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Porchlight International for the Missing & Unidentified > Missing Persons Cases 1999 > Henson, Brooke Leigh 07/04/99


Title: Henson, Brooke Leigh 07/04/99
Description: Traveler's Rest SC


monkalup - August 11, 2006 03:07 PM (GMT)


Missing Since: July 4, 1999 from Travelers Rest, South Carolina
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date Of Birth: April 17, 1979
Age: 20 years old
Height and Weight: 5'4; 104 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Brown hair; brown eyes. Henson's ears are pierced.
NCIC Number: M-225744337

Details of Disappearance
Henson resided with her family in Travelers Rest, South Carolina in 1999. She hosted a party with several friends during the evening of July 3, 1999. Henson's parents returned from a concert in Charlotte, North Carolina at approximately 2:00 AM on July 4. She was sitting on their front porch at the time of their arrival. Henson said that she and her boyfriend had a disagreement earlier that night. She told her family members that she planned to walk to Willis' store on the corner of Hawkins Road and Poinsett Highway to purchase cigarettes. Henson departed from the house at approximately 2:30 AM and was last seen walking along Henderson Drive. The store is approximately two blocks from her residence. Henson never returned home and has not been heard from again. She was last seen wearing dark green shorts, a tan tank top, black sandals, a silver watch on her left wrist and a silver bracelet on her right wrist.

http://www.gcso.org/missing.htm

monkalup - August 11, 2006 03:07 PM (GMT)
http://www.foxcarolina.com/Global/story.as...9&nav=menu149_8

Travelers Rest, SC
Detectives Investigate New Tip in Missing Woman Case

July 10, 2006 12:00 PM EDT


Friends and family remember her as the girl who would help anyone. "She just had a wonderful personality, a glowing personality," said Tammy Welch.

Seven years ago , July 4th, 1999, Brooke Henson disappeared. Her parents and aunt last saw her sitting on the front porch of their home on Henderson Drive in Travelers Rest. They say she seemed upset, they talked to her then they went inside and never saw her again. "She's a hometown girl and she deserves for people to know she's still missing. She's very much loved by her family and friends," said Welch, a family friend.

Through the years, Welch hosted candle light vigils, passed out fliers and created the Brooke Henson website. On the page, you can write well wishes for Brooke's safe return and leave tips in the case. "You know, just any little thing could solve this case," commented Welch.

Investigators with the Travelers Rest Police Department and SLED are investigating new information they pulled from the website. They're not saying much, but they say it is a new tip in the case. Detectives say they are working on an identity theft case involving Brooke.

Those who love her, hope it is the tip that will help detectives find her. "You have to have hope just to go on each day. If you don't have that hope then everything's gone," said Welch.

monkalup - August 11, 2006 03:08 PM (GMT)
http://www.whns.com/Global/story.asp?s=5228109

Travelers Rest, SC
Only On FOX: New York Woman Claims to be Brooke Henson

Aug 4, 2006 01:02 PM EDT

Only On FOX: New York Woman Claims to be Brooke Henson



You may have seen Brooke Henson's picture plastered on missing person's fliers or on a website set-up by family and friends dedicated to finding her. She disappeared back on July 4, 1999, some relatives say they last saw her at her parent's house in Travelers Rest. "I'm sure there's not a day that goes by that we all don't think about her," commented Lisa Henson, Brooke's aunt. She says not knowing what happened to Brooke is painful for the family. "It is definitely emotional," said Henson. Now investigators with SLED and the Travelers Rest Police Department want to know find a woman who claims she's Brooke Henson. "It's clearly identity theft," said Henson who doesn't believe the woman is Brooke. FOX Carolina showed Lisa Henson the woman's picture and she called the woman an impostor. "Every portion of her face and everything is totally different from Brooke's," said Henson. Investigators say the mystery woman enrolled in Columbia University in New York, then tried to apply for a job back in June using Brooke's social security number. When the application was presented, a manager in charge of hiring, went on the Internet and conducted a search. That's when Brooke Henson's website popped up and SLED agents were contacted. "We haven't come to a conclusion on either side. Either it is Brooke or it is someone claiming to be Brooke," said Lance Crowe, Travelers Rest Police Chief. Chief Crowe says the new information will go into Brooke's file. He says detectives in New York questioned the mystery woman who says she left Travelers Rest to get away from an abusive situation. They say family members asked the woman some questions about Brooke and her life. Detectives say the woman correctly answered some questions and didn't get others right. The woman left the police department and told detectives she would be back. "She was scheduled for DNA and didn't make that appointment," commented Crowe. Now detectives can't find the woman and with no DNA they still don't know who she really is. Brooke's aunt says one day they'll all know the truth. "Somebody will talk or they'll be some kind of resolution I'm sure to finding out what really happened to her," said Lisa Henson. Investigators say administrators at the university are also going through the woman's file. They haven't seen her at school either.

monkalup - August 11, 2006 03:08 PM (GMT)
http://www.wyff4.com/news/857523/detail.html

Woman's Disappearance Still A Mystery
Henson Disappeared 2 Years Ago; Family Still Hopeful
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TRAVELER'S REST -- Exactly two years ago to the day, a Traveler's Rest family was enjoying a normal Fourth of July.

Video
Search Continues For Missing Woman

But now, that family is trapped in a nightmare.

Brooke Henson, 21, had some friends over to her house on July 4, 1999. After they left, she sat out on her front porch to meet her parents when they arrived home from a trip from Charlotte, N.C.

That was the last time that anybody saw her.

"Everybody went to bed. She disappeared without a trace," Henson's aunt, Christi Metcalf, said.

Henson's family has celebrated her birthday by lighting candles in April, but they will not be firing any fireworks this Fourth of July.

"It's supposed to be such a happy time. Now it's almost a dread when this date comes. It's not a celebration anymore," Metcalf said.

Investigators looked everywhere in the around Traveler's Rest and found nothing.

Henson's family is now keeping posters and memories.

In Henson's community, the Fourth of July will light up with celebration. It is one that her family wishes that they could share.

"There's always hope and maybe someday it will be a celebration again," Metcalf said.

Investigators said that the case remains open.

If you have any information that could help Henson's family, call the Traveler's Rest Police Department at (864) 23-CRIME. You don't have to give your name when you call.

monkalup - August 11, 2006 03:08 PM (GMT)
http://www.wyff4.com/news/1544873/detail.html

TRAVELERS REST, S.C. -- For one Greenville County family, the Fourth Of July has not been a welcome date for the past few years.

In 1999, Brooke Henson, then 21, disappeared from Travelers Rest.

Searches for her since have turned up nothing. Until now, possibly.

A Web site designer has put together a site dedicated to finding the young woman.

Visit The Brooke Henson Web Site

It will be online for only three weeks, but already it's giving Henson's family some hope.

"(We're) trying to bring in information, gather information, in hopes that people in this area would see the Web site and maybe possibly somebody would talk," Web designer Tammy Welch told WYFF News 4's Brad Willis.

One of Henson's relatives said that she's grateful for the help.

"There was nothing, and now every day on the Web site there's just hundreds of people that have been on there," Henson's aunt, Christi Metcalf, told News 4.

Last week, the Web site turned up a lead.

Three weeks after Henson disappeared, North Carolina investigators found the body of a young woman who matches Henson's description. The body was never positively identified.

Now, the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division is running a DNA test to determine if that body was Brooke Henson's.

monkalup - August 11, 2006 03:09 PM (GMT)
http://www.whns.com/Global/story.asp?S=1336747

Wednesday, June 25, 2003
Filing A Missing Persons Report

Missing Teen




Members of the Henson family in Travelers Rest say they haven't seen their loved one since the early morning hours ofJuly 4th 1999.

“It wasn't like her to leave home without calling her parents or letting them know where she was going,” said Lisa Henson of her niece, who disappeared from her Traveler's Rest home.

“The family is still very bothered as if it were day one because of the not knowing,” said Henson.

The Henson family believes because Brooke is an adult there was no sense of urgency from police.

“It was not actively worked right in the beginning,” commented Henson.

Investigators with the Greenville County Sheriff's Office say there is no time frame in filing a Missing Persons Report.

“If your child is missing out of your house 30 minutes and you don't know where that child is then you can immediately make a report,” said Melissia McKinney, a Juvenile Investigator with the Greenville County Sheriff's Office.

McKinney says however, it is important to find out the particulars in the case. For example, is the minor a runaway, or was he or she abducted? If the child was abducted, the Amber Alert System is used, but not if the missing person is an adult.

“You can leave your house as an adult, the only thing is: are there any circumstances,” commented McKinney.

Officers say it’s also important to keep updated photos of family members.

oldies4mari2004 - August 19, 2006 09:52 PM (GMT)

oldies4mari2004 - January 8, 2007 02:34 AM (GMT)
Brooke Leigh Henson


Above Images: Henson, circa 1999


Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

Missing Since: July 4, 1999 from Travelers Rest, South Carolina
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date Of Birth: April 17, 1979
Age: 20 years old
Height and Weight: 5'4, 104 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Brown hair, brown eyes. Henson's ears are pierced. She smoked Marlboro cigarettes at the time of her 1999 disappearance.
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A tan tank top, dark green shorts, black sandals, a silver watch on her left wrist and a silver bracelet on her right wrist.


Details of Disappearance

Henson resided with her family in Travelers Rest, South Carolina in 1999. She hosted a party with several friends during the evening of July 3, 1999. Henson's parents returned from a concert in Charlotte, North Carolina at approximately 2:00 a.m. on July 4. She was sitting on their front porch at the time of their arrival. Henson said that she and her boyfriend had a disagreement earlier that night. She told her family members that she planned to walk to Willis's store on the corner of Hawkins Road and Poinsett Highway to purchase cigarettes. Henson departed from the house at approximately 2:30 a.m. and was last seen walking along Henderson Drive. The store is approximately two blocks from her residence. Henson never returned home and has not been heard from again.
Henson's loved ones stated that it is extremely uncharacteristic of her to leave without warning. Her family said that authorities did not begin a search of the area until three weeks after her disappearance. Investigators reportedly believed that Henson left of her own accord and expected her to return shortly afterwards.

