A wife with no name

Who was this woman, and what was she hid­ing? Jon’s other half wasn’t who she claimed

Pick Me Up! - - CONTENTS -

Au­thor­i­ties ran her im­age through ev­ery fa­cial-recog­ni­tion data­base. They sent her fin­ger­prints to the FBI and De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity.

No match.

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.

Sus­pi­cions

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.

ID card

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.

DNA test

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

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