TOPEKA, Kan. – Donna Lynette Walker (search), accused of pretending to be the missing child of an Indiana couple, was ordered held on $100,000 bond Friday.
In setting bail, Shawnee County District Judge Thomas Conklin (search) spoke of Walker's past mental health problems, and said he considered her a flight risk.
He also said that if she were to make bond, she wouldn't be able to leave the Topeka area — and wouldn't have access to telephones.
Conklin said Walker, 35, has recently been under psychiatric and psychological care, including three visits this year to the state mental hospital. He also said she has a least one conviction on record for creating a false alarm.
"She's in my opinion, a potential flight risk," he said.
Walker's attorney, Billy Rork, requested a lower bond on grounds that Walker is on medical disability and couldn't afford the bond amount. He also noted that she voluntarily turned herself in. Conklin refused the request.
The judge also asked that Walker sign a release for her medical records to be turned over to the count.
Walker, clad in a dark blue jumpsuit and shackled at the arms and legs, sat silently in the courtroom as her lawyer spoke on her behalf. Her next court appearance was set for 10 a.m. Aug. 6.
Authorities allege that Walker called the parents of Shannon Marie Sherrill (search) and said she might be their daughter. Investigators grew suspicious when the caller refused to give her phone number.
Shannon disappeared at the age of 6 in 1986 while playing outside her family's Indiana home.
Walker, who surrendered to police in Kansas Thursday, has been charged with identity deception and false reporting for committing what police called a "cruel hoax."
"My only intention was to help the investigation, and certainly not hinder it in any way," Walker said in a TV interview Thursday.
Indiana authorities are seeking her extradition. Rork said the suspect would not waive extradition from Kansas to Indiana.
Dorothy Sherrill, Shannon's mother, said she was relieved to hear of Walker's arrest and hoped she would be sent back to Indiana to "get everything she deserves." Despite the alleged hoax, she said, "I'm not going to give up on my daughter."
Authorities said that last weekend, Walker called the girl's parents and claimed she was their daughter. Sherrill's family members were crushed, and her father reduced to tears, when they learned Wednesday that it was a lie.
On Friday, Rork said Walker contacted authorities because she was not certain any criminal activity had taken place.
"I think in her mind, I'm convinced, that she believes that she has information," Rork said. "She's holding up and is very concerned about the harm to the family and the charges and what she does now."
Rork wouldn't elaborate on Walker's mental health, saying, "That will all come out when I speak in court."
Walker refused to talk to reporters who found her before she turned herself in, but asserted her contacts with the Sherrill family were meant to be helpful. "I'm just very confident that everything will come out in the end, in the correct way," she said.
Authorities hope Walker's arrest will shed light on her motivation for the alleged hoax.
"We don't think it was financial," said Indiana State Police 1st Sgt. Dave Bursten. "There was never any kind of request for money."
Walker's friends say that since she was a child, she has made crank calls in disguised voices, concocted hard-luck stories and conned people out of money.
Investigators said Walker may have found details about the Sherrill case on the Internet, which contains several Web sites devoted to the girl's disappearance.
Walker continued the ruse for days, allegedly calling Shannon's family, police and the news media to perpetuate the story — often disguising her voice and posing as at least two other people. Investigators believe she even pretended to be the husband of the missing girl.
Court records and interviews indicate she has had brushes with the law in California, Kansas, Virginia and Nebraska. The offenses include making crank calls, reporting a false fire alarm, writing bad checks, making a bomb threat and using stolen credit cards to run up long-distance charges, according to an Indiana State Police affidavit.
In Urbandale, Iowa, an arrest warrant was issued for Walker last August for making a string of "weird calls" to police reporting to have seen people assaulted at gunpoint. Police never verified the calls, said Urbandale Police Sgt. Dave Disney.
"We had concerns for Walker's mental state, just from all the calls she was making," Disney said. "She's a strange one."
In a hearing Tuesday to charge Walker, Indiana State Police Lt. Jeff Heck said a 1992 homicide investigation report from Virginia Beach, Va., indicated Walker might have "multiple personalities and is capable of talking in a male voice."
Daniel Keith said he helped Walker when she first moved to Evansville, Ind. Like many who knew Walker through the years, he is bewildered by the latest charges.
"There had to be something in it for her," Keith said. "She did nothing, at least that was my take of her six years ago, she did nothing unless there was something in it for her."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.