FBI search for Erica - bad boy of America

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The Independent Online
Erica has been a bad girl. The FBI are looking for her all over the United States.

So are her husbands. (All four of them). The US Army wouldn't mind talking to her either. Because, a long time ago, she was also a bad boy.

Confused? You have a right to be. The entire life of Erica Sandra Kay, forty-seven years old and of uncertain address, is confused. And in its wake is, well, much confusion.

The FBI this week outlined its case against her as pithily as possible. Erica is wanted on various charges alleging that she is - take a deep breath - a bigamist, transsexual, armed forces-deserting fraudster.

Rewind to 1968, when a soldier named Eddie James Mundell vanished from the Army's Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. That deals with the desertion part. Two years later Eddie became Erica thanks to a sex change operation.

The next sighting of Erica, according to an FBI agent named Tim Coakely, was in March 1996. She was huddled in a telephone box in a bus station in Atlanta, Georgia, claiming she was fleeing a bad marriage and a violent husband.

"She suckered all of us," says Ammadell Whitsell, who is from Atlanta, who was among those who took her in. "She said she was a battered wife".

Sympathy for Erica turned to romance when Whitsell's nephew, John Bowers, 50, married her in October last year. It was an all-white church affair sealed with a "great big diamond ring". But Erica apparently still had not one but two husbands. One in Ellijay, Georgia, and another in Ohio.

"She saw he had a house, land and a vehicle," laments Whitsell. "She went to our church. We were just taken in by her. She planted a garden out back and even canned the food. She infiltrated our family."

Mr Bowers did not wise up until too late. Within two months, Erica had left the nuptial nest.

When she went she took with her Bowers' new Mercury Mountainer four-wheel- drive, his gold watch and $90,000 borrowed for home improvement.

Her next victim, according to the FBI, was Ralph Caruso, 68, of St Petersburg, Florida. Erica met Caruso, who had just lost his wife of 25 years to cancer, at a casino in Biloxi, Mississippi last New Year's Eve. They exchanged vows in Las Vegas last April.

The pairing with Caruso started out well too. "She convinced him that she was a successful interior designer," said agent Coakley. "They set up shop in St Petersburg and she started running up bills. She told him she was pregnant. They even went so far as to put a nursery in the house."

It was in October, just at the time when the FBI was catching up with her, that Erica vanished from that marriage also. True to form, she took the family car with her, this time a Cadillac.

"We were probably about four days too late in finding out where she was," Coakley said. "Unfortunately, the gentleman [Caruso] didn't know she was wanted. He only called us after she was gone."

Now the FBI has put out a telephone number for anyone to call with information about the mysterious Erica. Where is she, for one? And, more worryingly, has she snared some hapless man as husband number five?