In June 2006, a student at Columbia University in New York City registered for classes using Henson's name, date of birth and Social Security number. Investigators are trying to identify the student, but they do not believe she is actually Henson. Henson's case remains unsolved.



Investigating Agency
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Travelers Rest Police Department
864-23-CRIME
OR
South Carolina Law Enforcement Division
803-737-9000



Source Information
WYFF-4
Brooke Henson: Forever In Our Hearts
North American Missing Persons Network



Updated 1 time since October 12, 2004.

Last updated October 14, 2006; details of disappearance updated.

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monkalup - January 16, 2007 03:48 PM (GMT)
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/loca...mposter11m.html


A disappearance, stolen identities and a trail of clues
By Jennifer Sullivan

Seattle Times staff reporter

PREV of NEXT





An undated photo of Esther Reed


The last time Edna Strom saw her younger sister, Esther Reed, the two had a screaming match outside a courthouse in Kent.

It was 1999, and then-21-year-old Reed was a Mountlake Terrace High School dropout accused of possession of stolen property, including a book of Strom's checks. She would eventually plead guilty to the charge.

Not long afterward, Reed stopped coming around to see her family and her e-mail account was shut down. Strom and her six siblings assumed that their sister's sketchy lifestyle may have somehow led to her death.

But last fall, King County sheriff's detectives approached Strom with a story that has prompted a nationwide hunt and sparked internal investigations at two of the nation's most prestigious Ivy League schools.

Detectives told Strom that soon after leaving the Seattle area, Esther Reed ceased to exist. In her place, they say, was a con artist who stole the identities of three women to gain admission to colleges on both coasts, earn money and find places to live.

Whether in California, where she attended California State University, Fullerton; or Boston, where she attended Harvard; or in New York City, where she attended Columbia University, the woman who was once Esther Reed conned professors, friends and suitors into believing she was someone that she had never met, police say.

Last summer, just as police in New York were closing in on her, Reed did what friends and family say she does best: She vanished.


From S.C. to Ivy League


On July 4, 1999 — the same year Reed last spoke with her family — Brooke Henson walked away from a house party in Travelers Rest, S.C., and was never seen again. Within days of her disappearance, police feared the 20-year-old woman had been slain.




"When I got the case in 2001, we were basically looking for a body," said Investigator Jon Campbell, of the Travelers Rest Police Department.

Henson's friends and family put up posters and created a Web site for the missing woman, Campbell said. After years without a word, Henson's family — just like Reed's — concluded she was likely dead.

But in June, Campbell received a call from New York police, who said Henson had turned up in that city. Campbell was startled but skeptical.

Henson, a high-school dropout, was now listed as a student at Columbia University. New York City police said she was discovered after a prospective employer typed her name into the Internet and discovered the Web site for the missing woman, Campbell said.

When confronted by New York City investigators, the woman at Columbia said she was a domestic-violence victim who was trying to keep a low profile for her safety, Campbell said. The woman had a South Carolina birth certificate and knew details about Henson's family and Travelers Rest.

"Instead of her saying, 'You got me,' she said, 'I'm Brooke Henson, I'm a domestic-violence victim, leave me alone,' " Campbell said Wednesday. "I didn't believe it was her from the very beginning."

After questions were raised over her 1999 disappearance, the woman claiming to be Henson agreed to take a DNA test, Campbell said. But when she failed to show up for the July 5 test, investigators entered her apartment. "She had taken her hairbrushes, cat, clothes and things she knew cops would go after for DNA," Campbell said. "She left in a hurry."

During their investigation, police tracked down people who knew the woman claiming to be Henson. She told some that she earned a living as a European chess champion, according to Campbell. But one skeptical boyfriend had rummaged through her purse and discovered identification for seven different people, including Brooke Hanson and Esther Reed, authorities said.

When police in South Carolina realized that a woman named Esther Reed had been reported missing by her family in Washington state, they became suspicious. Authorities in South Carolina contacted the King County Sheriff's Office, which had taken Reed's missing-person's report, and obtained a photo of Reed. Campbell noted that the two women were of the same height, weight and age and resembled one another but were clearly not the same woman.

Police say they learned that before adopting Henson's identity, Reed claimed she was Natalie Fisher and Natalie Bowman. While investigators aren't sure whether Fisher is a real person, they say Bowman is a student at Columbia who grew up in Massachusetts. Bowman was studying in South America when her identity was stolen and said she doesn't know the woman who claimed to be her, Campbell said.

A spokeswoman at Cal State Fullerton said a woman named Natalie Bowman took philosophy and public-speaking courses in the fall of 2002. A professor there wrote her a recommendation letter and she got into Harvard, Campbell said. Authorities believe that was Reed.

Spokespeople at Harvard didn't return calls Wednesday.

A spokesman at Columbia University said a Brooke Henson attended the school for two years — and that, too, was Reed, Campbell said. Campbell said the schools are investigating how the woman managed to gain admission under assumed identities.

It's unclear how Reed, a high-school dropout allegedly posing to be Henson, also a high-school dropout, gained entrance to some of the nation's most academically rigorous schools. In addition to being the focus of a search by investigators in Travelers Rest and King County, Reed is wanted by the U.S. Attorney's Office on federal identity-theft charges, said Campbell.


Still on the run


When a King County sheriff's detective handed Edna Strom a photo of the Columbia University student claiming to be Henson last fall, she had no doubt it was her sister. Reed is now 28.

"We were happy she was alive," Strom, 48, said Wednesday, speaking by phone from her Oregon home. "She's come a long way from the petty theft she started in the Seattle area."

Strom said she doubts she will ever hear from her sister while the woman is on the run.

Police in South Carolina don't believe Reed had anything to do with Henson's disappearance in 1999, which remains unsolved. But for Henson's family, learning that someone had stolen the identity of the missing woman has been difficult.

"All of these emotions just resurface inside of you," said Brooke Henson's aunt, Lisa Henson. "We would like to see her caught."

Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294


Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company


monkalup - January 16, 2007 03:49 PM (GMT)

monkalup - June 23, 2007 05:34 PM (GMT)
http://www.wyff4.com/news/11457980/detail.html

Brooke Henson Case Gets National TV Exposure

POSTED: 5:30 pm EDT March 30, 2007
UPDATED: 5:43 pm EDT March 30, 2007

Travelers Rest police and family members are hoping that Court TV can answer the question of what happened to Brooke Henson nearly eight years ago.

Henson has been missing since July of 1999. Since then, investigators at the Travelers Rest Police Department haven't stopped looking for her.

"You never seem to have any closure to anything. It's constantly on your mind,” Brooke Henson's aunt Lisa Henson told WYFF News 4’s Myra Ruiz. “It's constantly a dark cloud over your head."

Court TV’s Missing Persons Unit program will feature Henson’s case in an upcoming episode.

"It's just one more way to pressure your people to speak to us, to jog people's memories, to draw attention to it," Travelers Rest Police Chief Lance Crowe said.

Police said they consider several people to be “persons of interest” in Henson's disappearance, but none have yet been named as suspects.

Court TV’s coverage could change that, Crowe said.

"We could have somebody from across the country that could see this and call with information that hasn't yet come out," Crowe said.

This week, film crews shot scenes in Travelers Rest for the movie “Leatherheads.” Some TR officers who provided security on the film set will now find themselves on camera.

Officers will act out events from the investigation.

"It's really not about us. It's about recreating and re-enacting scenes," Crowe said.

Meanwhile, family members wait for answers.

"Brooke was a sweet, sweet young girl and she didn't deserve what maybe has happened to her," Lisa Henson said.

Family members will hold a candlelight vigil for Brooke Henson on her birthday, April 17. Police also said they hope the event will generate leads from the community.


monkalup - June 23, 2007 05:35 PM (GMT)
http://www.wyff4.com/news/11537439/detail.html

Search For Missing Woman Re-Enacted For TV

POSTED: 5:13 pm EDT April 5, 2007
UPDATED: 5:53 pm EDT April 5, 2007

TRAVELERS REST, S.C. -- The case of a missing Travelers Rest woman is about to get national attention.

Court TV will feature a segment on Brooke Henson. She was last seen in July of 1999.

Thursday, the Travelers Rest Police Department along with dive team members with the Greenville County Sheriff's Office re-enacted the search for Henson. K-9 and water searches took place at several locations during the early parts of the investigation.

Police said they consider several people to be “persons of interest” in Henson's disappearance, but none have yet been named as suspects. Investigators hope the exposure will generate new leads.

Travelers Rest Police Chief Lance Crowe said, "The case hasn't been considered cold for quite a while now, but it's gotten us back into things in very sharp detail, looking at what took place and what happened and re-enacting it has certainly helped us."

Court TV plans to air the episode sometime around the anniversary of Henson's disappearance.


monkalup - June 23, 2007 05:36 PM (GMT)
http://www.wyff4.com/news/12199319/detail.html

Vigil Remembers Missing Woman's Birthday

POSTED: 6:36 pm EDT April 16, 2007
UPDATED: 6:39 pm EDT April 16, 2007

TRAVELERS REST, S.C. -- Friends and loved ones of an Upstate woman missing for several years will hold a candlelight vigil on her birthday.

Brooke Leigh Henson disappeared in the early morning hours of July 4, 1999.

The vigil at the Ingles on Highway 276 in Travelers Rest will be held Tuesday, April 17 -- on what would have been Henson's 28th birthday.

Guest speakers at the vigil include Rev. Max Warden and Travelers Rest Police Chief Lance Crowe. A crew from the America's Most Wanted television show is expected at the vigil.

Police have said they consider several people to be "persons of interest" in Henson's disappearance, but none have been named as suspects.

monkalup - July 1, 2007 03:18 AM (GMT)

monkalup - July 5, 2007 08:45 PM (GMT)
http://www.wyff4.com/news/13622180/detail.html

Missing Woman's Aunt Reflects On 8-Year-Old Mystery
TV Show In Town On AnniversaryOf Disappearance

POSTED: 6:13 pm EDT July 4, 2007

TRAVELERS REST, S.C. -- Every year, the fireworks and festivities of Independence Day do little to distract family members of Brooke Henson, who remember the day for a different reason.

