She began her life on October 16, 1968 as Kimberly McLean.
By 1988, She was Becky Sue Turner.
Later that year she became Lori Erica Kennedy.
At the time of her death in 2010, she was Lori Ruff…
Kimberly McLean was the daughter of James and Deanne McLean. She was born in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. James was a carpenter and volunteer firefighter and Deanne stayed at home to raise Kimberly and her sister.
When Kimberly was a child, her parents divorced. Her mother’s second marriage to Robert Becker was hard on Kimberly. She was angry at having to move to a new house and attend a new school in Wyncote, Pennsylvania. In 1986, at the age of 18, she moved out of her mother’s house to King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. After living on her own for a short while, Kimberly told her family that she was moving again, that she wanted nothing to do with them and not to come looking for her. Her family would never see her again.
In May 1988, Kimberly was in Bakersfield, California. There she obtained a copy of Becky Sue Turner’s birth certificate.
Becky Sue Turner was born to Mr. and Mrs. Terry Turner in 1969. She and her two sisters died on December 29, 1971 when a fire broke out on the second story of their home in Fife, Washington. Terry attempted to save the girls, but they were trapped in their upstairs bedroom. Their 4 year old brother was taken safely from the house.
By June 1988, Kimberly was in Boise, Idaho where she applied for a state ID in Becky’s name.
The following month, Kimberly (now going by Becky Sue Turner) went before a judge in Dallas, Texas to legally change her name to Lori Erica Kennedy. The request was granted and she applied for a social security card with her new name on it.
Records show that Kimberly was granted a driver’s license in 1989 and a GED in 1990, both under the name of Lori Kennedy.
Kimberly (Lori) attended Dallas Community College and may have worked in a strip club during this time.
In 1997, she graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with a Business Administration degree.
According to a resume from 2003 (which may have been fabricated), Kimberly (Lori) claimed she had worked as a self employed Marketing Executive in Fort Worth, Texas from 1992 until 1998. After that, she said that she completed an internship in the Dallas/Ft. Worth suburb of Grand Prairie, Texas and was then contracted to work as a Publications Specialist for a church. The resume claims that she stayed in the Ft. Worth area for the next 5 years where she continued working in Marketing until 2002 but was layed off from one job and worked at another for less than one month. She was only working part time in 2003 doing Tech Support for a company in the suburb of Arlington, Texas.
During this time, Kimberly met a man name Jon Blakely “Blake” Ruff at a bible study group. He believed her to be Lori Kennedy. While dating Kimberly (Lori), Blake would ask her about her childhood, but found her to be very secretive. All she would tell him was that she was born in Arizona and it was rough for her growing up. She told Blake and his family that both her parents were deceased and that she was an only child.
Blake was born to Jon and Nancy Ruff in Longview, Texas. The Ruffs were a prominent family, possibly from “oil money,” in the area. Blake grew up going to the country club with his parents and went away to boarding school.
When the subject of marriage came up, Blake suggested a big wedding and his mother was excited to run an announcement of their engagement and wedding in the local paper. Kimberly (Lori) rejected both ideas. The couple eloped to Dallas, Texas in 2004 with only the preacher in attendance. This is when Kimberly became known as Lori Ruff.
Shortly after their marriage, the couple moved onto a 2 acre property in a small Texas town about 60 miles northeast of Dallas called Leonard, population 2,000. There Kimberly (Lori) took a job as a mystery shopper (someone hired to shop in businesses and then critique the service and products received) and joined the Texas Business Women networking group despite the fact that most people said that she was pretty standoffish. At the time, Kimberly (Lori) was being prescribed medicine for either ADHD or Tourette’s Syndrome according to Blake.
Blake was also reported to be a little odd. Some believed that he might be on the autism spectrum. He was kind but didn’t seem introspective or thoughtful. Some described him as “obedient” to Kimberly (Lori).
Kimberly (Lori) wanted children, but experienced several miscarriages. The couple opted for in vitro fertilization and Kimberly (Lori) gave birth to a baby girl in 2008. The Ruff family said that this is when they began to notice an entirely new set of odd behaviors in Kimberly (Lori).
Kimberly (Lori), perhaps because of the difficulty that she experienced trying to conceive, was obsessed with her daughter. She refused to ever leave her with a babysitter and emersed herself in studying the child’s genealogy. Jon and Nancy were further put off by their daughter in law’s behavior when she wouldn’t allow them to hold their granddaughter. Sometimes Kimberly (Lori) would forbid that they even be in the same room with her.
Kimberly (Lori) wanted her daughter to have a history. She asked Blake’s family about their lineage and requested the Ruff family recipes, but by this point the family wanted nothing to do with her.
