Treva Throneberry

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Treva Joyce Throneberry
Treva Throneberry as Eleventh Grader Brianna Stewart.jpg
Treva Throneberry as Eleventh Grader Brianna Stewart posing for a yearbook photo
Born Treva Throneberry
May 18, 1969[1]
Wichita Falls, Texas[1]
Residence Tumwater, Washington
Nationality American
Other names Brianna Stewart in Oregon, Washington State and Daphne, Alabama,
Stephanie Danielle Lewis in Altoona, Pennsylvania,
Emily Kara Williams in Texas,[1]
Keili T. Throneberry Smitt in Corvallis, Oregon,[2]
Cara Leanna Davis in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho,[2]
Keili Smitt,
Stephanie Williams in Pennsylvania,[3]
Emily Kara Williams in North Carolina,[3]
Cara Williams in Texas,[3]
Cara Lewis in Idaho[3]
Criminal charge
first-degree theft (defrauding the state Department of Social and Health Sciences of $3,620.27 that was paid for her foster care),
second-degree theft (defrauding Clark College (Washington), $1,050 in tuition was waived after she claimed to be a homeless teen),
perjury (illegally obtained a Washington State identity card under the false name Brianna Stewart)[1]
Criminal penalty
sentenced to three years in prison[4]
Criminal status In June 2003, after serving two years and 3 months of her sentence, she was released from a Gig Harbor, Washington correctional institution[4][3]

Treva J. Throneberry (born May 18, 1969, in Wichita Falls, Texas) is a convicted American con artist who spent most of her twenties pretending to be a teenager. She made numerous false claims of sexual abuse, including that she was a victim of satanic ritual abuse to gain money.[5] During this time she traveled the United States, residing in foster homes, colleges and with any family that would take her in,[6] using false identities. Her father, Carl Throneberry, said: "She's just going cross-country and using different names and receiving welfare."[1]

As of 2003, she falsely claims to be a woman named Brianna Stewart who was born in 1981.

Arrested in 2001 and charged with fraud and perjury, her true identity was established by DNA testing. Court-appointed psychologists deemed Throneberry to not be delusional, and that she knew what she was doing.[7] She was convicted and was given a three-year sentence at a correctional center in Gig Harbor, Washington. Throneberry was released after serving two years and three months of her sentence.[4][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Treva Joyce Throneberry was born on May 18, 1969 in Wichita Falls, Texas to Carl and Patsy Throneberry.[8] Her father had dropped out of school in the sixth grade and, as an adult, "didn't know how to spell."[9] Her family later moved to Electra, Texas. Throneberry moved from Electra to Wichita Falls, Texas in December 1985 when she was fifteen years old, and enrolled in the local high school.[citation needed] She began to tell stories about how she had been abducted and raped by Satanists.

In May 1986, Throneberry threatened to kill herself and was sent to a local mental hospital, Wichita Falls State Hospital, for five months.[10] While there, doctors said her condition was a characterological disorder and she was given Trilafon, Tofranil and Xanax.[11] She refused to speak with her family when they visited. When she was discharged October 1986, she was transferred to Lena Pope Home for Troubled Girls, a residential treatment center in Fort Worth, Texas. While at Lena Pope, her therapist set a goal for her: to develop and maintain interpersonal relationships.[12] She kept a distance from her family, only sending a letter now and then.

Throneberry graduated from Arlington Heights High School in Fort Worth, Texas in 1987 and moved to Arlington, Texas. In Arlington, she rented her own apartment and worked as a hotel maid.[13][5] In 1987, she quit her job and moved around the United States living off of other people and the state.

Crimes[edit]

For most of the 1990s, Throneberry wandered around the country using various names and identities. She said she was a teenager with an abusive background, lived in homeless shelters and foster homes and enrolled in local high schools. She said that her Satanist father had raped her and killed her mother and also accused her foster parents, and other families that had taken her in, of sexual abuse for which police could not find any evidence. All cases were dismissed.

In 1993, Throneberry was living in Corvallis, Oregon and passing herself off as a teenager named "Keili T. Throneberry Smitt" and "Keili Smitt." She was staying with a family she had met at a church. Throneberry went to court in Benton County, Oregon to legally change her name to Keili Smitt. Throneberry falsely reported to Corvallis police officers she had been raped by her father, who she at that point falsely claimed was a police officer, in Oregon.[2]

In 1993, Throneberry falsely claimed that she had been sexually abused by a Portland, Oregon police officer, and she also falsely claimed that the police officer was her father. Thorneberry was charged with filing the false police report in Oregon.[5]

In 1996, Throneberry was in Altoona, Pennsylvania.[14][15] She said that her name was "Stephanie Danielle Lewis" and that she was sixteen and was fleeing her Satanist parents with the help of the religious underground. After eighteen days of investigation, police contacted a girl she had known in Texas and found out who she really was. She was arrested, charged with giving false information and sentenced to nine days in jail. After her release she disappeared again and continued her wandering.

