When Jon Blakely “Blake” Ruff met attractive brunette Lori Kennedy from Arizona, she told him that she didn’t like to discuss the past. She said that she had lost her family and it upset her to speak about them. Blake trusted her and asked no questions…he was a quiet and agreeable man whose closest companion before meeting Lori was his twin brother, David. Blake’s family tried to get close to Lori but she put up a wall. Any personal questions were met with hostility. Blake’s family wanted to put a marriage announcement in the local paper but Lori refused. In the end, Blake and Lori ran off and married in a small church outside of Dallas…the only person in attendance was the preacher.
The new couple bought a house on 2 acres of land in the village of Leonard, Texas- 125 miles from Blake’s family. According to neighbours, Blake and Lori kept to themselves and lived in their own bubble. In the evenings, Lori would often walk the perimeter of her property and avoid eye contact with the neighbours. According to her husband, Lori wanted a child more than anything. The couple suffered through several miscarriages and eventually successfully used IVF treatment for Lori to conceive a daughter. Blake now thinks that Lori may have been older than she claimed, and that may have been the reason it was so hard for Lori to conceive.
Once their daughter was born, Lori’s behaviour became increasingly strange and she continued to distance herself from Blake’s family; she didn’t want her daughter to spend time with her grandparents even though they had 8 other happy, healthy grandchildren. For Blake, who was very close to his family, the strain became unbearable. Within 5 years the marriage had fallen apart. Blake and Lori tried marriage counselling at the church to no avail. According to the pastor who was counselling the couple, during the sessions Lori would become obsessed with her hands – fiddling with them, holding them up and staring at them. She would speak in a loop, repeating what was wrong with her and how she would fix things. Then she’s start again and repeat what she’d already said. Blake, on the other hand, brought his twin brother to the sessions and sat quietly while his brother spoke on his behalf- almost like a translator. In the summer of 2010, Blake asked for the divorce and moved in with his parents.
Lori started to come undone.
The neighbours started to notice that Lori and her daughter appeared very thin and that Lori was also starting to seem somewhat incoherent.
Meanwhile, she made it extremely difficult for Blake to exchange custody of their daughter, sent threatening emails to his family, and eventually stole their house keys…leading the Ruffs to obtain a “cease and desist” order against her.
On Christmas Eve, 2010, Blake’s dad, Jon Ruff, noticed Lori’s car idling in the driveway. He called the police, who immediately discovered that Lori had shot herself. She had also left behind an 11 page letter addressed to “my wonderful husband” and another letter for her daughter, to be opened on her 18th birthday. The police report stated that the letters contained “ramblings from a clearly disturbed person”.
After Lori’s funeral, Blake’s brother-in-law and a few other family members drove to Leonard. They wanted to search Lori’s house and get some answers – they had always felt that she was hiding something. However, they had so little trust in her that they phoned the deputy sheriff to come and meet them at Lori’s house….they were genuinely worried that Lori might have booby trapped the house. What they found instead was the home of someone who had given up the will to live: the baby’s bed was left soiled, and there were unwashed dishes, piles of dirty laundry, shredded documents and full trash bags everywhere.
Blake had told them where to look: the attic. He knew that there were boxes that Lori didn’t want him to touch. In keeping with his obedient character, he didn’t. But now was the time to start searching for answers, and it didn’t take Miles Ruff long to find a strongbox labelled “crafts”. Upon smashing that box open, he discovered a court document from 1988 showing she had changed her name. Before she was Lori, she was Becky Sue Turner.
Blake’s family felt triumphant – they finally knew who Lori truly was! However, their jubilation did not last long. They asked a private investigator to look into Becky Sue’s past…and ended up with even more questions. It turned out that the real Becky Sue Turner was a 2 year old girl who had died in a house fire, in 1971.
It took “Lori” 2 months of time during 1988 to take over the identity of someone she wasn’t. First, she got a copy of Becky Sue Turner’s birth certificate from Bakersfield ,California (much easier to do in 1988). Investigators were quick to notice that Becky Sue Turner had died in a different state to the one in which she was born…a fact that meant “Lori” must have known what she was doing as it complicates a database search.
Next, she got an Idaho State Identity card in Boise which claimed she was 18 years old.
After getting that ID, she travelled to Dallas to change her name, legally, to “Lori Erika Kennedy”.
Finally, the most important step: she got a Social Security card, the holy grail of identity theft.
With a clean slate and a new name, Lori got into college. She graduated from the University of Texas in Arlington with a business degree.
Investigators have looked into every item that was found in the strongbox: a letter of reference from an employer and a landlord. Some scribbles that read: North Hollywood Police. 402 months. Ben Perkins, an attorney.
The references were bogus and signed by someone who never existed. The lawyer had never heard of a Lori Kennedy or a Becky Sue Turner.
Lori’s photos were run through every facial-recognition database and came up blank. Her fingerprints were sent both to the FBI and Homeland Security but didn’t match anyone in their files. Investigators looked through Lori’s medical records and discovered that she had breast implants. They thought that might be a good lead seeing as implants have serial numbers which lead to doctors’ records -but it turned out that Lori’s implants were new- and she’s been cremated, anyway. Samples of Lori’s DNA have been sent to various databases including Missing Persons and a Genealogy website – without finding any match. Becky Sue Turner’s mother and father were both interviewed and neither knew who the person was who stole their daughter’s ID.
The trail is now dead. However, the Ruff family still believes that someone will eventually come forward…after all, Lori went to such great pains to remain off the radar that someone, somewhere – must know something.