Henson, then 20, disappeared after a party at her Traveler’s Rest home on July 4, 1999.

"What would she be doing if she were here with us? What would she be doing with her life?" asked Brooke's aunt, Lisa Henson.


"If we just knew what happened to Brooke, there could maybe be some closure," she said.

Henson is counting on national exposure -- including an upcoming segment on CBS' 48 Hours -- to help generate leads for the Travelers Rest Police Department. She spent the eighth anniversary of her niece's disappearance with a 48 Hours TV crew shooting video in northern Greenville County for an upcoming segment.

"You would think that if there was some kind of criminal activity that somebody would tell somebody else by now," Henson told WYFF News 4. "The longer it goes on, the more questions we have that arise."

A possible break in the case came last summer when Travelers Rest police learned a college student in New York City claimed to be the missing Henson. Investigators say she was using Brooke's name and social security number. The imposter was later identified as Esther Elizabeth Reed, a missing woman from Washington. Reed disappeared again before investigators could question her about the real Brooke Henson.

The twist in the investigation caught the attention of other national media outlets. In January, America's Most Wanted posted information about the Henson case on its website. Court TV also plans to air a segment on the case after interviewing Travelers Rest police and shooting re-enactments of a search for Henson. Police say the magazine Vanity Fair has also called them about possible feature.

Henson says she's grateful, but pained, by the attention on her niece's disappearance.

"It brings a lot of emotional upheaval in the sense that you can't kind of put it in the back of your mind," said Henson.

Ell - September 1, 2007 02:39 PM (GMT)
Normal, Fun-Loving Girl Vanishes

Brooke Henson has been missing from Travelers Rest, SC since July 4, 1999.


View LargerBrooke Leigh Henson was known as "Brookey" to her friends. She was a fun-loving girl, who enjoyed shopping with her mother and hiking in the South Carolina mountains. In fact, she loved the outdoors -- that's the place she felt most at home. Mysteriously, on July 4, 1999, she vanished and police suspect foul play.

Police say on July 3, 1999, Brooke hosted a party with several of her friends. Unfortunately, Brooke and her boyfriend had a disagreement that night and Brooke wanted to take a walk to get some fresh air.

She left at 2:30 a.m. and planned to walk to a convenience store two blocks away. Brooke was last seen walking along Henderson Drive in Travelers Rest, South Carolina. Police have followed numerous leads since her disappearance but have been unable to find Brooke.


Finally in the summer of 2006, Brooke Henson's relatives received news that offered a glimmer of hope.
Hope Found and Hope Lost
Finally in the summer of 2006, Brooke Henson's relatives received news that offered a glimmer of hope. Police in New York City called detectives in Travelers Rest, South Carolina and told them they had located Brooke. They said she was living in Manhattan. But the hope was short-lived.

When Travelers Rest detectives compared notes with New York detectives, they made a sinister discovery. Someone had stolen Brooke Henson's identity. Police believe the woman living in Manhattan was actually Esther Elizabeth Reed. Police believe Reed stole Henson's identity in order to be accepted to and attend Columbia University.

Police have no evidence that Reed used her fake ID to defraud anyone other than universities. But if they can find her, investigators would like to question her about money transfers from overseas and her taste for dating future military officers from West Point and Annapolis.


Police And Family: Please Help
There are many facets to this mystery that police need help solving. First, police, and Brooke's family need to know if she is dead or alive. If she's alive -- where is she? But, if, as police assume, she met with foul play -- where is her body? And, who killed her?

Police also want to know where Esther Elizabeth Reed is. She's classified as a "missing person" out of Washington State. Police believe AMW's viewers can help answer many of these questions

Sex Female

Race White

Age at Disappearance 20

Age Now 28

Height 5'4"

Weight 104

Hair (Color, Description, Facial Hair) Brown


Eyes (Color and Correction) Brown


http://www.amw.com/missing_persons/brief.cfm?id=42966


Ell - September 1, 2007 02:41 PM (GMT)
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monkalup - March 7, 2008 12:47 AM (GMT)
http://www.wspa.com/midatlantic/spa/news.a...02-04-0020.html

New Clues in 9 Year Old Mystery?

Monday, Feb 04, 2008 - 04:58 PM Updated: 05:27 PM

One woman captured in Chicago could bring new clues to the search of another missing from the Upstate.

Brooke Henson was last seen July 4, 1999 in Travelers Rest. But her name popped up again in 2006. Police say a con-artist, named Esther Reed, took Henson's identity and several others.

Federal agents arrested Reed at a hotel outside Chicago this weekend. Police in Travelers Rest say they do not think Reed had anything to do with Henson's disappearance, but plan on questioning her to make sure.

Chief Lance Crowe says Henson's family deserves answers.

"Definitely we want to bring closure to the family. We hope for a good outcome. We hope for positive news, if not that, then at least closure and let them understand a little bit better what happened to their loved one and to move on."

Chief Crowe says Reed may provide useful information, yet he's sure someone closer to home knows the secrets to break this case.

If you have any information, call Traveler's Rest police at 864-834-9029 or you can email in tips at justiceforbrooke@trpolice.com.

For more information:

http://www.trpolice.com/brooke_henson.html


http://www.stoneysplace.com/brookehenson.html


News release from Reginald Lloyd, United States Attorney, District of South Carolina:

AMERICA'S MOST WANTED TIP LEADS TO SC FUGITIVE

Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Reginald I. Lloyd stated today that Esther Elizabeth Reed, age 28, of King County, Washington, was arrested Saturday in Tinley Park, Illinois. Reed is named in a four-count federal indictment, charged with identity theft, mail fraud, wire fraud, and social security number fraud.

Reed is accused of stealing the identity of an upstate woman, Brooke Henson, missing from Travelers Rest, South Carolina, since 1999. Authorities learned that a student had used Henson's name and social security number to enroll at Columbia University in New York City from 2004 to 2006. Investigators determined through witness interviews that the student was in fact Reed. Federal prosecutors in South Carolina indicted Reed last year, alleging she used Henson's identification information to obtain a state birth certificate in Henson's name by mail. The indictment alleges that Reed used the birth certificate to obtain more than $100,000.00 in student loans to attend Columbia University, and to run up credit cards using the false name.

A witness provided investigators with a picture of Reed posing as Henson, which they displayed on the television show America's Most Wanted last year. The broadcast resulted in hundreds of tips from viewers who believed they had seen Reed. One tip came from an internet chat room user who remembered corresponding online with a person who posted the same picture of herself as that featured on America's Most Wanted. Investigators traced the chat room message to a specific internet account, and reviewed other e-mails from that account. Some of the messages indicated that Reed had stayed in certain motels in the mid-west. U.S. Marshals canvassed those motels, displaying the same photograph as featured on America's Most Wanted. One desk clerk recognized the woman in the photograph as a former guest, Jennifer Myers, and had made a copy of her driver's license. Agent's confirmed that the driver's license had been issued in Iowa, and further learned that a car was also registered in Iowa under the name Jennifer Myers. Agents sent out a nationwide bulletin on the car's license plate number, and on Saturday, Illinois authorities confirmed that the car was parked at a motel in Tinley Park. Marshals went to the motel, and arrested Reed without incident.

Reed will be transported back to South Carolina to face trial.

Mr. Lloyd stated the maximum penalty Reed can receive is a fine of $1,000,000.00 and imprisonment for 47 years.

The case is being investigated by agents of the United States Secret Service, the United States Marshal's Service, and the Travelers Rest Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney W. Walter Wilkins of the Greenville office will prosecute the case.



monkalup - March 7, 2008 12:48 AM (GMT)
http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=n...&id=5934978

Woman allegedly stole ID of missing person

Monday, February 04, 2008 | 5:34 PMStory Media Top Stories

By Leah Hope

A woman allegedly used a missing person's ID to get federal aid to pay for college.

For two years federal authorities have been tracking Esther Reed. In the summer of 2006, the U.S. Secret Service got a tip that the woman was using someone else's identity.

Federal agents allege Reed stole more than $100,000, which she used to attend Columbia University, in an extreme case of identity theft that involved financial aid. The 29-year-old is charged with mail and wire fraud and false identity documentation and identity theft.

She is accused of taking the identity of Brooke Henson, who has been missing from Travelers Rest, South Carolina, since 1999. The police chief of Travelers Rest believes Reed found Henson's information online, but is eager to talk to Reed about the disappearance.

On Saturday, a Tinley Park police officer spotted Reed's Subaru at a local motel. After discovering it belonged to a woman wanted by the Secret Service and U.S. Marshal, Reed was arrested.

"We are working in conjunction with the local, state and federal law enforcement agencies," said Yvonne DiCristoforo, U.S. Secret Service.

The Secret Service investigates cases of identity theft when losses exceed $25,000.

In Chicago, the Electronic and Financial Crimes Task Force works on ID theft cases. Yvonne DiCristoforo, who heads the Financial Crimes Unit at Chicago's local Secret Service office, said it often takes victims a while to spot the theft, which gives thieves times to take advantage.

"Typically, a victim will not even know until 30 days past when they look at a credit card bill," said DiCristoforo.

The Electronic and Financial Crimes Task Force is made up of officers from the Illinois Attorney General's Office and the Illinois State Police. DiCristoforo recommends people keep up on their credit and finances by using online resources.

"It's the availability of now. People can go and check their credit card statements and bank statements every day or every other day& and they are being notified immediately if someone is using their information or taking over their accounts," said DiCristoforo.

Reed appeared in federal court briefly Monday. She is being extradited to South Carolina by U.S. Marshals.




monkalup - March 7, 2008 12:48 AM (GMT)
http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/03/04/...-Ivy-League.php

Not guilty plea for woman accused of stealing missing S.C. woman's ID to get into Columbia U.

The Associated Press
Published: March 4, 2008

GREENVILLE, S.C.: A woman accused of using a missing person's identity to get into an Ivy League school made her first court appearance Monday, and the victim's relatives said they just want the theft suspect punished.

When Esther Elizabeth Reed was indicted last year, Brooke Henson's relatives said they hoped Reed could tell authorities where to find her.

