Sherrill hoax suspect turns herself in
Woman who told Indiana family she was their missing daughter will appear in court on Friday.
â€¢ Sherrill hoax suspect turns herself in
â€¢ Dad told at last minute to keep hoax under wraps
By Fred Kellyfred.email@example.com
July 31, 2003
TOPEKA, Kan. -- The woman accused of crafting a deception that left an Indiana family heartbroken surrendered to police Thursday.
Donna L. Walker was driven to the Shawnee County Adult Detention Center by her attorney and will appear in court Friday. It is not known if she will waive extradition and agree to be returned to Indiana to face charges of identity deception and false reporting.
Investigators in Indiana and Kansas, meanwhile, continue to try to unravel the mysterious events surrounding this 35-year-old woman accused of pretending to be the long-lost Shannon Marie Sherrill, who was 6 years old when she disappeared from Thorntown in 1986.
Hearing that Walker had surrendered about 5 p.m., Mike Sherrill, Shannon's father, said: "That's great."
Sherrill has been tortured this week by the false hope police said Walker provided when she called him, pretending to be Shannon.
"She might be sorry," he said, "but sorry is not enough."
Dorothy Sherrill, Shannonâ€™s mother, said she was relieved to hear of Walkerâ€™s arrest and hoped she would be sent back to Indiana to â€œget everything she deserves.â€ Despite the hoax, she said, â€œIâ€™m not going to give up on my daughter.â€
Walker has reportedly been researching a book on the topic, working with a man in Toronto who has been paying her rent and her bills and confirmed his friendship with Walker in an interview with The Indianapolis Star.
Lionel Poizner told The Star the book was to focus on Walker's life story, because she has "been through some hard times." He did not elaborate.
Poizner also called the charges pending against Walker "preposterous."
"She is the sweetest person I have ever met," said Poizner. Of her current mental state, he added: "she is a little rattled."
It's unclear if Poizner is a book publisher; an Internet search, however, indicated he operated a Web-site design service catering to health care professionals.
Details of Walker's strange past are still emerging. They include allegations that she scammed people who trusted her, called in false reports of major crimes and reportedly has multiple personalities -- including one that allows her to sound like a man on the phone.
Indiana State Police held a news conference Wednesday to name Walker as the perpetrator of a cruel hoax on the Sherrill family. They said Walker called the family and media, posing not only as Shannon but as a female friend and also as a man, in an attempt to bolster her fraud.
The deception started to unravel, police said, when they were unable to verify the names and addresses the caller had provided.
From across the country, reports also are surfacing about Walker's obsession with pedophilia. An FBI agent in Portland, Oregon, told Indiana State Police that Walker had helped her in the past with "good information" regarding the investigation of child pornography and pedophilia.
Court records and interviews indicate Walker has had brushes with the law in California, Kansas, Virginia and Nebraska involving such offenses as making crank calls, reporting a false fire alarm, writing bad checks, making a bomb threat and using stolen credit cards to run up long-distance charges, according to an Indiana State Police affidavit.
In Urbandale, Iowa, an arrest warrant was issued for Walker last August for making a string of "weird calls" to police reporting to have seen people assaulted at gunpoint. Police never verified the incidents alleged in the telephone calls, said Urbandale Police Sgt. Dave Disney.
An initial hearing will be held in Topeka Friday at 11 a.m. on a warrant charging Walker with being a fugitive from justice.
Boone County (Ind.) Prosecutor Todd Meyer said the national media attention has sparked many calls to his office from all over the country from people who have their own strange tales to tell of Walker's past.
Meyer said sheriff's deputies will travel to Topeka to bring Walker back to Indiana as soon as possible.
Walker, her dark hair in a pony tail, was driven to the jail by attorney William Rork, a well-known defense lawyer in Topeka.
"She is confident that the facts will come out through the judicial process," said Rork, when asked if his client is innocent. "There are a lot of factors" in this case.
Walker was to spend the night in jail.
Barta said there is no evidence that Walker had fled Topeka or had been in hiding.
"I can't imagine the emotional hardship the parents of the missing child are going through," said Shawnee County Sheriff Richard Barta.
In Topeka, her landlord, Daniel Roberts said Walker moved into a one-bedroom apartment in April. She paid $450 a month in rent.
"She has always been flaky and high maintenance," said Roberts, "but there was nothing to give you the impression that she would do something like this."
Walker told Roberts she moved to Topeka from California because she wanted a quiet place to write her book. She reportedly did not have a car and got around by taxi. Neighbors said few people ever visited.
Roberts said Walker is diabetic and about a month ago her relatives in Georgia called him with concern that she was not taking her insulin properly. He then went to her apartment and found her lying unresponsive. He said he gave her food and medicine and she recovered.
Neighbors said Walker did not say much. She would always sit on a patio or porch in a plastic lawn chair and talk on a cell phone with her back to the street. A garbage bag next to the chair was half-full of Marlboro cigarette butts and a pink lighter Thursday afternoon.