HAWAII, USA — A former Texas couple accused of living for three decades under the identities of two dead infants and tied to Russian intelligence had an invisible ink kit, maps of military bases and told family members they were in the witness protection program, a prosecutor said Thursday.
The prosecutor told this to a federal judge during a hearing to determine if the husband should be held pending trial.
The judge found that Walter Glenn Primrose, 66, was a flight risk and ordered him to remain in federal custody on three charges related to identity theft. Primrose and his wife Gwynn Darle Morrison face up to 17 years in prison if convicted on all charges, a prosecutor said.
The couple is accused of assuming the identities of Bobby Edward Fort, who was born in Dallas in 1967 and died that same year and is buried in Marble Falls, and Julie Lyn Montague, who was born, died and buried in 1968 in Burnet.
Neither is charged with espionage, but in court documents released this week, prosecutors included Polaroid photographs from the 1980s of both Primrose and Morrison in what are believed to be KGB uniforms.
“I know there’s been a lot of speculation and innuendo out there in the media about Mr. Primrose,” defense attorney Craig Jerome told a Hawaii judge during a telephone hearing Thursday. “The government has provided no evidence to support that speculation and innuendo."
Prosecutor Wayne Myers told the judge Thursday that “according to witness interviews, the defendants had a longstanding interest in espionage and expressed anti-government and anti-military sentiments.”
Court documents say that the pair attended Calhoun High School in Port Lavaca, Tx., from 1970 to 1973. They both also attended Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches from 1976 to 1979.
They were married Aug. 19, 1980, in Nacogdoches and bought a home there in 1981.
Myers said Thursday that in the 1980s, both left Texas “suddenly.”
“They reportedly told one family member that they were entering the witness protection program,” Myers told the judge. “They gave that family member keys to their house and told the family member take anything that they wanted."
The house was eventually foreclosed on by the bank, he said.
Myers said Morrison used her real name to open a post office box and told family to only use that to communicate with her. Myers said that according to witness interviews, she lived in Romania in the 1980s when it was part of the Communist bloc.
The couple told people that they changed names for “legal and financial reasons,” Myers said, and that they remarried under the new names, he said.
From 1994 to 2016, Myers said Primrose served in the U.S. Coast Guard as Bobby Fort. After the Coast Guard, Primrose worked for a Department of Defense contractor, Myers said. In both roles, Myers said Primrose had access to classified military information.
Prosecutors have provided no evidence, however, that Primrose or Morrison divulged any government secrets to anyone.
The Polaroids found in the couple’s home in Hawaii showing both in KGB uniforms appear to be authentic, Myers said.
Myers said that in addition to the photos, law enforcement also discovered:
- an invisible ink kit
- documents that contain coded language
- maps showing military bases
- correspondence between the defendants referencing an associate that believed Primrose may have joined the C.I.A. “or became a terrorist in Bolivia"
- additional correspondence that appears to reference other aliases used by the couple
Myers said agents also found receipts of undisclosed foreign travel.
Also, while agents were executing a search warrant, Myers said while in a room together the couple were recorded "making references to things consistent with espionage." He did not elaborate.
Primrose “may have some troubling foreign connections” and may use those to leave the country, Myers told the judge.
He said the government believes Primrose has a passport from 1999 in his real name, but it hasn’t been found. Myers also said Primrose has “significant financial assets” which could also aid in him fleeing the United States to avoid prosecution.
“The weight of the evidence warrants detention,” Myers said.
“The government has said a lot of things, but I haven’t seen any evidence of anything,” defense attorney Jerome said following Myers’ presentation.
The judge sided with the prosecution and ordered Primrose held pending trial.
A hearing to determine if Morrison will also be held pending trial is set for Tuesday in Hawaii.