"Of course at first, it was just giving us hope that Brooke was alive," Lisa Henson, Brooke's aunt, said Monday.

Investigators have since said they don't think Reed had anything to do with Henson's 1999 disappearance.

Reed is accused of stealing Henson's identity in 2003 and posing as her to obtain false identification documents, take a high school equivalency test and get into Columbia University.

She was indicted last year and made her first court appearance Monday on federal charges of identity theft, mail and wire fraud and obtaining false identification documents. If convicted on all four charges, Reed faces a possible $1 million fine and 47 years in prison, time Lisa Henson said she hopes Reed will serve.

"I just hope that she never gets to see the light of day again," she said.

Reed answered routine questions from U.S. Magistrate Judge William M. Catoe and showed no emotion during the brief proceedings. Catoe entered a not guilty plea to all charges.

Reed, who was arrested Feb. 3 outside Chicago, is 29; Brooke Henson would be 29 in April.

Reed began posing as Henson in October 2003, obtaining an ID card in Ohio using her name, date of birth and Social Security number, Assistant U.S. Attorney Walt Wilkins said.

Two months later, Reed took a high school equivalency test in Ohio using Henson's name and received a degree, Wilkins said. Again using Henson's information, she took a college entrance exam in California in May 2004, using her score to apply for admission to Columbia, the prosecutor said.

Reed attended the New York school for two years, beginning in August 2004, Wilkins said. She then applied for and received student loans in Henson's name, in amounts investigators have said exceeded $100,000.

Reed then applied to the state of South Carolina for a duplicate copy of Henson's birth certificate, which she received at an address in Massachusetts. In 2006, Reed also applied for a U.S. passport in Henson's name, Wilkins said.

Investigators have said Reed stole multiple people's identities and also was admitted to Harvard and California State University, Fullerton, though she has not been charged in those cases and Wilkins did not discuss them Monday.

Assistant Federal Defender Lora Collins, who was appointed Monday to represent Reed but did not appear with her in court, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

A message left at Columbia University's public affairs office after business hours Monday was not immediately returned.



monkalup - May 1, 2008 11:39 PM (GMT)
http://www.foxcarolina.com/news/15840310/d...aa&psp=news

More Charges Levied Against Alleged ID Thief
S.C. Woman Accused Of Stealing IDs Of Dozens Of People

Federal prosecutors said in documents filed Wednesday that a woman who authorities said used stolen identities to dupe an Ivy League college into admitting her faces new federal charges.

A revised indictment provides more details about how authorities think Esther Elizabeth Reed was able to fool dozens of people over several years.

Reed had a relationship under a false name with a cadet at West Point, convincing the cadet's mother to write a recommendation for her to go to Columbia University. She also created fake store receipts on her computer and returned items for cash refunds, according to the indictment.

Reed, of Townsend, Mont., now faces additional identity theft and fraud charges for stealing the identities of six people. A message left after business hours Wednesday for her attorney wasn't immediately returned.

Authorities said they caught up to Reed in New York in July 2006, where she was using the name of Brooke Henson, a Travelers Rest woman who has been missing for nearly nine years.


monkalup - June 20, 2008 01:44 PM (GMT)
Woman charged with ID theft expected in court



Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2008 at 10:14 a.m.

(AP) -- COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Esther Elizabeth Reed's attorney says there has been too much media attention in South Carolina for her client to get a fair trial here.

That's what defense attorney Ann Fitz says she'll argue during a hearing Wednesday.

Reed was indicted last year on federal charges that she used a missing South Carolina woman's identity to get an Ohio identification card and gain acceptance into Columbia University.

Fitz says the Greenville area has been inundated with media reports about to Brooke Henson, the missing woman whose identity Reed is accused of stealing.

Fitz says she'll ask a federal judge to move the trial to New York, Chicago or Atlanta.

Authorities have said they do not think Reed had anything to do with Henson's disappearance.

She was last seen in 1999.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

monkalup - June 20, 2008 01:45 PM (GMT)
On July 03, 1999 Brooke Leigh Henson had a few friends over for a party on Henderson Drive in Travelers Rest. As her friends began to leave the party, Brooke went outside and waited on the front porch for her parents to come home.


Brooke’s parents arrived around 2:00 am on July 4th. Brooke told them she and her boyfriend had been arguing and she told her mother, "I’m getting out of here". Brooke also told her mother that she wasn’t really going anywhere, but was only trying to get the attention of her boyfriend. Brooke then left walking in an unknown direction. Brooke disappeared between the hours of 2:30 and 2:43 am on July 04, 1999.



Brooke Henson's family and friends have been without their loved one now for 3274 days 6 hours 56 minutes 47 seconds


After several years of comparing and investigating numerous leads and formulating likely theories, the case took an unexpected turn in our favor. In June of 2006, TRPD’s investigator received information from the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division that a woman in New York had attended Columbia University for two years under the identity of Brooke Henson. This woman, whose real name is Esther Reed, claimed to be the same Brooke Henson who has been missing from Travelers Rest since 1999. However, Reed failed to show up for an appointment to submit DNA that would have either confirmed or refuted her claim and has not been seen since. This aspect of the Henson case has brought renewed attention to Brooke’s disappearance, reinvigorating the case with new leads and assistance from national media such as CNN, America’s Most Wanted, 48 Hours, and even the Montel Williams show.

We have high hopes that the unprecedented media attention will bring new leads in what happened to Brooke and bring the Henson family the closure that they so desperately need.

Investigator Clark Brazier can be reached at 864-834-9029, or you can email justiceforbrooke@trpolice.com with information.

http://www.trpolice.com/brooke_henson.html




monkalup - June 20, 2008 02:06 PM (GMT)


Jennifer Phillips (http://www.whns.com/Global/story.asp?S=365206&nav=menu149_9) reporting
TRAVELERS REST, S.C.-- Family and friends gathered for a birthday celebration at the Ingles Grocery Store parking lot in Travelers Rest. There were balloons, ribbons, bracelets and even a birthday song, but the guest of honor is missing.
"She's my daughter and I miss her, I miss her everyday," said Martin Henson, Brooke's father.
So, everyday for eight long years, he waits on a phone call, hoping someone on the other end of the line will say Brooke's home. "I hope she see's herself on TV and comes home," said Brooke's father.
Friends and family members say they last saw Brooke at her home on Henderson Drive in Travelers Rest back on July 4, 1999. As the years go by, it doesn't get any easier, especially on her birthday.
So, as the group held candles in honor of Brooke, her mother cried uncontrollably, but she and her family remain hopeful. "There's so many things you can imagine- the good, bad, ugly, in between- you know? You just don't know, and a lot of times that's scarier than knowing," said Christi Metcalf, Brooke's aunt.
Brooke's family is praying for a break in the case. "It is just so hard, we just want some answers that would be great and having so we can have some form of closure because it is very, very hard," said Lisa Henson, Brooke's aunt.
Even though Brooke wasn't at the candle light vigil, family and friends say she was there in spirit. "Turquoise is her favorite color and the yellow stands for bring her home," said Tammy Welch, a family friend.
The group hopes next year, Brooke will be with them celebrating another birthday.
Travelers Rest Police Chief, Lance Crowe, announced that members with the Carole Sund-Carrington Foundation are offering a $5,000 reward for information that will bring Brooke back home.
Call the Travelers Rest Police Department if you have any information about this case.

http://www.fox21.com/Global/story.asp?S=6385390

monkalup - June 20, 2008 02:07 PM (GMT)
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/loca...mposter11m.html


A disappearance, stolen identities and a trail of clues
By Jennifer Sullivan

Seattle Times staff reporter

PREV of NEXT





An undated photo of Esther Reed


The last time Edna Strom saw her younger sister, Esther Reed, the two had a screaming match outside a courthouse in Kent.

It was 1999, and then-21-year-old Reed was a Mountlake Terrace High School dropout accused of possession of stolen property, including a book of Strom's checks. She would eventually plead guilty to the charge.

Not long afterward, Reed stopped coming around to see her family and her e-mail account was shut down. Strom and her six siblings assumed that their sister's sketchy lifestyle may have somehow led to her death.

But last fall, King County sheriff's detectives approached Strom with a story that has prompted a nationwide hunt and sparked internal investigations at two of the nation's most prestigious Ivy League schools.

Detectives told Strom that soon after leaving the Seattle area, Esther Reed ceased to exist. In her place, they say, was a con artist who stole the identities of three women to gain admission to colleges on both coasts, earn money and find places to live.

Whether in California, where she attended California State University, Fullerton; or Boston, where she attended Harvard; or in New York City, where she attended Columbia University, the woman who was once Esther Reed conned professors, friends and suitors into believing she was someone that she had never met, police say.

Last summer, just as police in New York were closing in on her, Reed did what friends and family say she does best: She vanished.


From S.C. to Ivy League


On July 4, 1999 — the same year Reed last spoke with her family — Brooke Henson walked away from a house party in Travelers Rest, S.C., and was never seen again. Within days of her disappearance, police feared the 20-year-old woman had been slain.




"When I got the case in 2001, we were basically looking for a body," said Investigator Jon Campbell, of the Travelers Rest Police Department.

Henson's friends and family put up posters and created a Web site for the missing woman, Campbell said. After years without a word, Henson's family — just like Reed's — concluded she was likely dead.

But in June, Campbell received a call from New York police, who said Henson had turned up in that city. Campbell was startled but skeptical.

Henson, a high-school dropout, was now listed as a student at Columbia University. New York City police said she was discovered after a prospective employer typed her name into the Internet and discovered the Web site for the missing woman, Campbell said.

When confronted by New York City investigators, the woman at Columbia said she was a domestic-violence victim who was trying to keep a low profile for her safety, Campbell said. The woman had a South Carolina birth certificate and knew details about Henson's family and Travelers Rest.

"Instead of her saying, 'You got me,' she said, 'I'm Brooke Henson, I'm a domestic-violence victim, leave me alone,' " Campbell said Wednesday. "I didn't believe it was her from the very beginning."

After questions were raised over her 1999 disappearance, the woman claiming to be Henson agreed to take a DNA test, Campbell said. But when she failed to show up for the July 5 test, investigators entered her apartment. "She had taken her hairbrushes, cat, clothes and things she knew cops would go after for DNA," Campbell said. "She left in a hurry."

