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The Nation

Woman Arrested in Missing-Girl Fraud Was FBI Informant

Suspect who provided tips on alleged child pornographers was linked to an earlier hoax involving missing girls.

August 03, 2003|From Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. — The woman accused of calling an Indiana couple and falsely claiming to be their long-lost daughter had been an FBI informant in the past.

Donna L. Walker, who was being held by Kansas authorities in lieu of $100,000 bail, provided tips to authorities about alleged child pornographers.

"Periodically, she on her own initiative would call us, and we would evaluate the information," FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele said Saturday.

Steele said the information was usually for cases outside Portland, so it would be passed on to other police departments or FBI offices.

Walker was known to regularly place such calls to law enforcement agencies around the country, Steele said.

Federal court papers say an informant identified as "Donna" frequently posed as a young girl to lure child pornographers out of the shadows of the Internet and turn them over to authorities.

Donna Walker was later subpoenaed as a witness, and federal officials as well as Walker have acknowledged that she was the informant, the Portland Oregonian reported in Saturday's editions.

Federal officials also suspect that Walker, 35, set off a wild-goose chase that prompted investigators to search for two missing Michigan girls in Oregon in January 2002. They were eventually found in West Virginia, living with their mother and her husband, a convicted pedophile.

Confronted about the incident in later interviews with the Oregonian, Walker did not deny that she was behind the fraud. She blamed her lapses in judgment on multiple personality disorder.

"Like all criminal informants, you've got to separate the wheat from the chaff," FBI Special Agent Richard Davidson said Friday from Chico, Calif. "You know what issues she's got. But she does have some good information -- or has in the past."

Walker first came to the attention of the FBI in Oregon in January 2002.

On Jan. 27, dispatchers at a crisis hotline in Portland fielded a call from a man claiming he was thinking about killing himself and a teenage girl he was traveling with. A short time later, a girl's voice told emergency dispatchers that the man had kidnapped her in Michigan and that she was in a car at a McDonald's restaurant in Portland's southeast suburbs.

Sheriff's deputies searched several McDonald's sites but found nothing.

The girl told dispatchers she was 13 and gave the name of a 13-year-old Michigan girl who, along with her older sister, was reported missing from the Ypsilanti area. A similar call was placed the following day, and authorities again turned up nothing.

The girls were found the following day in West Virginia with their mother, who was charged with illegally removing and concealing them from their father.

The Michigan girls apparently were not in Oregon at the time of the searches, Steele said. Walker is thought to have been behind the hoax, she said.

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