October 16, 1986: Treva Throneberry Discharged From Mental Stay


WHAT HAPPENED?


Hey, a break from murder! This case kind of involves a disappearance, but more than anything, this is just a super weird, fascinating story that I wanted to write about.


Also, I wanted to note: I have truly no idea if she was discharged from her mental stay on the 16th, I only know it was October 1986. But I needed a story for the 16th, so here we are. Okay.


Treva Joyce Throneberry is an American woman who "disappeared" in her teens before spending the majority of her 20s pretending to be a teenager. She made a multitude of false claims, including sexual abuse and satanic rituals. She traveled the U.S., residing in foster homes or with any family who would take her in.


Treva was arrested in 2001 and charged with fraud and perjury after her made up identities came to light. Though some believe that Treva is mentally ill with no control over her actions, a various court-appointed psychologists deemed her mentally stable and said that she knew what she was doing. She served 2 years and 3 months after her conviction.

THE STORY OF TREVA THRONEBERRY


Vancouver Washington, 1997


A new girl showed up at Evergreen High School in 1997, wearing overalls, a T-shirt and pigtails. She acted childlike and spoke like a child, but it wasn't lost on her peers that she was a but more "full-figured" than other girls her age. She went by the name Brianna Stewart, a 16-year-old who had been living in Portland, Oregon, sleeping in youth shelters.


She began attending Vancouver's Glad Tidings Church, and she met a young couple who was willing to take her in. She told them that she was raised in Alabama, but her mother had been murdered when she was a child. She claimed she lived with her stepfather, but began hitchhiking to find her birth father and learn more about her past.


Electra Texas, 1985


Take it back 13 years to Electra Texas. Rumor spread around town that Treva Throneberry had gone to the police station, telling police that her father held a gun to her head and raped her, her mother laughing when she found out. The stunned police officer whisked Treva away from the house.


The town was shocked to hear that Carl Throneberry would do such a thing. A good country man, he was married to his wife, Patsy, and worked as a truck driver. The couple had 1 son and 4 daughters, Treva the youngest, but despite struggling to make ends meet, he always ensured his children were well-taken care of.


Patsy and Carl were shocked to hear the accusation, and insisted their daughter made up the whole story. Her sisters provided testimony that they believed their father was innocent.


In May of 1986, the year after her accusation, Treva went and saw her school counselor and calmly told her that she was thinking about jumping off a building to kill herself. She was handcuffed and taken to the hospital for her own safety. She cried often and rarely ate. Her parents asked her to admit she had lied about the rape, but she claimed they were liars and that they didn't love her.


Vancouver Washington, 1997


It is 1997 again, and Brianna Stewart was thrilled to be at Evergreen High School. She was a star English and wore the same thing everyday. Her pigtails were noted as a serious fashion faux pas for being a teen. When girls asked to hang out with her, she was awkward and seemed like she hadn't been around a lot of people.


She blended into the background at the school for most people, except Ken Dunn, a sophomore who was falling in love with Treva. They flirted in class and would take her on little dates in town. He was surprised by the amount of scripture she knew from the Bible.


She told Ken that she watched her stepfather stab her mother. She told him her stepfather made tapes of him and his friends raping her to sell on the black market. She said she became pregnant at age 11, and he pushed her down the stairs to force a miscarriage. She said she was fleeing from him, which is how she ended up here.


The 16-year-olds went to the school dance together. They danced the night away and exchanged "I love you's". "It was the perfect teenage romance," Ken recalled. They kissed for the first time that night.


Electra Texas, 1986


Back in 1986, Treva Throneberry was discharged in October, noted as no longer suicidal or severely depressed. Her parents decided to send her to Lena Pope Home, a treatment center for troubled teens. She graduated high school in June of 1987 at the age of 18.


One night, Treva visited her sisters, Carlene, Kim, and Sue. They told her that their father was still so torn up about what she had said and asked her to apologize. But she refused. But they knew something had happened to her, because it had happened to them too. Their father's older brother, a heavy drinker named Billy Ray. Carlene, Kim, and Sue didn't speak out against their abuse at the hands of Billy Ray until long after he died.


But it affected them. All 3 girls worked double shifts at waitressing jobs to be out of the house. Sue ran away once. All 3 girls married young so they could move into their own homes. All of them admitted that Treva was their uncle's "favorite" and she got the worst of it.


After Treva visited her sisters, she left. She didn't go to college. She moved around a bit and held some jobs. Then, she began living on the streets. And then, everyone lost track of her. She was gone.


"We figured that she wanted to get away, to get a new start," Sue said when admitting they didn't really look for her. "At least that's what we hoped she was doing. That she was alive somewhere, doing her best."


Vancouver Washington, 1998


Brianna Stewart had become a popular junior at her school. Kids had learned of her tragic back story and her brave stance against her stepfather. They didn't tease her for her overalls and pigtails. They supported her when she said she wanted to become a lawyer to help children.