Blake felt isolated in his marriage. His family wasn’t getting along with Kimberly (Lori) and all of her attention was on the baby, to the detriment of her marriage. The couple attended marriage counseling but Kimberly (Lori) still refused to be open and honest about herself and her past. Blake could no longer handle the trouble in his marriage or the tension between his family and his wife. In 2010, he moved out of the house he shared with Kimberly (Lori) and back in with his parents in Longview, Texas. He then filed for divorce.
The Ruff family received a series of threatening emails from Kimberly (Lori) and she caused a scene when the couple met up to exchange custody of their daughter.
Kimberly (Lori) was devastated by the dissolution of her marriage. She went to counseling meetings held at her local church and lost a considerable amount of weight. She also began to act even more strangely. She would talk to the minister endlessly about the things she didn’t like about herself and didn’t seem to understand why her marriage had failed. She was fidgety and would sit for long periods of time just staring at her hands. She also tried to steal a set of Jon and Nancy’s house keys.
On Christmas Eve 2010, Kimberly (Lori) parked in the driveway of the home where Blake lived with his parents and shot herself in the head. She was found by Jon when he went out to retrieve the morning paper. She was 41 years old.
Kimberly (Lori)’s funeral was held on January 3, 2011 at the First Christian Church in Longview, Texas. The obituary listed her birthday as July 18, 1969 and said that she lived in Scottsdale, Arizona then moved to Dallas, Texas in 1987. It also said that she owned the mystery shopper company that she worked for in Leonard, Texas.
Kimberly (Lori) left behind two suicide notes, one for Blake and one for their daughter to be opened on her 18th birthday. The notes were described by police as “ramblings from a clearly disturbed person.”
When the family and police searched her house, there were piles of laundry and dirty dishes. They found a lockbox in her closet. Blake had seen the box before but was told by Kimberly (Lori) never to touch it. The box was opened and inside they found the Idaho state ID with Becky Sue Turner’s name on it. They also found Becky’s birth certificate that Kimberly (Lori) had obtained in California.
A vague letter of recommendation for Lori Kennedy was found in the box. Written by “Roger Steinbeck,” the letter stated that Lori had worked for him until 1988. The letter was written on stationary from a hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. Hotel staff was contacted but they could not find any indication that a man by that name had stayed there. The signature on the letter looked similar to the one on Kimberly (Lori)’s Texas drivers license. This letter led to the speculation that some or all of her resume might have been fabricated.
Two other sheets of paper in the box were notes written by Kimberly. One was a jumbled list of names and phone numbers. The other had several dates written on it along with the letters D and M. Other notes on the papers included “402 months,” North Hollywood Police and “Mountain Bell (3 hours less).”
After these documents were examined by police, Lori Ruff was added to the federal database of missing and unidentified persons.
The story was quickly picked up by several websites frequented by amateur (or “armchair”) detectives. The Ruff family contacted a Texas congressman to look into the case. His aide got in touch with a Social Security investigator by the name of Joe Velling and asked him to investigate.
After spending 3 years looking into the case, Joe had determined that Kimberly hadn’t adopted her new identity for financial gain. It appeared to him that she just wanted to start a brand new life. He called on a reporter for The Seattle Times to run a story on the case in 2013. The story made the front page and was picked up by several other news agencies around the world.
In 2013, Joe received a call from a genealogist (and nuclear physicist) named Colleen Fitzpatrick. Colleen sent DNA collected from Blake and Kimberly’s daughter to 23andMe and Ancestry.com. The initial matches to Kimberly’s DNA were distant cousins that probably had never met her and couldn’t help to identify her. They eventually got a hit on Kimberly’s first cousin, a man named Michael Cassidy. 23andMe and Ancestry.com reached out to Michael, but he didn’t respond. Without any information about Michael, other than his name, the case went cold again. For 3 years the case sat dormant, but Colleen and Joe kept researching.
Colleen eventually traced the family tree of one of Kimberly’s third cousins to a great-great-grandfather born in 1848. She then traced the family tree back down to a name she had heard before: Michael Cassidy. This time, with the names of other relatives, Colleen was able to determine where Michael might live. She zeroed in on a Michael Cassidy living in Pennsylvania. She thought this was their guy. They were then able to track down other family members living in the area.
Armed with the information from Colleen and pictures of Kimberly provided by the Ruffs, Joe flew to Pennsylvania and went to the work place of one of Kimberly’s female relatives (who asked not to be named). When he showed her a picture, she said, “My god, that’s Kimberly!”
This family member led Joe to 80 year old Deanne, Kimberly’s mother. She has refused to speak to the media, but was upset to learn that her daughter had committed suicide.
A DNA test confirmed that her daughter was, in fact, Lori Ruff AKA Lori Erica Kennedy AKA Becky Sue Turner AKA Kimberly McLean.
Lori Ruff has been officially removed from the federal data base of missing and unidentified persons.
A video summary of this story: