When Bobby Edward Fort was drafted into the US Coast Guard in 1994, he was 27 years old. 22 years later he left the service and worked for a defense company in Honolulu. But the truth was that Bobby Fort was long dead: He had died in a Texas hospital in 1967 at the age of less than three months. The Coast Guard’s Bobby Fort stole the dead baby’s identity 35 years ago. Using a fake birth certificate, the man obtained five passports, driver’s licenses and Department of Defense references. Now the suspicion of espionage hovers over him and his wife.
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Like the man who gave his name as Walter Glenn Primrose, his wife Gwynne Darle Morrison is said to have lived for decades under the stolen identity of a child who died in Texas. A district judge ordered pre-trial detention for the now 66-year-old.
The woman’s release on bail will be heard on Tuesday
The hearing of his wife, also born in 1955, whose false name was Julie Lyn Montague, is scheduled for Tuesday. Then it will be decided whether she will be released on bail.
The hearing of Primroses did not explain why the couple hid their own past, but on the contrary raised new questions. Whether the case goes beyond stolen identities is also still unclear. However, prosecutor Wayne Myers hinted that the accused man may have overseas connections.
“We believe that the defendant appears to be highly adept at impersonating someone else, obtaining official identification documents, deceiving and evading detection,” Myers said. “He may – we’re not saying that’s the case for sure – have troubling foreign connections. And if that’s true, he might be able to use it to seek help.”
A search of the house where the couple lived in Hawaii revealed faded Polaroids, prosecutors said, showing them both wearing what appear to be genuine Russian KGB uniforms. An expert dated the recording to the 1980s.
Secret ink in the house of the couple with the stolen identity
A set of secret ink, documents in encrypted language and maps of military bases were also secured in the house, Myers said. Recordings of a private conversation between the couple would have pointed to a spy background.
The pair’s public defender, Craig Jerome, said the government had only presented speculation and no evidence that the couple could be involved in a more serious crime. If the case hadn’t been so charged, his mandate would certainly have been released, Jerome said.
Prosecutors fear the man with the stolen identity could escape
The prosecutors, however, saw a risk of flight. They pointed out in court that Primrose had worked for the Coast Guard as an electrical engineer and was highly qualified to be able to covertly communicate if released. The court will decide on Tuesday whether his wife will be released on bail.
According to Megan Kau, the woman’s attorney, the couple lived a life of integrity regardless of the names they used. In the alleged KGB uniforms, both would have posed for photos for fun. “She wants everyone to know that she’s not a spy,” Kau said of her client. “It has all been inflated disproportionately. The government is overshooting the mark.”
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The couple’s story begins in Texas, where Primrose and Morrison went to school and college together and were married in 1980. In the early 1980s, they announced to their families that they were going into a witness protection program, Myers said. They handed over the keys to their house in Nacogdoches and told relatives they could take whatever they wanted. Then the couple abruptly left the city and Texas, the house was later foreclosed on.
When they reappeared, they had new names and different explanations for what had happened. Primrose assumed the identity of baby Fort, who died in 1967, in 1987, and Morrison assumed the identity of Julie Lyn Montague, who died in 1968 at the same hospital in Burnet, Texas. In their new identity papers, the couple were both more than ten years younger than they really were.
Couple married a second time using false names
According to Myers, they told those close to them that they had to change their names for legal and financial reasons. Primrose once stated that he is a government official and therefore cannot share photos of himself. According to court documents, the couple remarried under the new names in 1988.
Prosecutor Myers said Primrose had a long history of espionage. His wife was critical of the government and the military and is said to have lived in Romania during the communist era, which attorney Kau rejected as false.
The couple, who were arrested at their home in Kapolei on Friday, face charges of conspiracy to commit a crime against the US, providing false information in their passport application and aggravated identity theft. They face up to 17 years in prison if convicted of all charges.