I admit I was a little worried about at least some of the details of the McKinney story I reported on the other day. The London Times is a reputable source, and most of the story, of course, like the idea that someone would stalk a Mormon missionary across the ocean, get a friend to help kidnap him, and then sexually assault him before fleeing the country and going into hiding, was completely plausible. But the details can be garbled in any story, especially one that spans decades and is this weird.
So I was happy to see a more extensive report on the case today from the Associated Press. It provides more details, for example, on the question whether this is just a case of mistaken identity. As we saw last time, it is fair to say there is a resemblance between the pictures that emerged this week of "Bernann McKinney" with her five cloned dogs, and the 1970s pictures of accused-Mormon-raper "Joyce McKinney." That was enough to convince filmmaker Trent Harris, who has made a documentary about the case. "I said 'Oh my God, that's Joyce," Harris was quoted as saying.
The AP found that records associated with the two names show other connections, such as the same birthdate and Social Security number, the same hometown (Newland, N.C.), and the amazing coincidence that Joyce McKinney's middle name is "Bernann." The court clerk in Newland, where McKinney apparently ended up after fleeing England, said she "instantly recognized" the cloned-puppy-snuggler as "Joyce Bernann McKinney," and said she should know because the woman had been a defendant in that court so often. "She is a person of note in our little community," the clerk said. Locals said McKinney had left Newland about two years ago and no one had seen or heard from her since.
Until this week, that is, when she became a worldwide celebrity after she showed up on TV in South Korea surrounded by five cloned pit bull puppies. So much for laying low.
The AP has at least one detail wrong, though. It reported that McKinney had once been Miss Wyoming USA, which is not quite true -- according to the Casper Star-Tribune, she was Miss Wyoming 1972 but it was the "Miss World" pageant, not Miss USA. Not that it matters -- I just wanted to be able to say I had once corrected the Associated Press on anything at all. But the fact that the fugitive had once been a beauty queen was yet another odd detail in this already-bizarre story.
As of today (August 9), Bernann McKinney was still adamantly denying any connection to the alleged kidnapper, and told the AP she would sue anyone who suggested otherwise. "I'm filing a $10 million libel action and I don't think you want AP to be part of that," she told a reporter, who seems to have filed the story anyway. I would hate to be thrown into that briar patch, too, but at least I would be able to say I had all the details right.
Link: AP via Yahoo! News