Manacled Mormon case

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Manacled Mormon case
1984 mugshot taken of perpetrator Joyce McKinney when subsequently arrested in 1984 in Salt Lake City, Utah, on charges she again was stalking her 1977 victim, Anderson
DurationSeptember 14–17, 1977 (1977-09-14 – 1977-09-17)[1]
MotiveMcKinney's self-professed lovesickness or "all-consuming passion".[2]
OutcomeAnderson says he escaped by feigning to alleged captors that he would inform church authorities of his soon elopement with McKinney.
Arrest(s)McKinney and alleged accomplice Keith May
ConvictionsMcKinney, in absentia, for indecent assault
SentenceOne year's imprisonment
In April 1978, McKinney and May absconded on false passports. McKinney remains a fugitive from justice in the UK.[3] May died in 2004.[4]

The Manacled Mormon case,[5] also known as the Mormon sex in chains case, was a widely reported scandal involving a sexual assault by an American woman, Joyce McKinney, on a young American Mormon missionary, Kirk Anderson, in England in 1977. According to Anderson, he had been abducted by McKinney from the steps of a church meetinghouse, chained to a bed and raped by her. Before the case could be tried, McKinney jumped bail and fled to the United States.


A young Mormon missionary, Kirk Anderson, went missing on 14 September 1977, in Ewell, Surrey, after he was allegedly abducted from the steps of a meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints[6] by Keith May, 24, who had posed as an investigator into Mormonism, using a fake handgun and chloroform. Three days later a freed Anderson made a report to the police that he had been abducted, driven to Devon, and imprisoned against his will, chained to a bed in a cottage, where Joyce Bernann McKinney (a former 1973 Miss Wyoming World; born 1949 as Joy McKinney[7][8][9][10][11]) had attempted to seduce and then raped him.

Police set up a sting operation by having Anderson set up a September 21 rendezvous with McKinney and May and the two suspects were arrested. The case became known by sobriquets including "Madam Mayhem and the Manacled Mormon case" and "The Kidnap Mormon Sex-in-chains Case".[citation needed]

Judicial proceedings[edit]

On 19 September 1977 McKinney and her alleged co-conspirator Keith May were arrested and charged with kidnapping and assault. They vigorously denied the charges. While being taken to Epsom for a court appearance, she held a notice up at the window of the police vehicle saying, "Kirk left with me willingly!"[12] Press reports and McKinney's lawyer refer to the size differential between McKinney, described as slightly built, and Anderson, described as substantially larger.[13][14]

Along with May, McKinney jumped bail and fled the country.[15] On 18 July 1979, they were both arrested in the United States by the FBI on charges of making false statements in order to obtain passports.[16] They both received suspended sentences.[17]

No extradition proceedings were instituted by Britain, and the English court sentenced McKinney in absentia to a year in jail.[18] Under the Sexual Offences Act 1956 then in force in the United Kingdom, due to the victim's gender, there was no crime of rape committed, though indecent assault of a man applied.[19]

Coverage in the media[edit]

The coverage in British newspapers in the final months of 1977 was extensive and highly prominent.[6] Some newspapers sought to obtain "scoops" on the story, and to undermine each other as they managed to obtain and publish exclusive information. For example, the Daily Mirror researched McKinney's past and reported over several days that she had been a nude model. The Daily Mail attempted to devalue the Mirror's reports by advertising itself as "The paper without Joyce McKinney".[20]

Brian Whitaker observes that the case provided "light relief" for the newspaper-reading public, from more serious stories about politicians.[20] Roger Wilkes states that the coverage of the case "cheered Britain up no end".[21]

A Church of Scotland working party on obscenity in 1979 observed the "gusto" with which newspapers covered and followed the case, noting the accompaniment of the coverage by "the kind of illustration which a decade ago would have been under plain sealed cover".[22]

The coverage was extensive in part because the case was considered so anomalous, involving as it did the issue of rape of a man by a woman. Backhouse and Cohen reported in 1978 that many men, privately, expressed their disbelief of such a possibility.[23]

The case was documented in Joyce McKinney and the Manacled Mormon,[24] a book by Anthony Delano in 1978, who based his work on assembled Daily Mirror coverage.[25] British band Radio Stars also detailed the story in the tune "Sex in Chains Blues" on their Holiday Album release on Chiswick Records (1979).

