A Michigan cage fighter who faked his own death after he was unable to pay back an $80,000 debt to his drug dealer is now facing 40 years in prison after he was arrested for robbing a gun store with a hammer less than two weeks after his "death".

Charles Rowan, 26, "died" in February, when his girlfriend, Rosa Martinez called his friends and family — including his mother — that he had died in a car accident. According to the New York Times [in a really excellent feature on Rowan], they held a string of benefit fights called "Fight For Charlie" in his memory.

Although people were suspicious — it was a small town where everyone knew everyone — the duo almost got away with it.

But less than two weeks after the memorial (which Rowan watched, hidden), he broke his cover and met with Michael Gomez, the drug dealer he owed $80,000. Rowan told the Times that Gomez threatened Martinez and her kids.

So Rowan, Martinez, and a third friend, Michael Bowman, went out and robbed a Michigan gun store. Martinez went in first as a diversion and Rowan also kicked her to make her seem like an innocent bystander. Rowan also hit the 75-year-old store owner in the head with the hammer before stealing eight guns and fleeing to a vacant apartment. Martinez stayed behind and called 911.

When Rowan tried to call Martinez, the cop who was taking her statement answered. He asked who Rowan was. Rowan said his cousin's name, but the cop, James Cuddie, instead began investigating Rowan's death.

Eventually Rowan came clean to his mother, who turned him in. He and Martinez tried to run but got caught two days later in a motel. A local fight promotor said he was "lucky the cops got him before the fighters did."

Rowan apologized at his sentencing, and faces 17.50-40 years in prison. Martinez has 70 months to 30 years.

[image via Gladwyn County Police]