Hawaiian couple charged with stealing ID cards of dead Texas kids – ABC News

Honolulu – An American defense contractor and his wife, who have lived for decades with the identity of two dead Texas children, have been charged with identity theft and conspiracy against the government, according to federal court records disclosed in Honolulu.

Walter Glenn Primrose and Gwen Darl Morrison, both in their 60s, who allegedly lived for decades under the names Bobby Edward Fort and Julie Lynn Montague, respectively, were arrested in Kabul, Oahu.

Prosecutors are seeking to detain the couple without bail, which may indicate that the case is about more than fraudulently obtaining driver’s licenses, passports and Defense Department credentials.

Assistant US Attorney Thomas Molick said in court papers that these documents helped Primrose obtain classified security clearance from the US Coast Guard and as a defense contractor and old photos showing the couple dressed as the KGB, Russia’s former spy agency. Blurred Polaroids of each in uniform are embedded in the action for her catch.

Moelek said that “one close to him” said Morrison lived in Romania when it was a Soviet bloc country.

Morrison’s lawyer said her client had never lived in Romania and that she and Primrose tried on the same jacket as a prank and posed for pictures in it. Even if the couple used new identities, attorney Megan Cao told The Associated Press, they lived law-abiding lives for three decades.

“She wants everyone to know that she is not a spy,” Kao said. “All of this has been blown out of proportion. It is inflating the government.”

Prosecutors said there was a significant risk the couple would escape if they were released. They also noted that Primrose, who was an electrical technician in the Coast Guard’s avionics, is highly skilled to communicate secretly if he is released.

Molick said he believed the couple had other aliases.

Primrose’s lawyer declined to comment. A bail hearing was scheduled for Thursday in US District Court.

Kevin O’Grady, a Honolulu defense attorney not involved in the case, said Primrose’s confidential clearance provides access to information “of enormous value to our enemies.”

The Coast Guard works closely with the Army and Navy, assists in counterintelligence and serves as a patrol on the country’s maritime borders, said O’Grady, an Army Reserve soldier and lieutenant colonel.

“The Coast Guard has a unique perspective on our vulnerabilities,” he said, including how to infiltrate the country through water ports. Hawaii, a major military center, he said, is “a prime target for a lot of espionage and the like.”

For one family whose deceased child’s name was stolen, Wednesday’s news came as a shock.

John Montague, who lost his daughter Julie in 1968 at the age of 3 weeks, was shocked to learn that someone had been living under her name for so long.

“I still can’t believe what happened,” Montague, 91, told the Associated Press. “Odds are like one in a trillion they find it and use its name. People bow down to do anything nowadays. Let the children rest in peace.”

Both Primrose and Morrison were born in 1955 and went to high school together in Port Lavaca, Texas, then attended Stephen F. Austin University, according to court records. They married in 1980.

There is no indication in the court papers as to why the 1987 couple assumed the identities of deceased children who were more than a decade younger than them. But an affidavit provided by Special Agent Dennis Thomas of the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service indicated that the couple lost their home in Nacogdoches, Texas, to foreclosure that year.

Thomas said they married again under their pen name in 1988.

Court records provide no information about what happened from the time they assumed their new identities until 1994, when Primrose, then 39, was drafted into the Coast Guard as Fort, who would have been around 27 years old.

O’Grady said that if there was a clear age discrepancy between his primrose form and his birth certificate, “that’s a fiasco.”

“That’s something that if they could figure it out now, they should have caught it then,” he said.

“Someone’s not doing their job,” Montag said.

Both Primrose and Morrison applied for and received multiple passports under their aliases, according to court records. But in 1999, Primrose applied for a passport in his legal name and issued him a passport in the name of Fort.

Primrose was in service until 2016, when he began working with an unnamed defense contractor at the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station in Barbers Point.

Prosecutors wrote, “While he made this confidential statement with the US Coast Guard, the accused Primrose was asked to report any foreign travel. Investigations revealed that the accused Primrose did not report several trips to Canada while he reported other foreign trips.”

The couple lived in a Honolulu suburb in a modest two-bedroom bungalow under palm trees. Mei Li Chara, who lives next door, said they had a house next door that they rented to members of the military.

She knew them as Bob and Lynn, apparently with Morrison’s middle name.

She said Primrose worked in a yard for Schara’s company for $50 a month. Morrison ate, fed, spayed, and neutered cats. She also had several rabbits and set aside a room for pets.

“They kept to themselves, but they were friendly,” Chara said. “They were kind of, like, a little bit eccentric.”

Schara wasn’t sure what Primrose did for a living, but he thought it had to do with the military. Morrison once worked as a parking attendant at a Waikiki hotel, but was tutoring neighborhood children.

The FBI created a scene in the quiet neighborhood when they searched the house and took pictures.

“It was shocking, like, oh my God,” Skara said. “It was so crazy.”

The State Department declined to comment on the arrests.

The couple are charged with conspiracy to commit a crime against the United States, false statement in passport application and aggravated identity theft.

Fort, who lived less than three months, died in October 1967 in the same hospital where Julie Montague died about three months later in January 1968. They were buried 14 miles (23 kilometers) away.

When Tonda Ferguson learned from her father that Morrison had used her late sister’s birth certificate to create a pseudonym, she thought about her mother, who died in 2003, and how many years had passed.

Ferguson said, “For all the mothers who live and have to know this has happened to their children, I can’t even imagine. I am happy for my mother with the Lord. This would be so painful for her.”

Ferguson was in the eighth grade when her sister died. She was never able to see or get pregnant with her little sister. She is buried in Burnett, Texas, the small town they lived in at the time outside of Austin.

“She came from a place of love, deep love,” Ferguson said. “For someone to turn around to steal their identity for the sake of evil is hard. It hurts. … I hope you rot.”

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Millie reported from Los Angeles. Caleb Jones in Kabul, Hawaii, and Rhonda Schaffner in New York City contributed to this report.

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