14/08/2014 12:54 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

'I'm Not Dead,' Says Missing Dad. 'Oh Yes You Are!' Says Judge

Sarasota National Cemetery, Sarasota, Florida

A dad who turned up alive after going missing for more than 20 years has been told he will remain 'legally dead'.

Donald Eugene Miller Jr, now 61, disappeared from a town in Ohio in 1986.

His wife assumed he must have died and so, in 1994, applied to a court to declare him legally dead so that benefits could be paid to their two children.

But Mr Miller returned to the Ohio area in 2005 and was informed by his parents of his 'death'.

On Monday he asked a court to reverse the decision, saying he had been an alcoholic at the time and was unsure what to do after losing his job.

Mr Miller had said he would like to start his life again, or 'whatever's left of it'. But a judge rejected the application because there is a three-year limit on appealing a death ruling.

Judge Davis admitted the case was a 'strange, strange situation'.

"We've got the obvious here. A man sitting in the courtroom, he appears to be in good health," she said. "I don't know where that leaves you, but you're still deceased as far as the law is concerned."

Mr Miller is still able to challenge the ruling in a federal court, but his lawyer Francis Marley said he does not have the resources to do so.