(NewsNation) — A U.S. defense contractor accused of living under the name of a dead Texas boy for decades was ordered detained Thursday by a federal judge in Honolulu after a federal prosecutor added new details to the mystery of his changed identity.
Walter Glenn Primrose, 66, was held without bail after a federal prosecutor said he was a flight risk with “troubling” possible connections overseas to help him if he were freed.
Primrose and his wife have been charged with fraudulently living for decades under the stolen identities of two dead babies. Primrose used the name Bobby Edward Fort while serving more than 20 years in the U.S. Coast Guard and earning a secret-level security clearance that he took with him to his defense job.
Federal defender Craig Jerome said the government hadn’t shown evidence to support their “speculation and innuendo” that the couple was involved in something more nefarious than “purely white-collar nonviolent offenses.”
If not for speculation “injected by the government” Primrose would be released, Jerome said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Myers said Primrose was a flight risk because he faces up to 17 years in prison if convicted of all charges and “his entire life has been a fraud for the last several decades.”
In the early 1980s, Primrose and his wife, Gwynn Darle Morrison, abruptly left Texas, Myers said. They told a family member they were entering the witness protection program and handed over their house keys with the offer to take anything they wanted. The house was later foreclosed on.
At some point, Primrose took on the identity of Fort, an infant who died in 1967. Morrison took the identity of Julie Lyn Montague, who died in 1968. If the children were alive, they would have been about 12 years younger than Primrose and Morrison.
During a search of their Hawaii home, authorities found Polaroids of the couple wearing jackets that appear to be authentic Russian KGB uniforms, Myers said. An expert determined the snapshots were taken in the 1980s.
The search also yielded an invisible ink kit, documents with coded language and maps showing military bases, Myers said.
In an interview with NewsNation, Tonda Ferguson said she never even got to hold her baby sister Julie Montague, who died at three weeks old.
“That sweet little sister of mine, like I said who I did not get to know … to this day I love her,” Ferguson said.
She and her father were shocked to hear her sibling’s identity had been in use for decades.
“And to those people who did that … I don’t have words,” Ferguson said. “I don’t think I have words for a response, because I could never, ever justify or imagine the action.”
Military experts say the information Primrose had access to in both jobs could be beneficial to foreign enemies.
“Enough information disclosed publicly can enable the enemy to put pieces together and that can tell the enemy a lot about us, troop movements what our general design is what our strategy is,” said Kevin O’Grady, a former military prosecutor.
An attorney for Morrison would not answer questions about the stolen identities but said her client is not a spy.
“My client just wants everyone to know that she is not a Russian spy and this has been blown way out of proportion,” attorney Megan Kau said.
In the Hawaii court, Myers, the prosecutor, said when the couple were left in a room together, they were recorded saying “things consistent with espionage.”
“The government has said a lot of things, but I haven’t seen any evidence of anything,” Jerome, the defense attorney, said.
The judge said he based his detention order on the alleged fraud “over multiple occasions spanning a long period of time.”