Last November, Tim Hart received an email from his childhood friend Jack Froese. This wouldn't be news if Froese hadn't died earlier that June.
I was sitting on my couch and going through emails on my phone and it popped up, sender 'Jack Froese,' and I turned ghost white, Hart told the BBC. I read it and it was very quick and short but to a point that only Jack and I could relate on.
Hart said that Froese, who died at the age of 32 from a heart arrhythmia, used to privately tease him about his messy attic. When Hart opened his email in November, he saw a new message from Froese that read, Did you hear me? I'm at your house. Clean your f--king attic!!! Even creepier, the subject line simply said, I'm watching.
Hart reportedly sent a reply to Froese's old account, but has not yet received a response.
Froese's cousin Jimmy McGraw also received a posthumous email from the account. McGraw was similarly surprised not just by the email, but by the privileged and private information included in it. In the email, McGraw was warned about an ankle injury he suffered after Froese had already passed.
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I'd like to say Jack sent it, just because I look at it as he's gone, but he's still trying to connect with me, McGraw said. Trying to tell me to move along, to feel better.
Froese's mother, Patty, isn't looking into the mysteriousness of the emails like Hart and McGraw. Instead, she told Froese's friends to simply accept the emails as a gift.
I saw they made people happy, they upset some people, Patty said. But I see it as people were still talking about him.
For the time being, the true source of the emails remains a mystery. But Hart says he doesn't mind, even if he found out that the emails were just a prank from somebody who hacked into Froese's old email account.
If somebody's joking around, I don't care because I take it whatever way I want, Hart said.
However, there is still some hope that Froese was actually the author of those emails. The Internet provides several different ways and services for users who want to intentionally send emails after they're dead. One site, called Dead Man's Switch, lets users write email drafts that are sent to any preselected recipients after your death.
The emails are sent at certain intervals, the site says. By default, the switch will email you 30, 45, and 52 days after you last showed signs of life. If you don't respond to any of those emails, all your messages will be sent 60 days after your last check-in.
There's no knowing if Froese used a service like Dead Man's Switch before he passed, but it's unlikely given that his death was rather unexpected. Even if users don't want to prearrange unsettling emails to scare their friends after their death, anyone can still learn how to manage and secure their social media accounts for after they die.