Later developments[edit]

In 1984 McKinney was again the subject of police action for allegedly stalking Anderson at his workplace, though he was now married with children.[18][26]

In 2008, a story about a woman named "Bernann McKinney" appeared in the media after the woman had her pet dog cloned in South Korea. Journalists tied the two incidents together in articles identifying facial similarity between "Bernann McKinney" and Joyce Bernann McKinney.[15] After initial denials[8][13][27] the International Herald Tribune and other publications carried an admission by McKinney that she was the person named in the 1977 case.[14]

The revival of interest in the story led the documentary filmmaker Errol Morris to produce a 2010 film, Tabloid, based on the media sensation surrounding the story.[28] The film gives extra details, from press reports of the day and from participants in the story, to the use of a (possibly fake) gun during Anderson's abduction, and Anderson being tied up during his alleged rape by McKinney.[29] The film also gave further details regarding McKinney's work as a call girl, earning funds for her team's international adventure by offering bondage and S&M services around the time she became obsessed with Anderson.

Anderson is now a real estate agent,[where?] and shies away from publicity. McKinney is reported to now use a wheelchair for mobility, and lives in Newland, in the western North Carolina mountains.[13][26] Keith May, her co-conspirator, died in 2004.[30]

In January 2016, McKinney filed suit against Morris, claiming that she had been misrepresented in the film and that Morris and others related to the documentary's production had broken into her home, stolen personal items related to the case, and threatened the life of her service dog if McKinney did not sign release papers allowing them to use her footage for the film. Legal representatives for Morris stated that "evidence will show that [McKinney] willingly – in fact, eagerly – participated in the lengthy interview that is featured in the film."[31] Morris stated in an interview later that year that the charges had been dismissed as "frivolous".[32]


  1. ^ "Joyce McKinney and the battle of the tabloids". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  2. ^ Sheridan, Peter (16 January 2016). "Return of Joyce, the kidnap beauty queen".
  3. ^ Brunton, Michael (2008-08-11). "Cloner Dogged by Sex Scandal". Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  4. ^ Leonard, Tom (2011-08-12). "Joyce McKinney: 'Madam Mayhem' still loves Mormon missionary she kidnapped". Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  5. ^ Greenslade, Roy (17 October 2013). "Judge finds for filmmaker in 'manacled Mormon' case". the Guardian.
  6. ^ a b Fernandes 1999, pp. 489
  7. ^ Dobner, Jennifer (2008-08-10). "Cloned-dog owner is '70s fugitive". The Associated Press. Retrieved 2014-03-17.
  8. ^ a b Bone & Kennedy 2008
  9. ^ "Corrections". St. Petersburg Times. 2008-08-13. pp. A.1.
  10. ^ "Setting it straight". The Sacramento Bee. 2008-08-13. pp. A2.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-10-21. Retrieved 2014-12-19.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ Barret, Frank. "Joyce McKinney". Jamd. Retrieved 2009-02-22.
  13. ^ a b c Gordon 2008
  14. ^ a b AP 2008
  15. ^ a b Batty 2008
  16. ^ "Beauty queen back in FBI's custody". St. Petersburg Times. Associated Press. 1979-07-20. p. 4.
  17. ^ Brunton 2008
  18. ^ a b O'Neill 2008
  19. ^ "Sexual Offences Act 1956 (c.69), section Intercourse by force, intimidation, etc". Office of Public Sector Information. Retrieved 2009-02-24.
  20. ^ a b Whitaker 1981, pp. 39, 55
  21. ^ Wilkes 2002, pp. 286
  22. ^ CoSWP 1979, pp. 29
  23. ^ Backhouse & Cohen 1978, pp. 163
  24. ^ Fillion 1996, pp. 331
  25. ^ Woestendiek 2010
  26. ^ a b Dobner 2008
  27. ^ Peterkin 2008
  28. ^ "Scandal and Subjective Reality in Errol Morris's Tabloid".
  29. ^ "Why they're calling this snobby Titanic show 'Drownton Abbey'". Irish Independent. 2012-03-31. Retrieved 2015-01-17.
  30. ^ Leonard, Tom (2011-08-12). "I still love my manacled Mormon: 'Madam Mayhem' Joyce McKinney who kidnapped missionary with mink-lined handcuffs is still defiant as film is made of her life". Daily Mail. London, UK.
  31. ^ Gardner, Eriq (2016-01-15). "Errol Morris Heads to Trial Against Irate Plaintiff at Center of 2011 Documentary 'Tabloid'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2016-11-20.
  32. ^ Brown, Phil (2016-10-14). "Errol Morris on The B-Side and His Donald Trump Short". Collider. Retrieved 2018-02-16.

Reference bibliography[edit]