This is part 2 of Treva Throneberry. Be sure to read part 1 first!
In 1997, Treva walked into Evergreen High School in Vancouver, Washington. By now, she was 28 years old, but told school officials that she was 16. She still had her tennis racket and small red bible.
Now her name was Brianna Stewart and she claimed that she had been homeless, just across the river, in Portland, Oregon for almost a year. She was now living with a family that she met at Glad Tidings Church.
When asked where she had been before Portland, Brianna said, in a slight southern accent, that she was from Mobile, Alabama. She was raised by her stepfather who was Native American and, as usual, a member of the police force. He was her sole caretaker after her mother had been murdered.
Brianna said that she had run away from home at 13 and was hitchhiking to the Northwest to find her biological father.
Brianna said that she was enrolling in public school for the first time because her stepfather had homeschooled her.
Her first day of class as a 10th grader, she entered her Algebra I class and met a boy named Ken Dunn.
Brianna wore overalls and pigtails every day. She made friends, had a boyfriend (Ken) and participated in extra curricular activities. She still played tennis, but she was also in the school play. She earned a D in her Theatre class, despite all the practice she’d had acting like a teenager.
Brianna told Ken all about her parents. She told him that she had seen her mother’s murder and that her stepfather had done it. She told him that she had gotten pregnant at 11 years old, but had miscarried after she was shoved down a flight of stairs.
Brianna also told him that a man in Vancouver had raped her. Charles W. Blankenship was arrested and in March 1998 was sentenced to 1 year in jail for communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.
By that time, Brianna was finishing up her junior year at Evergreen High School. She wanted to become a lawyer and advocate for victims of child abuse. There was a problem, though. Brianna didn’t have social security number. She would need one to get a job and apply for college, scholarships and loans.
She needed to provide the identities of her birth parents to the Social Security office to get a Social Security card. Brianna couldn’t provide any information about them. Her therapist said that she suffered from amnesia due to post-traumatic stress disorder.
As usual, there was people out there that wanted to help her. Social workers and, because she said her step father was Navajo, Indian Health Services offered to help research her family.
She claimed to have grown up in Daphne, Alabama. Police there took her on a tour of the city hoping that she might remember something about her parents.
Brianna asked two different lawyers to help her obtain a Social Security number. One of them had her fingerprinted and sent them off to the FBI to make sure they did not match any missing person cases.
There were lots of people that wanted to help Brianna, but some people were starting to doubt her story.
The more she told it, the more outlandish it became. Then she visited a dentist in Portland who noticed something strange.
It appeared as though Brianna’s wisdom teeth had been removed and the incisions had completely healed over. This was very unusual in a 16 year old girl. In response to being questioned about it, Brianna wrote a 5 page letter to her social worker upset about being accused of lying about her past. The social worker did not mention the situation again.
In May 1999, Brianna told the police that David Gambetta, whose family she had been staying with, had installed video cameras in her bedroom. The police found no evidence and the Gambettas kicked Brianna out.
David’s son was a close friend of Ken’s. When he discovered that Brianna had lied and caused this family so much distress, Ken broke up with her.
Brianna graduated from Evergreen high School in June 2000. Treva had been a great student. Brianna graduated with a C average.
On March 22, 2001, Brianna was arrested for theft and perjury. Her fingerprints matched the ones from when she was arrested for filing a false police report. They identified her as Treva Throneberry.
Treva was now 31 years old and had cheated the state of Washington out of thousands of dollars while in foster care and the public education system.
Charles Blankenship was released from prison because he had not actually been communicating with a minor.
Her arrest made the national news and family members contacted Treva. Her sisters even came forward to talk about the abuse they had suffered as children. Through it all, Treva continued to insist that she was Brianna Stewart.
Did Treva truly believe she was Brianna? If so, why? It has been suggested that Treva developed amnesia due to her past traumas. She may also have been suffering from multiple-personality disorder.
What is confusing about this case is:
1) If Treva had intended to commit fraud, she could have chosen a much more lucrative ruse than a trouble teenage runaway.
2) Why did she allow her fingerprints to be taken if she knew that she had been arrested before and that her fingerprints would be on file?
3) Why does she, still to this day, refuse to acknowledge that she is Treva Throneberry?
Treva was so confident in her story that she requested a DNA test to prove that she was not related to Carl and Patsy. The test results showed that she was, without a doubt, Treva Throneberry. Her response was that there must have been an issue with the blood and that the test results were incorrect.
Treva was offered a plea bargain of two years if she would admit her true identity. She refused. She fired her lawyer for suggesting that she take it and defended herself at trial.
Despite her poor grades in Theatre class, her portrayal of Brianna in court was believable. The judge once addressed her at “Miss Stewart, Miss Throneberry, whatever.”
Sharon flew in to be questioned during the trial. She brought photos from when Treva had lived with her in Wichita Falls.
These photos were the only thing that seemed to catch Treva off guard. She stared at them for long time before speaking to Sharon, who was sitting on the witness stand. When she did speak, she asked Sharon if these were, indeed, pictures of Treva and asked what she had been like. Sharon told Treva that, as a child, she had been polite and thankful. She said that Treva enjoyed church and tennis. Treva was quiet again for a moment before asking if she was smart. Sharon said yes. Treva asked a few more questions and then she was done with Sharon. She ended their conversation with a quick, unemotional “thank you.”
Treva called in a few teachers and counselors from school. She was trying to prove to the jury that most her conversations with them had been about the future. They confirmed that it did seem like Treva wanted to grow up this time. She wanted to attend college and get a job. She said frequently to them that she just wanted to live a “normal” life. The irony is that this might have been the last time that she wanted to be 16 years old, but it was also the first time that she faced any serious consequences for her action making it so that she could never go back.
Treva was found guilty and sentenced to 3 years in prison. She was released in June 2003 having served just a little over 2 years. She moved to Seattle and lived in a woman’s shelter for a few months. She was granted a Washington State ID card with the name Brianna Stewart and the birthdate December 22, 1981.
Treva most recently appeared in the news again when she called the police saying that a man had attempted to rape her while she was at work. She was working as a maid in a hotel and reported her name to be Brianna Kenzie. Michael Caton was arrested in May 2016.
Michael was released when Treva refused to identify him as her attacker. When her employer discovered that Treva had served prison time, she was fired from her job.
A video summary of this week’s post can be found at