These 9 True Stories Of People Mistakenly Believed To Be Dead Are Scarier Than Any Horror Movie

Published October 14, 2022

Delimar Vera: The Girl Who Was Thought Dead After A Fire, But Was Actually Kidnapped

Luz Cuevas And Delimar Vera

David Livingston/Getty ImagesDelimar Vera and her mother Luz Cuevas at the premiere of Lifetime’s Little Girl Lost: The Delimar Vera Story.

On December 15, 1997, a fire destroyed a home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that belonged to a woman named Luz Cuevas. Her two eldest children made it out of the home alive, but when Cuevas burst into the room of her infant daughter, Delimar Vera, the child was nowhere to be found.

Eventually, the smoke and heat overcame her, and Cuevas was forced to flee. Officials never found Delimar Vera’s remains, ultimately determining that her body had been completely incinerated in the fire, CNN reported.

Officially, the fire had been caused by an overheated extension cord attached to a space heater. At least, that was the official story until 2004.

In January of that year, Luz Cuevas was at a birthday party for an acquaintance’s child when she noticed a young girl who looked remarkably like herself and her children. Telling the girl she had gum in her hair, Cuevas plucked a few strands from the girl’s head with the intention of going to the police and getting a DNA test to see if she could be her “dead” child.

When the results came back, they confirmed Cuevas’ suspicion: the six-year-old at the party was indeed her daughter, Delimar Vera. That’s when the truth about what happened the night of the fire came to light.

Just one day before the fire, Luz Cuevas had met Carolyn Correa, a distant friend of a cousin of Delimar Vera’s father, from whom Cuevas had separated. On December 15, 1997, Correa returned to Cuevas’ home, claiming that she left her purse upstairs. Shortly after Correa left, the fire started.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Correa had given birth to her own child shortly before the fire, but the baby was reportedly stillborn.

Some believe that this loss triggered a break in Correa’s brain, causing her to believe in the delusion that Delimar was her own child.

After Correa took Delimar from the house, she raised her for six years, calling her Aaliyah. She had three other children who thought “Aaliyah” was their sibling, and a boyfriend who believed “Aaliyah” was his own daughter.

One friend of Correa’s reported that after she learned the results of the DNA test, she broke down and said, “Where’s my baby, Mary Lou? I thought for six years Aaliyah was my baby. If Aaliyah’s not my baby, who has mine?”

Correa was ultimately sentenced to 30 years in prison, and Delimar was finally reunited with Cuevas, the mother she never knew was hers.


After reading about people who were wrongly presumed dead, check out the terrifying stories of people who were buried alive. Then, take a look at some of the worst deaths that human beings have ever experienced.

author
Austin Harvey
author
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Austin Harvey has also had work published with Discover Magazine, Giddy, and Lucid covering topics on mental health, sexual health, history, and sociology. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Point Park University.
editor
Jaclyn Anglis
editor
Jaclyn is the senior managing editor at All That's Interesting. She holds a Master's degree in journalism from the City University of New York and a Bachelor's degree in English writing and history (double major) from DePauw University. She is interested in American history, true crime, modern history, pop culture, and science.