A wife with no name
Who was this woman, and what was she hiding? Jon’s other half wasn’t who she claimed
Authorities ran her image through every facial-recognition database. They sent her fingerprints to the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.
No-one could tell Jon Blakely Ruff his wife’s real name. But, whoever he’d married, she wasn’t who she’d said she was…
Jon had met Lori Erica Kennedy through church in Dallas, Texas.
She was tall and attractive – as was he.
Lori told Jon she was from Arizona, but was now alone in the world. An only child, both her parents were dead. And she told Jon she didn’t like to talk about the past.
They quickly fell in love – and, less than a year later, in January 2004, they married. It was a quiet ceremony – just Jon, Lori and the priest.
Jon’s family were worried. They wanted to know about Lori’s past – where she’d gone to school, what her childhood had been like. But, every time they asked, she’d snap, ‘It’s none of your business!’
Her parents had died – that was all she’d say. And she’d destroyed all photos of them, and those of her as a kid.
Life was about looking forward, not dwelling on the past, she insisted.
But Jon’s parents weren’t convinced. Just who was Lori Erica Kennedy?
Four years on, in 2008, Lori and Jon had a baby girl, and Lori’s behaviour became
stranger. She wouldn’t let anyone near her daughter – not even Jon. And, when marriage guidance failed, Jon filed for divorce and moved out.
Tragically, two years later, on Christmas Eve 2010, Lori, 24, was found dead in her car, outside Jon’s parents’ home.
She’d killed herself with a single gunshot to the head.
Maybe Lori couldn’t live with her secrets any more. Because, soon after her funeral, Jon discovered the woman he’d married wasn’t Lori Erica Kennedy at all.
Sorting through her things, he’d found an ID card issued in Idaho. Underneath a picture of his wife was the name Becky Sue Turner.
He also found from her birth certificate that she’d been born in California, not Arizona. Authorities tried to establish who she really was...
Becky Sue Turner had, in fact, died in a house fire aged just 2. So Lori had stolen the dead child’s identity.
Records showed that, in 1988, a woman had requested Becky’s birth certificate, then used it to get an Idaho ID card. A month later, pretending to be Becky, she’d changed her name to Lori Erica Kennedy.
There was no record of her fingerprints or features in USA databases. Whoever she was, she’d lived life on the run.
After she’d become Lori Kennedy, the woman had enrolled at the University of Texas at Arlington, and graduated with a degree in Business Administration.
Ten years previously, the university had been used as the set for Hollywood film Positive ID, about a woman who changes identity and disappears after being the victim of a crime. Coincidence?
Had Lori seen the film, been inspired to turn it into reality? ‘She created a false identity for the sole purpose of getting lost in America,’ Social Security Investigator Joseph Velling said, when assigned the case in 2010.
‘By cleverly changing her name, she created a person who had no past.’
Then, in 2013, Velling created a family tree using Jon’s daughter’s DNA.
He discovered a woman called Deanne, who’d married a James Mclean. Their daughter was Lori Ruff – born Kimberly Mclean.
Another DNA test confirmed it, and the mystery began to unravel…
Kimberly had grown up in Philadelphia with her sister. But, when Kimberly was 18, her parents had divorced.
Deanne remarried, and the girls moved with her to Wyncote, Pennsylvania.
It seems Kimberly didn’t like her stepdad, and had opted to reinvent her life without him in it – which she did, for more than two decades, without discovery. Puzzle solved. Case closed. But, sadly, the life of the woman called Lori Ruff was over.
She cleverly created a person who had no past