Society

Texas Woman's Real Identity Still Unknown Three Years After Suicide

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Federal investigators are still trying to figure out who a woman going by Lori Kennedy was, as she spent decades using stolen identities for an unknown reason.

Kennedy killed herself three years ago in her family's driveway. Joseph Velling, a social security investigator, was working under cover to find out the real identity of Lori Erica Ruff, who was Lori Erica Kennedy before she married into a Texas family in 2004. Before that, she went by Becky Sue Turner.

She was able to obtain an identity as Becky Sue after she requested a birth certificate of a long-deceased child and used it to obtain a drivers license. 

"She created a false identity for the sole purpose of getting lost in America," Velling said. "It must have been for some horrific reason…either she was running away from a crime or an abusive family or relationship."

"She wanted a complete break from her past. By changing her name, she created a clean identity - a person with no past."

In July 1988, Becky Sue Turner legally changed her name to Lori Erica Kennedy. A few days later, she applied for and received a Social Security number. 

She obtained a Texas driver's license in 1989 and listed her age as 19. She then enrolled at Dallas Community College in 1990 and graduated from the University of Texas in 1997.

When she married Jon Blakely Ruff in 2004, the two moved to Leonard, Texas. She was a private person, especially around her in-laws.

"When people made small talk with her - like asking where she went to high school - she would say, 'It's none of your business.' And she was aggressive about it," Velling said. "That created a lot of heartburn for the family."

She had a simple story about her past: she was the daughter of a failed stockbroker and his wife, both now dead.

Eventually, she gave birth to a daughter in 2008. She told doctors in 2005 that she was 35, but Velling doesn't believe she was that young.

"She was much older than that," he said. "I think she was born sometime between 1960 and 1968."

She and her husband separated due to her inability to get along with his family, but on Christmas Eve in 2010, she pulled into the family home and shot herself. She left behind an 11-page suicide note but did not leave a clue that she led a secret life.

Her husband eventually found out she had hidden her identity when he looked in a safebox which she told him never to touch. In it was paperwork showing the name change and application for the Social Security number.

Velling hopes that DNA taken from her body might help identify her.

Mainly, Velling wants to find out her identity because he believes she used an "identity broker," as the crime was so complex.

"This was very sophisticated," he said. "And she did it all pre-Internet. She may have done this on her own, but it's possible she sought out one of these identity brokers."

Sources: Fox, Seattle Times