In 1997, when she was acting as 17-year old "Brianna Stewart" in Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington, she falsely accused a 47-year old security guard named Charles Blankenship of rape. She was actually 28 at the time. He was convicted in Clark County, Washington of "having sex with a minor" and sentenced to 50 days in jail. After her fraud was exposed, a judge expunged Blankenship's conviction.[16][14]

For five years, between the ages of 27 and 31, in 1998, she lived in Vancouver, Washington, as sixteen-year-old Brianna Stewart, attended Evergreen High School, and lived in various stranger's homes.[6] She had a 2.83 grade-point average and got a D grade in drama class.[14][17][18] She had a boyfriend for a year and a half, Kenny Dunn, and told him about her alleged abuse. First she claimed that she originated from Mobile, Alabama. Sympathetic benefactors gave her money and shelter but she eventually betrayed their trust by making false claims of abuse. In hindsight, many of the foster homes said they began to suspect that she was not a teenager. One dentist noticed that Stewart no longer had wisdom teeth and that the scars from their extraction were healed, unusual in a teenager.

Throneberry, as "Brianna Stewart" graduated from Evergreen High School with the class of 2000 and enrolled at Clark College.[15] She said that she planned to become a lawyer and children's advocate.[citation needed]

In January 2001, she tried to get an official birth certificate, purportedly so she could obtain a Social Security number. When her fingerprints were checked, her original identity was revealed, leading to her arrest in Vancouver, Washington.

Arrest and criminal case[edit]

Treva in court
Treva Throneberry speaking at her trial.

On March 22, 2001, Throneberry was arrested for theft, fraud, and perjury for trying to obtain legal documents with false identity. She had defrauded the state for foster care and college tuition worth $4,670. She could not raise bail of $20,000. Other charges around the country also increased the load.

Throneberry continued to insist that she was Brianna Stewart and refused to acknowledge her parents. Authorities proved her original identity with fingerprints and DNA testing. Psychologists and lawyers began to study her, trying to find out if she was a con artist or delusional.

Her trial started in November 2001 in Vancouver, Washington. State prosecutors charged that Throneberry was a con artist who had intentionally taken advantage of the social security system for personal gain. Throneberry fired her court-appointed lawyer and represented herself in court. She was found guilty and received three years and two months for fraud and perjury and was sent to the Washington Correction Center for Women in Gig Harbor, Washington.

In popular culture[edit]

Her story has been used as the possible inspiration for the 2nd episode of the 13th season of Law & Order, called "Shangri-La," and the 21st episode of the 8th season of Law & Order: SVU, "Pretend."

Aftermath[edit]

Throneberry was released on June 18, 2003, after two years. As of 2003, she continued to maintain that she is Brianna Stewart and tried to appeal her fraud conviction.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e The Associated Press (2001-04-09). "This troubled teen is 31 years old". seattlepi.com. Retrieved 2013-12-26. 
  2. ^ a b c Hollandsworth, Skip (2002-03-01). "The Day Treva Throneberry Disappeared: Page 6 of 10". Texas Monthly. Retrieved 2013-12-26. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Page 2 of 3 (2004-07-08). "Page 2: 'Imposter Teen' Talks to 'Primetime' - ABC News". Abcnews.go.com. Retrieved 2013-12-26. 
  4. ^ a b c "The Girl From Electra". Wweek.com. 2004-11-10. Retrieved 2013-12-26. 
  5. ^ a b c "Woman portrayed self as abused teen since 1985 - Houston Chronicle". Chron.com. 2001-11-11. Retrieved 2013-12-26. 
  6. ^ a b Theriault, Denis C. "Treva or Brianna | City". Portland Mercury. Retrieved 2013-12-26. 
  7. ^ White, Emily (2002-03-10). "Forever Young". The New York Times. 
  8. ^ White, Emily (2002-03-10). "Forever Young". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ http://www.texasmonthly.com/story/day-treva-throneberry-disappeared/page/0/7
  10. ^ http://www.texasmonthly.com/story/day-treva-throneberry-disappeared/page/0/1
  11. ^ http://www.texasmonthly.com/story/day-treva-throneberry-disappeared/page/0/1
  12. ^ http://www.texasmonthly.com/story/day-treva-throneberry-disappeared/page/0/1
  13. ^ White, Emily (2002-03-10). "Forever Young". The New York Times. 
  14. ^ a b c "Strange cases of 'teen' impostor". Old.post-gazette.com. 2001-04-22. Retrieved 2013-12-26. 
  15. ^ a b "East Briefs: 11/21/01". Old.post-gazette.com. 2001-11-21. Retrieved 2013-12-26. 
  16. ^ "The Hoax Project, Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland, College Park". Jclass.umd.edu. Retrieved 2013-12-26. 
  17. ^ Hollandsworth, Skip (2002-03-01). "The Day Treva Throneberry Disappeared: Page 8 of 10". Texas Monthly. Retrieved 2013-12-26. 
  18. ^ "Woman convicted of posing as teen". Deseret News. 2001-11-21. Retrieved 2013-12-26. 

See also[edit]