But she was beginning to struggle. Her mad dash out of her life left her without a Social Security card, and so she couldn't get a driver's license, apply for college, or find a job. She needed some form of ID to get her social security card. But her haziness about her past made it impossible to track down the documents she would need.


A variety of people were willing to help her. They knew of her story and wanted to help ensure she succeeded in life. As people began to dig into her life, however, and started coming up with more questions than answers. For instance, she had visited a dentist who noticed her wisdom teeth were removed with scars healed, which was unusual for a 16-year-old. When Ken asked if there was any truth to the dentist's concerns, Brianna became furious with him.


At this point, Brianna was living with the Gambetta family, who's son was close with Ken. Ken was devastated with Brianna accused Mr. Gambetta, of spying on her while she was changing. They took her in and treated like a daughter. The accusations were groundless, and for the first time, Ken believed that there was some cracks in his beloved Brianna's story.


Various places, 1990s


Treva hadn't turned back up, and her parents were trying to determine where their child had gone.


While searching for her in 1992, they found one Keili T. Throneberry Smitt who was living with a family she met at church in Corvallis, Oregon. Keili said she was hiding from her father, and that he had found her once, forced her into his car, and raped her. Keili disappeared.


In 1994, one Cara Leanna Davis showed up in Coeur d'Alene Idaho, claiming her mother had been murdered and her father had been a member of a satanic cult where she was repeatedly raped. She disappeared. Later that year, one Kara Williams showed up in Dallas, claiming that she had been born into a satanic cult and that her mother had been murdered by her father, who raped her.


Kara's social worker, Susanne Arnold, wanted to find who had hurt her. But she would never expect the call she received in September of 1995. "Susanne, I think Kara is actually a 26-year-old woman named Treva Throneberry."


Kara was confronted with her true identity, but she so adamantly denied she was anyone besides Kara Williams. But then, Kara disappeared.


In 1996, 16-year-old Emily Kharra Williams turned up in Asheville, North Carolina, running from a Texas cult. A few months later, Stephanie Williams showed up in Altoona, Pennsylvania, running from her father's child pornography ring. A social worker was able to track her back to Susanne Arnold, and her true identity.


She was arrested for using a false identification. While in holding, Carl called. "Hi baby, it's your daddy," he said. She refused to admit she knew him or her mother. After her release, she left again.


Treva set up roots in at least 18 different places with 18 different aliases. She moved to Louisiana, New Jersey and Ohio, always carrying her teddy bear and a Bible, always starting anew at a high school, and always claiming she was running from something terrible.


Vancouver Washington, 2000


Brianna Stewart graduated high school in June of 2000. Ken and Brianna broke up after the camera incident, but they stayed friends and he wished her well after graduation.


Later that summer, there was a break in Brianna's document case and there was a court hearing scheduled for March 2001 where she could get her social security card. But that would never happen.


On March 22, 2001, a Vancouver police officer arrested Brianna on charges of theft and perjury. It turned out she was 31-year-old Treva Throneberry and had spent the last 13 years of her life receiving free foster care and public education across the nation.


Ken's mother called him at his new job in Disney World to tell him the news, that he had gone to the homecoming dance with a woman 12 years older than him.


Treva was charged with fraud, among other charges related to her ever-changing identity for the last 13 years.


Treva defended herself in her trial. The defense attorney was merciless, angered by her lies and her attempt to pass off her state-hopping as mental illness. "If you feel sorry for her, we don't give a damn about your tears," he said.


Treva's closing argument was a handwritten speech from a notebook where she just said she was Brianna Stewart and that was that. She was quickly found guilty and sentenced to 3 years in prison.


She got out of prison after serving 2 years and 3 months. Since, she has continued to jump through aliases, refusing to acknowledge who she is. In 2016, she showed up as Brianna Kenzie and she worked at a hotel. She accused a local man of sexually assaulting her, and she was fired after her prior record was learned.


This case is.... so weird to me. First off, what kind of person wants to go back to high school? 18 times?! I do believe that somewhere inside of her, Treva knows who she is. But perhaps at this point it is just easier to change on a dime. She did deal with trauma as a child, and maybe this life is just easier for her to stomach. Away from the town and the people she knew during such a traumatic period of her life.


But at the same time... she has accused real people of sexual assault and rape. Though many of her stories feature fictional people, she accused her father of rape, accused a man who took her into his home of peeping on her, and most certainly took away important police and social services resources from people who actually needed it.


It is baffling to me that a 31-year-old was able to pass herself off as a high schooler, and was willing to carry on a relationship with a 16-year-old boy during that time. Honestly, I do feel bad that she was assaulted... but parading as a teen while you're a fully grown adult is predatory behavior. I only hope that she doesn't continue trying to get with people who are the age she wants to convince herself she is.


Anyway, I hope you enjoyed! No one died and no one actually disappeared... this is just a wild, captivating story that speaks to the insanity of the human mind: either intentionally, or subconsciously.

REFERENCES:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treva_Throneberry

https://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/the-day-treva-throneberry-disappeared/



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