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When The Times first contacted Mr. Thornton about the investigation, he acknowledged thoughts of suicide, saying he had “no problem killing myself” if his benefits were taken away.

“Take away the last thing keeping me here, and see what happens. Next time you see me on the news, it will be me in a body bag,” he said.

In follow-up emails, he explained that Dias had just been hospitalized, and “so I was quite a mess mentally and at the time, wanted to throw in the towel and just end my life.”

Mr. Coburn also had asked investigators look into why Dias was receiving disability payments “since she is able to provide child care” to Mr. Thornton. But Mr. Thornton said before her death that she, too, was cleared of abusing Social Security payments.

He said he doesn’t spend much of his disability checks on his adult baby lifestyle, having bought many items earlier when he was working as a security guard. Some of his toys were Christmas gifts, and some of his other baby paraphernalia was bought with money he made by recycling bottles and cans.

“The only babyish items bought with SSI monies [were] wipes, powder and rash cream and that was because medical insurance only pays for the diapers for the incontinence,” he said.

He said he still uses the same penguin-themed sleeper he received as a Christmas gift in 2002 and wears it sparingly because he doesn’t have $300 to replace it. He said he still drives a Dodge Caravan with 145,000 miles on it and a front bumper held in place by a bungee cord.

Mr. Thornton said the television show paid for the materials for his highchair project and that he was in so much pain after the taping that he was bedridden for almost two weeks.

In an extensive biography on his website, he describes trauma stemming from childhood abuse, combined with other mental and physical problems that he said make it impossible to maintain employment, including the security guard position he held for 1 1/2 years.

He said his mother first applied for benefits for him when he was 16.