Woman Accused in Missing-Child Hoax Turns Herself In to Authorities

Donna Lynette Walker (search), accused by police in Indiana of perpetrating a cruel hoax against the parents of a girl abducted 17 years ago, turned herself in to authorities Thursday afternoon.

Walker contacted a Topeka (search) attorney and surrendered shortly after 5 p.m. (CDT) at the Shawnee County Jail, where she will be held overnight.

The woman turned herself in because "it's the right thing to do and I had nothing to hide," she said in a televised interview.

"I'm just confident that everything will come out in the court system," she said.

The woman's first court hearing is set for 11 a.m. Friday. Her bail will be set during the session, said her attorney, Billy Rork (search).

Rork said he does not expect Walker to be charged in Kansas with any crime other than being a fugitive. Rork said he has little information about Walker. She contacted him, telling him that she needed an attorney.

As for the case against her in Indiana, Rork said, "That allegation will be fully explained."

Police charged Walker, 35, with identity deception and false reporting.

"The motive is unknown and probably won't be until she is arrested and we have a chance to interview her in court," said Indiana State Police 1st Sgt. Dave Bursten. "We don't think it was financial. There was never any kind of request for money."

Rork would not say where Walker had been during the past 24 hours. Her neighbors and landlord in Topeka said they had had no contact with her for at least the past several days.

Rork said Walker does not want to talk yet about the case, but she remains confident the judicial system will treat her fairly. He called the case "highly emotional."

Friday's court hearing is expected to be by video teleconference, something that's common in Shawnee County for first appearances.

According to Walker's friends, she has a long history of disrupting the lives of those around her: She made crank calls in disguised voices, concocted hard-luck stories and conned people out of money.

But Walker's latest alleged hoax has even puzzled investigators familiar with her record.

Authorities say that last weekend, Walker phoned the parents of a girl abducted 17 years ago and pretended to be their long-lost daughter. The girl's family members were crushed -- her father reduced to tears -- when they learned on Wednesday that it was a lie.

Police called it a "cruel hoax" and launched a nationwide hunt Thursday for Walker.

Investigators said Walker may have found out details about the case of Shannon Marie Sherrill on the Internet, which contains several Web sites devoted to the girl's abduction. Shannon was 6 when she vanished in 1986 while playing hide-and-seek near the family's Indiana home.

Walker continued the ruse for days, allegedly calling Shannon's family members, 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.

Police began to doubt Walker's claims only when she would not provide them with numbers to reach her.

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 hoax, she said, "I'm not going to give up on my daughter."

Now, days into the investigation, police have discovered a disturbing pattern of deceit by Walker.

Court records and interviews indicate she has had brushes with the law in California, Kansas, Virginia and Nebraska involving such offenses as 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."

Some of those who say they were conned by her are hoping police find her soon.

In Evansville, Daniel Keith helped Walker when she first moved to the city. Keith said she claimed to have fled an abusive relationship, and he allowed her to run up $13,000 in credit card charges.

"She's very convincing," Keith said. "She talked me into getting credit cards for her, and I was dumb enough to do it."

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.