When a man named Eduardo served a margarita to an "Asian-looking" man on a remote beach in the small surfer town of Sayulita, he had no idea the man he was serving was dead.

At least, officially.

For years, Patrick McDermott, the man most famous as Olivia Newton-John's on-again, off-again boyfriend, is said to have been hiding out in the rural beach village on Mexico's Pacific coast, 12 years after he is purported to have drowned after disappearing at sea in 2005, according to news.com.au.

Newton-John had been dating McDermott for nine years when he disappeared during a fishing trip in San Pedro, California on 30 June, 2005.

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He was last seen on the fishing boat, Freedom, but not one of the 22 passengers saw him go overboard.

His wallet and personal effects were found on board, but there was no body.

Red flags waved when McDermott's outstanding financial problems were investigated - including owing child support fees and a bankruptcy in 2000 where he owed $31,000 to creditors - and rumours began to circulate McDermott had staged his death to cash in on a $100,000 lifetime insurance policy.

But then reports began to surface citing a bigger mystery than previously pondered. For over a decade, speculation has been rife as to the real story of McDermott's "death" - and to this day, authorities have not yet ruled, or investigated the case thoroughly.

In 2006, Fairfax Media reported witness sightings of McDermott on Mexico's Baja Peninsula.

Despite this, in 2008, authorities declared him officially dead.

Then, in April, 2010, a group of private investigators say they found McDermott in Mexico after NBC's Dateline set up a website, findpatrickmcdermott.com, where people could send tips and sightings surrounding McDermott's whereabouts.

"Freedom", the boat that Patrick McDermott disappeared from.

The investigators were monitoring web traffic to the site when they noticed a cluster of centralised IP addresses all hailing from the same town outside of Sayulita. The address led them to McDermott.

The investigators claimed they had retrieved "documentation and voice imprints" from the missing man and concluded, "beyond a reasonable doubt that McDermott is alive."

In 2016, Woman's Day backed claims purporting to have found McDermott's exact whereabouts in the small state of western Mexico, Nayarit, a lush haven located between the forested mountains of the Sierra Madre Occidental and the Pacific Ocean.

In this remote area, McDermott is said to be "alive and well" with a new German girlfriend (though local reports are conflicting) and living under the name Pat Kim (his birth name).

For years, tourists and locals continue to claim sightings of the grey-haired, reclusive figure, most notably in the coastal town of San Pancho, described as a "magical" beach by Mexican Tourism due to its sheer natural beauty.

Here, McDermott is described as a "lonely, quiet man who does not draw much attention" but is known to sip on a tequila-based cocktail, like a margarita, from time to time.

"McDermott has lived here for a long time," Oswaldo Vallejo, a municipal manager of the town, told elpais.com.

"I have seen him walk many times along the beach, wearing his shorts and looking like a big surfer."

"This man comes a lot, he's older," Nacho Berumen, the village librarian, told the same publication after he was shown a photo ID of McDermott.

According to another local, Alfredo Uriber, "he is very methodical, he always went to take something to the same place".

Manuel Muro, owner of El Chile Relleno, a Mexican restaurant in Sayulita, said: "He came to eat here, I served him. I served him a stuffed chilli, the specialty. He left me only a 10 per cent tip. If I came to know that he was famous ...".

Berumen claims he sees all types of hideaways in this secret paradise, especially Baby Boomers who needed to escape the rate race for some reason or another.

"San Pancho is a good place to be a dead man. I have a friend here who has died three times because he owed the bank money. Here, they come to live in peace and harmony.

"Millionaires have been strolling along this beach, like the owner of Revlon, and none of us would have given weight to him," he recalls.

McDermott is said to have been working as a deckhand on a tourist yacht in the area, but sightings in recent months have gone relatively quiet.

"Patrick's probably now working in the yachting industry for a high-profile family down there," Klein told Woman's Day.

McDermott has reportedly not wanted to make statements and has asked investigators to stop looking for him. His ex-wife, Yvette Nipar, maintains he drowned at sea.

In 2009, private detective Philip Klein, one of the group of investigates who claimed to have found McDermott, received a letter reportedly faxed on McDermott's behalf.

"Pat has asked that I portray to you his innocence. Pat has committed no crime. Pat simply wishes to be left alone," the letter read.

"Let him live his life in peace and harmony. He is safe and has started anew again in a new place both physically and mentally. Stop this search immediately."

"His lawyer called from Mexico City and said that Patrick didn't want to be bothered. He hadn't faked anything. He just wanted to get away from the drama," Klein said.

Meanwhile, Newton-John, who had been in the middle of a promotional tour in Australia when McDermott vanished, later told 60 Minutes: "It was very hard. He was lost at sea and nobody really knows what happened. It's human to wonder but, you know, those are the things in life you have to accept and let go.

"I live on, and of course questions come up, always, that's human."

Newton-John has since remarried. In June 2008, she secretly wed second husband John Easterling, founder and president of natural remedy firm, Amazon Herb Company.