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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Charity Johnson: The 34-Year-Old Tenth Grader

     In March 2013, 30-year-old Tamica Lincoln, the shift manager at a McDonalds in the east Texas town of Longview, took pity on a fellow-employee who identified herself as 15-year-old Charity Stevens. Stevens said she was an orphan who had been abused by her now dead parents. The five-foot, three-hundred pound girl said she needed a place to live.

     Feeling sorry for this child, Tamica Lincoln took her in and became Charity's unofficial guardian. Lincoln fed the girl, and bought her clothing. In the fall of 2014, Lincoln enrolled Charity as a tenth grade student at the New Life Christian School in Longview. To explain why there were no academic transcripts from previous schools, Charity said she had been home schooled. At the New Life Christian School, Charity made friends and earned good grades.

     Charity's life as a teenager came to an abrupt end on May 13, 2014 when Tameca Lincoln learned that the girl she had been taking care of, at 34, was four years older than her. Charity Stevens, in reality, was Charity Anne Johnson. Instead of being born in November 1997, she had entered the world in 1980.

     Upon the shocking discovery, Lincoln called the school, then notified the police. She wanted Charity Johnson out of her house.

     Following a brief police investigation, a Gregg County prosecutor charged Johnson with the misdemeanor offense of failing to identify herself to a police officer. Police officers booked the impostor into the county jail in lieu of $500 bond. (I don't know why Johnson wasn't charged with theft by deception.) According to the police, Johnson does not have a criminal record.

     Tamica Lincoln, in speaking to a local television reporter, said, "I sympathized with her, and invited her into my home. I took her in as a child, did her hair, got her clothes and shoes."

     All along, this good samaritan had been caring for an impostor. This case falls squarely into the "no good dead goes unpunished" category.

     (Years ago, as an FBI agent, I interrogated a bank robber in Dallas who, as a 28-year-old former high school football star, re-enrolled as a tenth grader and once again starred on the football field. He was caught two years later in a playoff game by a coach on the opposing team who remembered him from his original playing days. The impostor-turned bank robber said the second time around in high school comprised the best days of his life. After that, it was all downhill.) 

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