During their investigation, police tracked down people who knew the woman claiming to be Henson. She told some that she earned a living as a European chess champion, according to Campbell. But one skeptical boyfriend had rummaged through her purse and discovered identification for seven different people, including Brooke Hanson and Esther Reed, authorities said.

When police in South Carolina realized that a woman named Esther Reed had been reported missing by her family in Washington state, they became suspicious. Authorities in South Carolina contacted the King County Sheriff's Office, which had taken Reed's missing-person's report, and obtained a photo of Reed. Campbell noted that the two women were of the same height, weight and age and resembled one another but were clearly not the same woman.

Police say they learned that before adopting Henson's identity, Reed claimed she was Natalie Fisher and Natalie Bowman. While investigators aren't sure whether Fisher is a real person, they say Bowman is a student at Columbia who grew up in Massachusetts. Bowman was studying in South America when her identity was stolen and said she doesn't know the woman who claimed to be her, Campbell said.

A spokeswoman at Cal State Fullerton said a woman named Natalie Bowman took philosophy and public-speaking courses in the fall of 2002. A professor there wrote her a recommendation letter and she got into Harvard, Campbell said. Authorities believe that was Reed.

Spokespeople at Harvard didn't return calls Wednesday.

A spokesman at Columbia University said a Brooke Henson attended the school for two years — and that, too, was Reed, Campbell said. Campbell said the schools are investigating how the woman managed to gain admission under assumed identities.

It's unclear how Reed, a high-school dropout allegedly posing to be Henson, also a high-school dropout, gained entrance to some of the nation's most academically rigorous schools. In addition to being the focus of a search by investigators in Travelers Rest and King County, Reed is wanted by the U.S. Attorney's Office on federal identity-theft charges, said Campbell.


Still on the run


When a King County sheriff's detective handed Edna Strom a photo of the Columbia University student claiming to be Henson last fall, she had no doubt it was her sister. Reed is now 28.

"We were happy she was alive," Strom, 48, said Wednesday, speaking by phone from her Oregon home. "She's come a long way from the petty theft she started in the Seattle area."

Strom said she doubts she will ever hear from her sister while the woman is on the run.

Police in South Carolina don't believe Reed had anything to do with Henson's disappearance in 1999, which remains unsolved. But for Henson's family, learning that someone had stolen the identity of the missing woman has been difficult.

"All of these emotions just resurface inside of you," said Brooke Henson's aunt, Lisa Henson. "We would like to see her caught."

Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294


Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company


monkalup - June 20, 2008 02:12 PM (GMT)
Home » 48 Hours

Capture The Queen
She's Young, She's A Con, And She Is Evading Law Enforcement
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Esther Reed (CBS)



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REED CASE:
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HENSON CASE:
justiceforbrooke@trpolice.com
864-834-9029

(CBS) On July 4th, 1999, Brooke Leigh Henson was reported missing in the small, quiet town of Travelers Rest, S.C., prompting a police investigation to locate the young woman.

There was a potential break in the case in 2006, when police got wind of a woman calling herself "Brooke Henson" in New York City. But as correspondent Peter Van Sant reports, as investigators dug deeper they uncovered an intricate web of lies, spun by a woman named Esther Reed.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The "Brooke Henson" in New York was taking classes at the prestigious Columbia University, and had told friends she had a lucrative career as a professional chess player.

But that scenario seemed far-fetched to South Carolina Detective Jon Campbell. That's because the missing person Campbell was after was a free-spirited young woman who never made it past the tenth grade.

"I didn’t think it was possible that Brooke had gone to New York and somehow got into an Ivy League school after she'd been a high school dropout," Det. Campbell explains.

But the Brooke in New York seemed genuine: she could even answer personal questions provided to police by her aunt Lisa Henson. But when Lisa saw a photo of the New York woman in July 2006, she was not looking at her niece.

Campbell called back to the NYPD, hoping to get some DNA from the mystery woman; police made an appointment to get a sample, but "Brooke Henson" never showed up.

The woman using Brooke's name was actually another missing person, Esther Elizabeth Reed. Like Brooke, Esther had disappeared in 1999.

As police would learn, the mystery of Esther Reed is a cross-country saga of fraud, fake identities, and frustrated dreams. It all began in the rural community of Townsend, Mont., where Esther was born and raised. People there remember her as a young woman with talents, and troubles.

Edna Strom, one of Esther's eight older siblings, showed 48 Hours Esther's childhood home, where new owners found a trunk full of the young woman's belongings and mementos, including pictures.

In photos, Esther looked like a happy young girl. But the happy child would grow into a sullen, maladjusted teen, who wrote in a 1999 e-mail to her sister Edna, "When I was 14, I learned how to lock myself up in a little box and I had no idea how to unlock it. …I feel like I had this wall surrounding my soul and I couldn't get out and nothing could get in."

Like many teens, Esther was self-conscious about her weight, and had trouble coping when her parents divorced in 1995.

"She was having a lot of trouble at home and I think that interfered with her abilities as a student," remembers Jim Therriault, who was Esther's English teacher. He also coached her in the one school activity she really seemed to enjoy: competitive debate.

"She wanted to be a lawyer. And she would be so good. But she always talked about going to school, to Harvard," Edna remembers.

But despite her smarts, Esther dropped out of high school as her emotional problems mounted.

"What do you think Esther saw when she looked in the mirror?" Van Sant asks Therriault.

"Somebody she didn't want to be. Someone she didn't like. Someone I think she would have done anything to escape from if she could have," he replies.

The first of many escapes came when Esther and her mother Florence moved from Montana to the Seattle area, where her sister Edna was living. But in 1998 tragedy struck when her mother died after a long battle with cancer.

Edna says Esther was close to her mother. "My mom was Esther's champion," Edna explains. "Esther felt like no one understood her but my mom. And when my mom died she felt like it really didn't matter. That she didn't matter to anybody anymore."

At the same time, 3,000 miles away in South Carolina, a similar tale of teenage angst was playing out in Brooke Henson's house. Like Esther, Brooke had also quit high school, and worse, had started dating a known bad boy.

Det. Campbell says the boyfriend, Ricky Shaun Shirley, had convictions for drug violations and assaults.

When 20-year-old Brooke disappeared, hours after getting in an argument with him, the family quickly focused its suspicion on Shirley and his friends. And when the cops came calling, Shirley clammed up. "He got a lawyer," Campbell recalls.

With no cooperating witnesses and no body, Brooke's case was little more than a tangle of rumors and country gossip. But it all pointed in one direction. "I believe she was killed. And her body was disposed of," Campbell tells Van Sant.

Asked if it is possible that Brooke simply ran away, Campbell says, "I don't think Brooke was good enough to run away, to disappear entirely with a tenth grade education and drop off the face of the earth and not leave any trail."

(CBS) In 1999, the same year Brooke vanished, a 21-year-old Esther Reed changed her name for the first time, going by Liz, an abbreviation of her middle name.

During this time, Edna's purse disappeared. "I lost my purse or it was stolen. I'm not sure which. But my checks and my ID are out there. So I filed a police report and then the checks started coming in," she recalls.

Months later, a policeman called Edna to tell her someone had been arrested at a local mall for theft and forgery. "He said, 'Well, the person we have arrested in Esther Elizabeth Reed.' And I just was in shock," she remembers. "It was like somebody slugged me in the stomach."

Esther pled guilty and was sentenced to probation. Edna confronted her wayward little sister on the courthouse steps. "I just told her, 'You can't live like this, you know. You have ripped me off. And you know who are you?'" Edna remembers.

The next day, Esther e-mailed a letter of apology to her siblings. "I sit here in my room feeling probably as low as I have ever been in my life…," Edna reads from the letter. "I want to be a normal girl who makes good choices. I want to apologize to all of you as a whole. …I do want my family back, but I understand I have put that right in jeopardy. Love, Liz or Esther."

Edna would never see her sister again. And from that moment on Esther Reed ceased to exist. Now a convicted criminal, Esther cut herself off from her family and began plotting her next move.

Natalie Fisher was one of Esther's first victims. The two met when Esther briefly rented a room from Natalie's brother.

Esther allegedly scammed Natalie's brother out of thousands of dollars. She also got a hold of Natalie's Social Security number and phone card. "I got a phone call from a collection agency representing AT&T. And they informed me that I owed them like $400 or $500 in bills," Natalie recalls.

But the con game was just beginning: Esther got a driver's license in Natalie's name and proceeded to live as Natalie. Esther left Seattle in 2000, and spent much of the next two years traveling cross-country in a car and sleeping in cheap hotels. But despite her life of vagrancy and petty crime, part of Esther was still searching for a path to success and for a place where she truly belonged.

Brandy Olson met "Natalie" in 2001. But the woman Brandy met didn't look much like the overweight check forger from Montana: she’d slimmed down and had some cosmetic surgery.

Brandy says "Natalie" always had plenty of money, and a strange explanation of where it came from. "She had a very well paying job as a professional chess player she said," Olson tells Van Sant. "She told us that the prizes if you won a tournament were pretty substantial. Upwards of $10,000."

Det. Campbell believes Esther's chess career was a lie, a brilliant cover for some kind of criminal enterprise. He says nobody he had interviewed had ever seen Esther play in a chess tournament.

There were other mysteries: Brandy once saw "Natalie" use a credit card with the name "Elizabeth Reed." When asked about it, Brandy says "Natalie" told her, "Oh, that's the name I play chess under."

Still, Brandy and "Natalie" became close friends, bonding over their mutual interest in competitive debate, Esther's old high school passion.

"Natalie" started showing up at Brandy's tournaments. And Brandy, a U.S. Army ROTC student, introduced Natalie to other debaters from elite military academies, like a midshipman from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, as well as a dashing Army recruit.

"He was a cadet at West Point that she dated for a while and got quite serious with," Olson remembers.

But while Esther, posing as "Natalie," was gallivanting about Annapolis and West Point, her sister Edna was agonizing over her disappearance. She feared Esther was dead.

