cruel story: please read it



Identity deception: cruel prank exposed

August 2 2003

Ever since Donna Lynette Walker was a child, friends say, she has delighted in disrupting the lives of those around her: she made crank calls in disguised voices, concocted hard-luck stories and conned people out of money.

But even investigators familiar with Walker's record are baffled by what they say was her latest hoax.

Authorities say that last weekend, Walker called the parents of a girl abducted 17 years ago and pretended to be their long-lost daughter. The girl's family members were crushed, her father reduced to tears, when they learned yesterday that it was a lie.

Walker, 35, surrendered today in Topeka, Kansas, where she is believed to live. She has been charged with identity deception and false reporting for committing what police called a "cruel hoax".

She was to be held overnight and a court hearing for tomorrow during which bail would be set, said her lawyer, Billy Rork.

Rork said he has little information about Walker. She contacted him, telling him that she needed a lawyer. As for the case against her in Indiana, Rork said, "That allegation will be fully explained."

Rork said Walker does not want to talk yet about the case, but she remains confident the judicial system will treat her fairly. He called the case "highly emotional".

Walker's arrest may help authorities determine her motive. "We don't think it was financial," said Indiana State Police 1st Sergeant Dave Bursten. "There was never any kind of request for money."

Investigators said Walker may have found out details about the case of Shannon Marie Sherrill on the Internet, which contains several Web sites devoted to the girl's abduction. Shannon was six when she vanished in 1986 while playing hide-and-seek near the family's Indiana home.

Walker continued the ruse for days, allegedly calling Shannon's family members, police and the news media to perpetuate the story - often disguising her voice and posing as at least two other people. Investigators believe she even pretended to be the husband of the missing girl.

Police began to doubt Walker's claims only when she would not provide them with numbers to reach her.

Now, days into the investigation, police have discovered a disturbing pattern of deceit by Walker.

Court records and interviews indicate she has had brushes with the law in California, Kansas, Virginia and Nebraska involving such offences as making crank calls, reporting a false fire alarm, writing bad checks, making a bomb threat and using stolen credit cards to run up long-distance charges, according to an Indiana State Police affidavit.

In Urbandale, Iowa, an arrest warrant was issued for Walker last August for making a string of "weird calls" to police reporting to have seen people assaulted at gunpoint. Police never verified the calls, said Urbandale Police Sergeant Dave Disney.

"We had concerns for Walker's mental state, just from all the calls she was making," Disney said. "She's a strange one."

In a hearing on Tuesday to charge Walker, Indiana State Police Lieutenant Jeff Heck said a 1992 homicide investigation report from Virginia Beach, Virginia, indicated Walker might have "multiple personalities and is capable of talking in a male voice".

Some of those who say they were conned by her are hoping police find her soon.

In Evansville, Daniel Keith helped Walker when she first moved to the city. Keith said she claimed to have fled an abusive relationship, and he allowed her to run up $US13,000 ($A20,000) in credit card charges.

"She's very convincing," Keith said. "She talked me into getting credit cards for her, and I was dumb enough to do it."

Like many who knew Walker through the years, he is bewildered by the latest charges.

"There had to be something in it for her," Keith said. "She did nothing, at least that was my take of her six years ago, she did nothing unless there was something in it for her."
I'll torture her, all they have to do is pay for my plane ticket there, and perhaps a lunch.