December 3, 2023

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Hawaii couple accused of using dead Texas infants’ identities

The couple obtained fake passports, DOD identity and social security cards, according to federal prosecutors.

DALLAS — A Hawaii couple is accused of stealing the identities of dead Texas babies to obtain fake passports, DOD identity and social security cards, according to federal prosecutors.

A criminal complaint filed in Hawaii federal court says Walter Primrose and Gwynn Morrison assumed the identities of Bobby Edward Fort and Julie Lyn Montague, respectively. Both babies died in Texas in the ’60s. 

A federal court filing says Primrose even wiggled his way into the Coast Guard, where he held a secret clearance as a defense contractor and as an avionics electrical technician.

Former director of the CIA Porter Goss said investigators need to first determine a motive.

“Whether it’s an economic matter or criminal matter of fraud, or whether there’s some national security involved,” Goss said. 

The criminal complaint does not explicitly say why the married couple used stolen identities. But there are clues. 

In 1987, their Nacogdoches home was “foreclosed by the bank,” according to a court document. That’s the same year the couple renamed and remade themselves, prosecutors alleged.

Federal agents also seized photographs from the couple’s home in Hawaii “wearing what have been identified as KGB uniforms.”

Goss said that alone is not enough evidence to suggest the pair were acting as Russian spies. But, he said, you also can’t rule it out. 

“You never want to dismiss lightly the potential of a sleeper agent,” Goss told WFAA.

The couple was arrested on July 22 in Kapolei, Hawaii. Each face a federal conspiracy charge, false statement on a passport application and aggravated identity theft.

It’s painful for the family of Julie Lyn Montague, the baby girl who died in Texas in 1968, whose identity prosecutors say Morrison stole. WFAA spoke to her 92-year-old father over the phone.

“I tell you what, I believe the world is full of crooks,” John Montague said. “Why use somebody name that’s already passed away, and bring that back? Then the family finds out… you always want them to rest in peace.”

Montague has two other daughters and son. His daughter, Tonda, said she was in complete shock when she saw her late sister’s name in the news.

“To see a photo of a person who has your sister’s name in, in a KGB uniform, it’s just wow. Crazy,” Ferguson said.

The criminal complaint does not say how the couple picked the identities they used, but noted identity thieves often go to cemeteries and look for graves with ages close to their own.

Prosecutors noted the two babies whose identities were stolen were buried only 14 miles apart in Marble Falls and Burnet, Texas.

That complaint also says the couple went to high school together in Port Lavaca, Texas, and attended Stephen F. Austin University together, too.

Another federal court filing says Morrison, sometime ago, lived in Romania, while that country was within the Communist bloc, and that Primrose did not report several trips to Canada, while he did report other foreign travel.

Prosecutors are expected to unveil additional evidence at a hearing Thursday.

Attorneys for Primrose and Morrison said they have no comment when WFAA reached out.