The family filed a police report. As the months passed, their worry began to mix with anger. "It's the betrayal, and that she has left everybody hanging. That she doesn't even have the consideration to call and say, 'I truly am okay,'" Edna explains.

In fact, Esther was more than okay. By the fall of 2002, she had settled in California, taking classes - and debating - at California State University, Fullerton.
(CBS) As an adjunct student, Esther didn't need a transcript to be admitted. But she made another curious move, switching her name from Natalie Fisher to Natalie Bowman.

"She had told me that her name was Natalie Fisher and she discovered that she was adopted," remembers Esther’s roommate, medical student Bita Shaghagi. "When she found her biological parents and their last name was Bowman, which is why she told me that she was going by Bowman."

Bita found Esther aloof at first. But their relationship blossomed when Bita revealed that her mother had died of cancer, just like Esther's.

In time, they became as close as sisters. Bita says "Natalie" was everything you'd want in a friend. "She was great to talk to. Very good listener. I just miss her…I really love my friend."

Esther seemed to have found a place that was right for her at Cal State: she took her studies seriously and excelled on the debate team. But in the spring of 2003, Esther surprisingly retreated, leaving Cal State and going back on the road to make more mystery money.

"And what was she doing in that time?" Van Sant asks Bita.

"We assumed that she was playing chess. That's what she told us, that she was traveling around playing chess tournaments," Bita explains.

Bita and Esther remained friends but later that year, Esther told Bita she had to change her name again. Her story this time? She claimed she was being stalked by a family member.

The new name would be "Brooke Henson." A new stage of Esther’s strange game was about to begin.

"How does Esther Reed find Brooke Henson's name to begin with?" Van Sant asks Det. Campbell.

"It’s not hard to find Brooke Henson's name," the detective replies. "You can go look through missing persons Web sites, find somebody you look like. That person's been missing for seven or eight years. They're probably dead. They're not using their identity. I think I'll help myself to it."

The elegance of Esther's game has piqued Campbell's interest. He wonders if she's connected to Brooke's disappearance. Campbell says he'd like to catch her. "Technically, she is a suspect until we can clear her," he explains.

48 Hours also wanted to find Esther to learn how someone can stay underground in a post-9/11 world. We hired private investigator Steven Rambam, a specialist in missing person's cases who has hunted everyone from deadbeat dads to fugitive Nazis.

Rambam first headed to Esther's last known address, the Manhattan apartment where she was living as Brooke Henson.

When Esther fled in 2006, her landlord photographed her abandoned belongings. Most have been discarded, but Rambam recovered one crucial box - a treasure trove of documents from Esther's life as Brooke.

Starting with these documents, Rambam traced Esther's past movements, identities, and romances.

Might one of these former flames know where Esther is now? One of them is in Chicago, a former debater named Steven Donald.

Back in 2003, when Esther left Cal State Fullerton, she came here to visit Donald. Now, Rambam and a 48 Hours undercover crew visited him, too.

Rambam coaxed Donald into taking a walk. "Some of what Steven Donald tells me we’ve heard before. She’s a world class chess player. She makes over $100,000 a year at it. She’s a self described genius," Rambam explains.

Donald seemed nervous, telling Rambam Esther had a sketchy associate, known only as "Tony," who served as her protector and her muscle.

"She believed that Steven Donald owed her money. And told him that if he didn't give her the money, she'd have a guy by the name of Tony come and collect it," Rambam explains.

But Donald did not want to discuss any of that with 48 Hours, telling Van Sant on the street, "Peter, I already told your friend and pretty much anybody else who's asked that I don’t wish to speak to CBS News."

Donald did tell Van Sant that he is not in contact with Esther and that he doesn't know where she is.

Rambam also obtained Esther's cell phone records from 2003, which lead to another Chicago man named Steven Fouts.

"Steven Fouts is a convicted sexual predator, who admitted to being the owner of a cell phone that Esther Reed called repeatedly…and that repeatedly called Esther Reed," Rambam tells Van Sant.

Fouts claims his phone was borrowed by a friend called Wanda, but he offers no proof.
(CBS) We don’t know what Esther was really up to in Chicago, where she lived or how she made money. We do know that she kept in touch with Bita, and kept clinging to her college dreams.

"So she started studying for the SAT exam," Bita recalls. Bita believes that Esther did in fact take the exam.

The bizarre strategy of honest study and dishonest scheming paid off in 2004. Esther, as Brooke Henson, fulfilled her childhood dream by enrolling at the elite Harvard University -- its extension school, at least.

But after a single semester at Harvard, Esther outwitted another Ivy League university, conning her way into Columbia University's School of General Studies. Esther studied psychology and criminology, and briefly held a student job in the alumni office.

"Apparently she was in data processing. And she had access to every single alumni record," Ramban says.

"This was the classic wolf in the henhouse," Van Sant remarks.

"I think she’s the Tasmanian devil in the henhouse," Rambam says,

But aside from that job, or the imaginary chess winnings, Rambam discovered how Esther was really getting her cash: student loan fraud. That money, obtained with Brooke Henson's identity, bankrolled Esther's lifestyle in Manhattan.

"Is she paying back any of that money?" Van Sant asks.

"I don’t think she’s paid back a penny of it," Rambam says. "Esther Reed should go to jail. She needs to be locked up."

Fraudulent student loans, identity thefts, phony Social Security numbers. Could Esther be attempting something more sinister?

Rummaging through the leftovers of Esther's life as Brooke Henson, Columbia student, Steve Rambam struck gold. "This is Brooke Henson's certified birth certificate," he explains.

In 2005, Esther allegedly tricked South Carolina officials into mailing her that birth certificate. Rambam learned Esther then went to Vermont, where anyone can get a new driver's license in just one day.

"We know that she went to Vermont and got a Brooke Henson driver's license there, using the address of literally an empty field," Rambam explains.

Rambam thinks his target may also have been devising her next strategy, creating yet another identity. But when he visited the local courthouse, Rambam found no record of a name change. Esther stayed one move ahead.

But if Esther is hard to track in the real world, she's left a clearer trail in cyberspace. Rambam finds eBay purchases Esther made, a possible user identity on an online chess site, and a number of accounts with dating services.

Esther's page on the social networking site Facebook, created under the name Brooke Henson, lists a special friend from West Point, Kyle Brengel.

Who is he?

"Military academy candidate, military academy graduate," Rambam explains. "This is, again, somebody who, should he choose, probably can rise to the very top of the military."

Rambam obtained hundreds of pages of Internet messages between the two, written during Esther’s time at Columbia. The correspondence includes an intriguing exchange, where Esther tells her West Point friend that she'd love to be James Bond, and that being a spy would be a dream job.

Bita visited Esther in New York on July 4th, 2005. While the real Brooke Henson’s family was marking the sixth anniversary of her disappearance, the fake Brooke Henson was out on the town.

"We had a great time. And then we also took a ferry out to the Statue of Liberty," Bita remembers. "She didn’t like taking pictures, so I really had to talk her into even getting these pictures with me."

But Esther was much less shy in her exchanges with Brengel. In fact she’d begun making peculiar requests. "Things that they're working on in school, projects, which would be writing battle plans, things like that," Det. Campbell explains.

In one exchange, Esther wanted to know details about a training briefing for a military science class Brengel was taking. For Campbell, it all pointed to something far more serious than mere identity theft.

"So you're wondering if she's, potentially, a spy?" Van Sant asks.

"I mean that's a possibility, pretty good possibility," the detective replies.
(CBS) But FBI consultant Frank Abagnale doesn't buy that theory, and it’s important to note that none of Esther’s military friends, including Brengel, have been accused of any wrongdoing.

"I don't think Esther is into espionage. I think Esther is simply looking now to take on the role of a military officer," explains Abagnale, whose exploits as a young conman inspired the movie "Catch Me If You Can."

He spent years posing as a pilot, a lawyer and a doctor; then years more in prison. "This may be something that really intrigues her like the airline thing intrigued me," Abagnale explains.

And he says Esther’s not afraid to use sex to get what she wants, just like he did.

"Using sex could open doors for her, couldn't it?" Van Sant asks.

"Absolutely," Abagnale says. "'Cause she could get to know military people who can answer all these questions. What's my story? She is just laying the groundwork: to how do I take on this new role?"

It appears Esther was busy laying the groundwork for something during her last year in New York City. Credit card receipts indicate mysterious trips to Virginia, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Ohio. She ran several online credit checks, and bought a voice changer at a spy shop. Like a chess master, it appears Esther was thinking many moves ahead, all the while holding down a 3.22 grade point average at Columbia.

In 2006, when Esther ditched the New York cops pursuing the Brooke Henson lead, Bita was left to wonder. "Her numbers were disconnected," Bita remembers. "Pretty much most of her e-mail accounts were closed."

And she began to worry. "So I thought something bad happened to her, or she did something bad. I didn’t know," Bita says.

As Esther Reed crisscrosses America like the black queen on a chessboard, she suddenly finds herself facing her toughest opponent yet.

This September, a federal grand jury in South Carolina handed down an indictment charging Esther with felony identity theft and student loan fraud. With the full investigative powers of the Secret Service now deployed, it seemed likely that Esther would be apprehended quickly.

Private investigator Steven Rambam, eager to find Esther first, believes her best friend Bita will be the key to the case. "Bita has been in touch with her through all of her aliases, through all of her activities. I believe that if Bita wants to, Bita can give me Esther Reed," Rambam tells Van Sant.

But it turns out we know more about Esther than Bita does.

"She was not adopted. She was not a chess player, didn't play in any tournaments. None of that is true. None," Van Sant tells Bita.

"I'm still in shock," Bita says. "Really in shock about all of that. I don't think it's even quite hit me completely yet."

After months on the case, neither Rambam nor the Secret Service can say where Esther went after she fled New York.

"Just assuming anyone's identity is a lot easier today than when I did it," notes Frank Abagnale.

He is confident Esther will be tripped up eventually, not by some dogged investigator, but by the emotional strain of life on the run. "It was a very lonely life. And it was not a life I would ever wanna live over again," Abagnale explains.

"You think Esther, on any level, is a happy person today?" Van Sant asks.

