Preying on the troops.
Six states, six husbands, one woman
Wellsville Daily Reporter
By John Anderson
Investigative work from three people “two unlikely” helped solve a bizarre case that spanned six states and marriages to six men by one woman.
Shauna Marie McDonald, originally from Oregon, is legally Shauna Keith. She is 27 and in the Walton County (Ga.) jail without bail, facing charges of fraud and bigamy. She has been married six times, allegedly has five current husbands and three children. Police say she is pregnant with her fourth in jail.
Keith, 27, met her first husband in California. Her first two husbands have custody of the children. Police in Georgia say Keith has five Social Security numbers and was married to soldiers from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. She allegedly stole identities from soldiers and continued to meet them on the Internet.
On Thursday morning, Keith’s mother, Cynthia Gibson, said her daughter suffers from “Munchausen syndrome.” This disorder causes her daughter to make up stories about her past and health. “This is somewhat of a shock, but I’ve been expecting this,” Gibson told Good Morning America. “For the last five or six years, I’ve gotten random calls from men saying, “˜I think I am married to your daughter.'”
Gibson did not return phone calls to her Oregon home from the Daily Reporter. Alice Hackett of Bolivar knew Keith as Abigail “Abby” Lewis when she was married to her brother, Henry Lewis. Keith visited Bolivar and was arrested. That raised some eyebrows with Hackett and later Allegany County Sheriff Deputy Bart Hannon, who does not do investigations, but uncovered a lot of information in this case. After making several calls to state police, the FBI in Jamestown and the Department of Defense in Buffalo, information was passed along. They eventually talked to Walton County Sheriff’s Office Detective Jim Mayes, who told them of seven names, five Social Security numbers and three dates of birth used by Keith since 1999.
Hackett is still putting together a timeline.
“Husband No. 1 was in California. No. 2 she had a baby with, but the husband’s mother got custody of the baby,” said Hackett. “Husband No. 3 was in Colorado and she got pregnant with him as well. But she told him that there was a miscarriage. She left him when she met my brother (Lucious “Henry” Lewis) and put his name on it.
“When my brother came home from Iraq, they got married in Kentucky “” he was No. 4. In one week, she met a man online in Kansas, flew there and married No. 5. When she was let out of jail in Kentucky, she met a Marine on Christmas Eve (of 2007) and married him in the same day for No. 6.”
Hackett said Keith would open accounts and credit cards using her husband’s information and her doctored Social Security numbers and names and leave them, which also left them in debt.
“She wrote a $30,000 check for a Durango and then canceled the check. Lucious had to return two vehicles to dealers. She kept saying she had all this money from an inheritance,” said Hackett. “It’s unreal she got away with as much as she did.”
During a visit to Bolivar in 2006, things really got strange.
“She opened a checking account at Community Bank in Bolivar and closed it,” said Hackett. “The state police came here because they wanted to arrest her. I called her, she said she closed an account and owed $30. State police extradited her up here. She came here last April until October. While she was here, she was getting things at the jail. She told the Mormons she was a Mormon and they gave her money.
“The story is, this is a woman who preys on military men on the Internet “” she is a con,” said Hackett. “Why does she do it? What joy does she get other than the person she hurts? Not one man was not a military man.”
HUSBAND No. 4
Lucious “Henry” Lewis was like any other soldier with a computer, surfing the Internet, talking to people he met on Web sites like MySpace and Facebook. A divorced father, Lewis met a girl who said she was Abby Ryan and the two started talking and dating.
A short time later, the Ft. Knox soldier married the woman.
Lewis turned out to be her fourth husband of six … that’s how many men have been tracked down and married to her.
“Being in the military, you hear some wild stories “” but this takes the cake,” said Lewis, who left Otto-Eldred (Pa.) High School his junior year before moving to Bolivar and getting a degree. He moved to Bolivar with his sister, Alice Hackett, after their father died. In 1989, he started a new career, spending six years in Wellsville at the old reserve station on State Route 417 East. In 1996, he joined active duty and traveled the world, ending up in Ft. Knox where he met Keith online.
