Hawaii couple charged with stealing IDs of dead children in Texas

HONOLULU– A US defense contractor and his wife who lived for decades as two deceased Texan children have been charged with impersonation and conspiring against the government, according to unsealed federal court filings in Honolulu .

Walter Glenn Primrose and Gwynn Darle Morrison, both in their 60s, who are believed to have lived for decades as Bobby Edward Fort and Julie Lyn Montague, respectively, were arrested in Kapolei on the island of Oahu on Friday.

Prosecutors are seeking to hold the couple without bail, which could indicate the case is about more than fraudulently obtaining driver’s licenses, passports and Department of Defense credentials. These documents helped Primrose obtain covert security clearance with the United States Coast Guard and as a defense contractor.

Old photos show the couple wearing uniforms from the KGB, Russia’s former spy agency, Assistant US Attorney Thomas Muehleck said. Faded Polaroids of everyone in uniform were included in the motion to hold them up.

A “close associate” of Morrison said she lived in Romania despite it being a Soviet bloc country, Muehleck said.

Prosecutors said there was a high risk the couple would flee if released. They also suggested that Primrose, who was an avionics electrical technician in the Coast Guard, was highly qualified to communicate covertly if released.

The couple are also believed to have other aliases, Muehleck said.

The couple’s lawyers declined to comment. A bail hearing is scheduled for Thursday in U.S. District Court.

The secret clearance Primrose had provides access to information “extremely valuable to our enemies,” said Kevin O’Grady, a Honolulu defense attorney not involved in the case.

The Coast Guard works closely with the Army and Navy, assists in counterintelligence and serves as the nation’s maritime border patrol, said O’Grady, an Army reservist and Lt. Col. Judge Advocate.

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

For at least 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 stunned to learn that someone had been living under his name for so long.

“I still can’t believe it happened,” Montague, 91, told The Associated Press. “There’s a one in a trillion chance they’ll find her and use her name. People are stooping for anything these days. Let the kids rest in peace.”

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

Nothing in the court documents indicates why the couple in 1987 assumed the identities of deceased children who would have been more than a decade younger than them. But an affidavit filed by Special Agent Dennis Thomas of the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service noted that the couple lost their home in Nacogdoches, Texas to a foreclosure that year.

Court records provide no information about what happened from the time they took on their new identities until 1994, when Primrose, then about 39, enlisted in the Coast Guard as a than Fort, who would have been around 27 years old.

If there was an obvious age difference between what Primrose looked like and the birth certificate he presented, “it’s a miserable failure,” O’Grady said.

“It’s something if they can figure it out now, they should have caught it then,” he said.

Montague said “somebody’s not doing their job”.

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

“While holding this secret clearance with the US Coast Guard, defendant Primrose was required to report any foreign travel,” prosecutors wrote. “The investigation revealed that the defendant Primrose failed to report multiple trips to Canada while he did report other trips abroad.”

The couple are charged with aggravated impersonation, conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and misrepresentation in a passport application.


Melley reported from Los Angeles.

ABC News

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