"No. Not really happy. Someone who has no future, is living day by day, there's nothing permanent in her life. You can't exist like that," he says. "I hope Esther's listening to what I'm saying. And that I want Esther to know that she has talent. She has creativity. She is somebody. So, I hope Esther gives herself up, and does something positive with her life."

CBS) In the meantime, the hunt for Brooke Henson proceeds in an equally frustrating fashion.

Jon Campbell and his partners still chase down leads. "We followed all kinds of tips up there looking for the body. But we haven’t found anything we haven't been able to get that one person who was actually there and knows where the body is," he says.

The Henson family is still reeling from the torment of Esther's deception. "It's mind boggling. It's overwhelming," Brooke's aunt Lisa says.

But Lisa thinks Esther might - unintentionally - end up doing some good. "It's very good that we can get the attention," she says of the media coverage. "Because maybe some day, somebody will come forward from this."

Esther's sister Edna, left with little more than the trunk of mementos, still loves her, but she believes all the lies and frauds have dishonored the memory of their departed mother. "And she doesn’t like it when the older sisters and brothers say 'Shame on you.' But I'm sorry, we all are saying that," Edna explains. "That there is a right and a wrong."

We received one last tell-tale sign of Esther’s clouded moral judgment. Bita recalled that just months before they lost touch, Esther talked her into revealing her Social Security number over the phone.

Months later, Bita began noticing suspicious inquiries on her credit reports.

"Worse case scenario, Esther Reed is stealing your identity," Van Sant remarks.

"Yes, and I am apprehensive as to what may happen," Bita says.

That mystery lingers; the master manipulator has moved on.

Bita says Esther has broken her heart. Asked what she thinks of her, Bita says, "I think that she's lost. I think she's desperately lost. And she needs to be found."


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Federal authorities are chasing down new leads regarding Esther Reed's whereabouts.
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/11/29/...118_page6.shtml

monkalup - August 25, 2008 09:38 PM (GMT)
http://www.wyff4.com/news/16791196/detail.html

Missing Woman's Family Still Hurts, 9 Years Later
Alleged Imposter's Arrest Enhances Family's Sadness

POSTED: 2:47 pm EDT July 4, 2008
UPDATED: 4:36 pm EDT July 4, 2008

TRAVELERS REST, S.C. -- The July Fourth holiday marks the ninth anniversary of the disappearance of a Travelers Rest woman.

Brooke Henson has been missing since 1999. She is presumed dead.

Lisa Henson, Brooke's aunt, said, "In some ways it seems like it's been nine years and in some ways it does not."

She said the anniversary is always tough on the family.

"Everything seems to resurface -- all the emotion, all the talk around town, what might have happened to her," she said.

This year, a twist in the investigation makes the holiday weekend even more difficult for Henson's family. A woman who is accused of stealing Henson's identity was arrested in February and is awaiting trial.

A tip called into the TV show "America's Most Wanted" led investigators to a Chicago suburb where they arrested Ester Elizabeth Reed

Investigators said Reed spent more than two years posing as Henson, giving the family false hope that Brooke was still alive and in New York City.

Reed is charged with aggravated identity theft, wire fraud and mail fraud using Henson's name.

The federal indictment against Reed said that she pretended to be Henson beginning in 2003, when she applied for and received about $100,000 in student loans.

Investigators said that Reed had attended Columbia University as a graduate student for two years under Henson's name before investigators discovered she was not who she claimed to be.

She later applied for credit cards and a passport using Henson's identity, investigators said.

There is no evidence that Reed had anything to do with Henson's disappearance. And investigators said in some ways, it actually helped generate renewed interest in Brooke's case.

Henson, 20, had some friends over to her house on July 4, 1999. After they left, she sat out on her front porch to meet her parents when they arrived home from a trip from Charlotte, N.C.

That was the last time that anybody saw her.

Most of all, the family wants to know what actually happened to Brooke.

"I don't know if it'll be a life-threatening illness, a deathbed confession or what that will make somebody talk someday to hopefully get the guilt off their chest of what may have happened to Brooke," Lisa Henson said, "So the entire family can have some closure and be able to, you know, move forward with our lives."

A reward of more than $7,000 is available for information about Henson's disappearance. Anyone with a tip is asked to e-mail: justiceforbrooke@trpolice.com.

List of previous stories on Brooke available at: http://www.wyff4.com/news/16791196/detail.html

monkalup - August 25, 2008 09:39 PM (GMT)
http://www.wspa.com/spa/news/local/article...lers_rest/5633/

9th Anniversary: Brooke Henson Vanished From Travelers Rest

By Meghan Fisher

Published: July 4, 2008

Friday, July 4th marks the nine-year anniversary since an upstate woman went missing, and authorities still do not know what happened to her. Brooke Henson disappeared from Travelers Rest in 1999 and police are running out of leads. Henson was last seen walking along Henderson Road after an argument with her boyfriend. In 2006, investigators heard Henson was in New York as a student at Columbia University, but it was not her.

Police say it was a con-artist named Esther Reed, who had taken Henson’s and several other people’s identity. Reed faces a million dollar fine and 47 years behind bars if convicted. Police do not believe Reed had anything to do with Henson’s disappearance, but continue to question her to be sure.

monkalup - August 25, 2008 09:40 PM (GMT)
http://www.montanasnewsstation.com/Global/...p;nav=menu227_7

Trial won't be moved for woman accused of ID theft

Associated Press - July 8, 2008 11:04 AM ET

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A federal judge has declined to dismiss charges against a Montana woman accused of stealing a missing South Carolina woman's identity to get into an Ivy League school.

Esther Reed was indicted last year on federal charges that she used Brooke Henson's personal information to get an Ohio identification card and gain acceptance into Columbia University.

The judge also declined a motion by Reed's attorney that the trial be moved to Columbia or Atlanta. Ann Fitz had argued that Reed couldn't get a fair trial in Greenville because of local news coverage.

Authorities have said they do not think Reed, a native of Townsend, Mont., had anything to do with Henson's disappearance. She was last seen in 1999.

Prosecutors have said that Reed juggled six false identities and used Henson's name to get student loans when she began attending Columbia in 2004.



monkalup - August 25, 2008 09:41 PM (GMT)
http://www.wspa.com/spa/news/local/article...t_tuesday/7372/
Woman accused of stealing SC woman’s ID in court Tuesday

Associated Press
Published: August 19, 2008

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) - The Montana woman accused of stealing a missing South Carolina woman’s identity to get into an Ivy League school is expected in court this week.

Court records show Esther Reed is scheduled to have a pretrial hearing in federal court in Greenville on Tuesday.

Reed was indicted last year on charges that she used Brooke Henson’s identity to obtain false identification documents, take a high school equivalency test and get into Columbia University.

Investigators have said they do not think Reed had anything to do with the disappearance of Henson, who was last seen in 1999.

Prosecutors have said the Townsend, Mont., woman used Henson’s name to get student loans when she began attending Columbia University.

Jury selection in Reed’s case is scheduled to begin next month.

tatertot - February 11, 2009 12:14 AM (GMT)
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/articl...oXAwQwD968VKRO3

Defense seeks court mercy for Ivy League ID thief
By SUSANNE M. SCHAFER – 2 hours ago

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A Montana woman who stole a missing South Carolina's woman identity and used it to attend an Ivy League university was trying to hide from an emotionally abusive family and start a new life as someone else, according to a new court filing in the case.

Esther Elizabeth Reed suffers from mental disorders and depression and should be shown mercy when she is sentenced in federal court Wednesday, her attorneys said in the first detailed explanation of her actions that has been made public.

Reed, 30, pleaded guilty in August to federal fraud and identity theft charges and faces 47 years in prison. She had attended Columbia University in New York as a graduate student for two years under the name Brooke Henson, a Travelers Rest woman who has been missing since 1999. Investigators have said they don't think Reed was involved the disappearance.

Reed's disorders were brought on by a too-strict family upbringing, the separation and divorce of her parents, her mother's cancer death and "very neglectful, controlling and emotionally abusive" elder sister who "repeatedly told her she was evil," the documents say.

"The pressure of dealing with family pushed her to the edge. Her thoughts turned to the idea of escaping and starting a new life," Reed's attorneys, Anne Marie Fitz and Ryan Beasley, say in the document filed Friday. "Because of her mental state, she felt as though she had no other choice."

Investigators have said Reed was highly intelligent and used sophisticated scams to steal other identities to gain entrance to California State University at Fullerton, Harvard and Columbia, where she studied criminology and psychology.

Reed's father, Ernest Reed Jr., said two years ago that his daughter had changed greatly after her mother died in 1998 and he doesn't know if that's what caused her problems. A message left Tuesday at a listing for Ernest Reed was not immediately returned.

U.S. Attorney Walt Wilkins declined to comment on the court filing.

Reed's attorneys acknowledge their client knew her actions were wrong and unlawful, but said she didn't intend to hurt anyone or make money off another person's identity.

The defense asks that Reed's background be taken into account during sentencing and that because she would live with a friend in Pittsburgh upon being released, she serve her sentence in West Virginia or Kentucky. They also ask that Reed continue therapy.

Fitz, reached by telephone, declined comment further.

Police were tipped off to Reed last June, when she tried to get a job as a housekeeper in Manhattan using Henson's name, birthday and Social Security number.

When her prospective employer did a search, the first thing she found was a missing-persons Web site created by Henson's family and she contacted authorities.

Capt. John Gardner of the Travelers Rest police department said Henson's case is still open but they have not located her.

monkalup - February 12, 2009 01:18 AM (GMT)
Five years after Phylicia Thomas disappeared, her family waits for answers



Pauline Bailey sits next to a portrait of her daughter Phylicia Thomas, who has been missing since Feb. 11, 2004. Behind Bailey, from left, are Phylicia's siblings Wyatt Thomas, Jocelynn Thomas and Jesse Thomas at the family's home in Nanticoke. Lisa Massey / The Citizens' Voice

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BY BOB KALINOWSKI
STAFF WRITER
Published: Wednesday, February 11, 2009 9:07 AM EST
Pauline Bailey has investigated every tip, clue and rumor she has heard about her daughter’s disappearance for five agonizing years. She’s no closer to finding Phylicia than the day she got the phone call that the 22-year-old had vanished.