The relationship ended with Lewis being called to his apartment when Keith was taking his belonging to Kansas with Husband No. 5, neither knowing of each other or the fact she had three children.
“At first, it seemed, when we first got together, everything seemed kosher,” said Lewis by phone from his base. “It seemed she had a job. There were a couple little things that happened but it didn’t throw me off because life throws you curves.
“But when we went up to Bolivar for Christmas in 2006, things changed,” Lewis continued. “We were supposed to go see her family in North Carolina because she said her grandfather lived there. We were in Fort Brag for two days trying to find her grandfather’s house. She couldn’t find it. She said she didn’t know where he lived and that she had been there five years before.
“I could go to Buffalo after five years and find something and Ft. Bragg is not that big,” Lewis explained. “Eventually I found out all this information about other husbands. What really shocked me was when she went to Ft. Riley in Kansas and married another guy … that was shocking. To find out there are people like that in this world.”
Lewis, who was placed on a birth certificate for her third child, was working when Keith went online and allegedly met husband No. 5 in Kansas. Husband No. 6 was a Christmas Eve 2007 wedding.
“I’m from the Bolivar-Eldred area and you hear about weird stuff but you never think it will happen to you … It’s just shocking that all this stuff that happened,” said Lewis. “We dated a couple months, everything seemed right. But she was forging pay stubs and everything else. I was asking about her job because I was not sure what was going on, and she had these pay stubs. When you’re in the military, I get up at 5 a.m., do PT and I’m at work until 6 p.m. All of a sudden you are wondering what is going on while you are gone.”
Hackett said a bad check charge in Kentucky did Keith in, much like a charge in Bolivar that led Keith to spend five months in the Allegany County jail.
“In one week, She met a man online in Kansas, flew to Kansas and married No. 5,” said Hackett. “They were backing up a U-haul in Kentucky to leave for Kansas and the cops came. She was taking things with (Joseph R. Wood, Husband No. 5) and Wood didn’t know my brother existed.
“At first they argued over the baby, then they realized she was married to four men at once,” Hackett said. “My brother had to go back to the base and could not take the baby so the baby went to Social Services. Now she doesn’t have any of her three kids and we’re being told she is in jail in Georgia and pregnant again. Who do you believe?”
Bart Hannon has been with the Allegany County Sheriff’s Department since 1995, working the last 11 years as a deputy sheriff. While investigating crimes is not part of his job, that is what happened when a woman under their watch started getting visitors and phone calls asking for the same person but with different names.
While Hannon is deflecting praise for his work, he helped get an investigation started.
“I had limited contact with her directly,” said Hannon. “All the information she gave us when she was booked, everything was fictitious. Her stories and verbalizations were she never had any kids. In fact, she had three.
“Everything she said while she was here was a lie under a false identity,” Hannon continued. “An individual called to make an appointment to visit her. I entertained the phone call. The name the lady gave a name that was different.”
Hannon investigated and started calling husbands. The first three all were married to her and two wanted to know where she was. When he heard of the potential of fraud, he turned the case over to the state police and the FBI. When Hannon found out she had warrants for her arrest in Kentucky, she was sent there in October 2007. Unfortunately for another victim, she was eventually released and Hannon said she married her sixth husband on Christmas Eve. She was allegedly married to five husbands at once when she was finally picked up again and jailed in Georgia.
“She had very short, cropped hair. Small, square glasses. She didn’t act like she was trying to be attractive. I saw other photos on the Internet, you put them side-by-side, they are definitely the same person but she is not as well maintained,” said Hannon. “The (husbands) knew something crazy was going on, most of what they figured out was after the fact they had been had. I don’t think during their marriages they were able to tell what was going on.
“The big problem was the damage she had done,” Hannon continued. “There are bank loans, credit card debts, those things are all being compiled. There are financial problems these servicemen have had as a result of this. If they can prosecute her, hopefully something can be done to help bail these guys out of their obligations.”