jeff" Komlo, 52, of Chester Springs, a smooth-talking fugitive wanted on charges that include arson, assault, and driving under the influence, is shrouded in mystery.
Kenneth D. Lemoine, an attorney who represented Komlo in Florida, said his former client had died Saturday in a car crash in Athens, Greece.
"I can confirm that he was involved in a fatal car accident," Lemoine said yesterday. "That's all I'm authorized to say."
Chester County District Attorney Joseph W. Carroll said he had received a report that Komlo, who disappeared in May 2005, was the victim of a fatal drunken-driving accident.
"I have no information that would lead me to believe this is a hoax, but because of his past actions, I will remain suspicious" until his identity is confirmed, Carroll said.
Chester County detectives said the U.S. State Department had reported that Komlo's body was identified by a friend. They said they were seeking fingerprints or dental records to make a positive identification.
Calls to the State Department were not returned.
Jennifer Komlo, who lives on the Main Line, said yesterday that she had received a phone call Sunday from a representative of the U.S. Embassy in Greece, informing her that her former husband had died.
On Monday, she said, she got a second call telling her that a death certificate would not be issued until the identity had been confirmed. She declined further comment.
According to court records, the couple, who were college sweethearts, married in 1980. Jennifer Komlo filed for divorce in June 2000, beginning an eight-year process that saw her husband held in contempt for ignoring court orders.
Jeff Komlo, who played in the early '80s for the Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, had been sought by authorities after he failed to appear for sentencing on two drunken-driving convictions in Chester County.
A former University of Delaware All-American, Komlo also was a no-show for a preliminary hearing in Uwchlan District Court on assault charges. In addition, police in two states wanted to talk to him about suspicious fires.
In 2004, a waterfront home the College Park, Md., native owned in West Palm Beach, Fla., burned to the ground; a warrant was issued for Komlo on arson charges last April, court records said. In 2005, police reported a set fire had occurred at Komlo's residence in Chester Springs; no charges have been filed in connection with that blaze.
Thomas K. Schindler, a West Chester attorney who represented Komlo in the Chester County criminal cases, said he had heard nothing from his former client since he skipped town, leaving behind four daughters.
Neither Komlo's parents, William and Jackie Komlo, nor his younger brother, Drew, could be reached for comment.
Lemoine, counsel for Komlo on cocaine-possession charges in Florida, where the former NFL player had maintained a second home for several years, said he hadn't heard from Komlo in years and called his death a tragedy.
"Jeff was a great guy; he just associated with the wrong people at times," Lemoine said.
One of Komlo's former business associates, Peter D. Bistrian, is serving his second federal prison sentence for fraud. He and Komlo were football teammates at the University of Delaware.
In March 2006, Lloyd's of London sued Bistrian, Komlo, and several associates, alleging that Komlo, a fugitive, was in possession of part of $1.4 million that was stolen by Bistrian, according to court records.
In February 2007, Komlo, through his attorney, Louis J. Petriello, agreed to pay $70,000 "without admitting any of the allegations." Bistrian still owes $604,847, court records said. Petriello could not be reached.
In August 2005, Komlo, speaking to a reporter by phone after failing to show up for his Chester County sentencing, contemplated surrendering. He said his inclusion on the Web site for America's Most Wanted, a TV show that profiles notorious fugitives, proved the heavy-handed approach authorities used against him.
Komlo, whose area employment included working as an insurance broker in Wayne and operating a car-leasing business in Ardmore, said he believed his legal woes resulted from a vendetta, perhaps by a business associate.
"I'm not a criminal, and I would like to get this resolved; I'm not above any law," he said.
He never came back.