“We don’t really feel like we’ve gotten anywhere,” Bailey said recently.

Today marks five years since Bailey’s daughter, Phylicia Thomas, went missing, a grim milestone that highlights the torture Bailey and her six other children have lived with every day since Feb. 11, 2004.

“I never imagined we’d be here five years later. It’s a living hell,” Phylicia’s sister, Jocelynn, 24, said. “You can’t imagine someone you love being ripped right out of your life. We have no answers.”

Family has come to realize Phylicia isn’t coming home, believing she was killed around the time of her disappearance. They lament she’ll never get to see her six nieces and nephews who were born since she went missing, including Jocelynn’s 2-year-old daughter who was named Phylicia. They know they’ll never again hear her sing one of her favorite songs “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd.

For years, Phylicia’s family trudged through wooded areas near her home looking for her body. They’ve suffered through sleepless nights and the exhaustion has led to family division at times. One of her brothers had a mental breakdown over the ordeal.

“It’s awful. We’re just lost,” Bailey said. “Every now and then, we want to break down. But we’re never going to give up. We need to be able to say goodbye.”

Phylicia was last seen at the Lake Township home she shared with Ed Rudaski, her boyfriend. Rudaski, who did not return calls for this story, previously said that on the night Phylicia disappeared she came home from work and went outside to get a beer. He said he went back to sleep and never saw her again.

No one has.

On a recent night at Bailey’s home in Nanticoke, the family gathered to speak about their ongoing nightmare. Without finding Phylicia’s body, they say closure is impossible and the search for answers will go on.

“Until we find her, this is never going to end,” said her brother Jesse Thomas, 30.

Investigators say solving the case remains a priority. But they admit the case became tougher when a person of interest died. Steve Martin, who was repeatedly questioned by police and whose Ross Township home was searched in connection with the disappearance, hanged himself Aug. 10, 2005, in state prison while serving time for causing a fatal crash in Wilkes-Barre. Martin also was closely linked to the disappearance of another Lake Township girl, Jennifer Barziloski, 18, who disappeared in 2003 and was never found.

“There are two, separate investigations with a common denominator. The bottom line is he was the last person to be with her and also Jennifer Barziloski,” said Trooper Christopher King, the lead investigator based out of state police at Wyoming. “He left a lot of unanswered questions.”

King said the Phylicia Thomas case is worked on consistently and treated as aggressively as a homicide probe.

“We haven’t stopped investigating. It doesn’t get shelved and picked up once a year to update. We’ve been following up on leads since day one.”

While police have chased many leads to no avail, they are willing to listen to more. King urged anyone with information about the case to contact investigators.

“We’re hopeful that there are people out there who might be able to help. People, a lot of times, are afraid to come forward with information. As time passes, maybe they’ll have a change of heart. We’ll listen to anybody. The bottom line is what we’re looking for is closure for the family,” King said.

Anyone with information on the disappearance of Phylicia Thomas is asked to call state police at Wyoming at 697-2000.

bkalinowski@citizensvoice.com, 570-821-2055
http://www.citizensvoice.com/articles/2009...295027_fea1.txt

monkalup - November 23, 2009 02:05 AM (GMT)
For the real Brooke Henson¡¯s family, 2007 was a year of intense highs and lows. First, in the summer there was the news that Brooke was alive ¡ª which, in itself, was remarkable.

If you drive on a bright, cold winter¡¯s day along US 276, a wide empty road that climbs north from Travelers Rest, you see the looming contours of the Blue Ridge Mountains. There is woodland on both sides of the road, and the signs point out the way to ¡°bible camp¡± and the local carpenter. It all seems quaint and friendly.

But it was on this road, sometime after 2 am, on the weekend of July 4, 1999, that Brooke Henson, one of the town¡¯s prettier girls, vanished. She was last seen walking toward the Willis store, the only store in the center of the sprawling town, to buy a packet of cigarettes.

It was a Saturday night, and the 5¡ä4¡å brunette had earlier gotten into an argument with her boyfriend, Shaun Shirley, 30, a good-looking local contractor. He had had regular run-ins with the cops, according to his long rap sheet, which listed among other felonies, sexual assault of minors and lynching.

That evening, Brooke¡¯s parents ¡ª Martin, a former brick mason and Cathy, who worked at the local Eckerd¡¯s pharmacy ¡ª had returned from an Allman Brothers concert in Charlotte to find Brooke in tears on the porch. She was dressed in shorts, a tank-top, and flip flops, a silver watch on one wrist, a silver bracelet on the other. She told her father she was going to break up with Shirley and leave town. Her father wasn¡¯t sad. He, like many in the local community, was afraid of Shirley, who had acquired a reputation as someone not to mess with.

¡°I¡¯ll be back in five years,¡± Brooke told her father, according to Christie Metcalf, Brooke¡¯s aunt.

Metcalf came to talk to me in the Travelers Rest police station, a small nondescript building in the middle of town, where the less dangerous prisoners hang out around tables with the police officers. ¡°We just knew something wasn¡¯t right the next day,¡± Metcalf, a blonde in her fifties, says. ¡°But we couldn¡¯t get the police to take it seriously.¡± After all, Brooke had run away from home before. ¡°It was three weeks before the police treated it as a missing person¡¯s case and began a search mission and, by then, we¡¯d had rain, so what were the dogs going to find?¡±

The present generation of police admits their predecessors mishandled the case. ¡°The lieutenant¡­ should have turned the case over to the sheriff¡¯s office and never even taken a report. If he had done that, then homicide detectives would have been doing the interviews of the suspects and witnesses rather than patrol officers with zero experience in solving murder cases,¡± says Campbell.

The Hensons¡¯ marriage fell apart in the wake of their daughter¡¯s disappearance. Martin, ill with multiple sclerosis, became a recluse. For five years, he believed his daughter would return. Cathy quit her job and suffered from debilitating anxiety. When Campbell arranged for her to take a DNA blood test he had to carry her to the car.

In 2002, Christie Metcalf befriended a woman named Tammy Welch, who recommended they put up the website for Brooke. Tammy sought help from a medium, who had a vision of Brooke at the bottom of a well, with a yellow rope nearby. Now, every year on July 4th, the family holds a vigil at the police station, reminding officers of their failure. (Brooke is the only missing person in the area who has never been found)

Detective Campbell was more than a little frustrated.

Campbell is convinced Brooke was murdered ¡ª not near Travelers Rest, but up near River Falls, a beautiful spot where young people liked to party. The person Campbell really wanted to question was Shaun Shirley, who was hauled into police custody the weekend of Brooke¡¯s disappearance for ¡°abusing two minors.¡± Shirley swiftly ¡°got lawyered up¡± and had nothing to say, according to Campbell. He is now lives up near the mountains.

Campbell planned to re-interview another former boyfriend of Brooke¡¯s, whom she had dated before Shirley. ¡°There was a story she was planning to run away with him and that¡¯s why she was killed,¡± Campbell says. But he died of an overdose before Campbell got to him. ¡°It was ruled a suicide,¡± says Campbell. ¡°Some people think he was killed.¡±

Thus, last summer when Campbell got the call from New York, he was never likely to believe it. He might not have believed in retrospect how hard a slog it would be to piece together what happened to Esther.

Now he believes it unlikely the two women ever met. ¡°I think Esther was just looking for a new ID and came across Brooke¡¯s story online.¡±

Ironically, Brooke¡¯s biography only got pasted on the Internet in 2004, thanks to the zeal of Tammy Welch, and Esther¡¯s own story got put there too, on police computers, thanks to her sister Lori¡¯s bad dreams¡­

Tragically, Brooke Henson¡¯s family was euphoric when they first heard she had been found. ¡°We believed it because her father had said she would be back [after five years], because she had said that was what she was going to do,¡± says her aunt, Christy Metcalf. The family then learned there was an impostor out there pretending to be her.

¡°It was the most devastating feeling,¡± says Metcalf¡¯s friend, Tammy Welch.

A new detective took over the Brooke Henson investigation, following the promotion of Det. Jon Campbell from the local station to the state¡¯s Law Enforcement Division. Campbell said he would help out where he could.

The limelight gave the local police an incentive to retrace old steps, re-interview everyone ¡ª and to rebuild fences with the community. ¡°We are hoping with this attention we can find out what happened to Brooke,¡± says Christy Metcalf, adding that the family would like to talk to Esther Reed to discover what she knows, if anything, about Brooke Henson. At the time of this writing, no meeting ever took place. snip
http://surroundedme.com/esther-reed-a-identities-theft

monkalup - January 17, 2011 05:46 PM (GMT)
Brooke Henson


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

¡Missing Since: July 4, 1999 from Travelers Rest, South Carolina
¡Classification: Endangered Missing
¡Date Of Birth: April 17, 1979
¡Age: 20 years old
¡Height and Weight: 5'4; 104 pounds
¡Distinguishing Characteristics: Brown hair, brown eyes.
¡Brooke's ears are pierced.
¡She smoked Marlboro cigarettes at the time of her 1999 disappearance.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Brooke resided with her family in Travelers Rest, South Carolina in 1999. She hosted a party with several friends during the evening of July 3, 1999. Her parents returned from a concert in Charlotte, North Carolina at approximately 2:00 AM on July 4. She was sitting on their front porch at the time of their arrival. Brooke told them that she and her boyfriend had quarreled that evening. She then said she was going to walk to the Willis's store, two blocks away, to buy cigarettes. She never returned and has not been heard from again. Her friends and loved ones stated that it is extremely uncharacteristic of her to leave without warning. Her family said that authorities did not begin a search of the area until three weeks after her disappearance. Investigators reportedly believed that Brooke left of her own accord and expected her to return shortly afterwards. Her identity was stolen later by a young woman who used Brooke's credentials to attend University classes, among other things. But she never knew Brooke and has no information regarding Brooke's whereabouts.

If you have any information concerning this case, please contact: Travelers Rest Police Department 864-23-CRIME OR South Carolina Law Enforcement Division 803-737-9000

http://missing-and-unidentified.org/wikiwe...ke_leigh_henson




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