ELECTRA -- Treva Throneberry quit her Northwest Texas high school in 1985, halfway through her junior year, leaving classmates wondering where she went.
Police in Vancouver, Wash., believe they have the answer.
They say she has been hitchhiking around the country for much of her adult life, masquerading as a homeless, abused teen-ager.
Now she's in a Vancouver jail on charges of using that ploy to get state benefits as a minor.
Authorities say she changed her name and played the teen role to the utmost by enrolling as a sophomore in a Vancouver high school. She studied drama, went to the senior prom, and graduated with the class of 2000.
The graduate claimed to be 18. Investigators say she was really 31.
"She was trying to escape to a happier time," speculated her father, Carl Throneberry of Comanche, Okla. "She didn't want to grow up, so she stayed a teen-ager."
Just before April Fool's Day, police popped the lid on what they say is her true age and identity and arrested her on suspicion of fraud.
The pigtailed Treva Throneberry, now 32, is scheduled to go on trial next week on multiple perjury and theft charges. Authorities say she finagled foster care, a high school education and a college tuition waiver by claiming to be a street kid. She is also accused of obtaining a Washington state identity card under the name of Brianna Stewart.
That name is one of at least nine aliases that police contend she has used in numerous states, including Texas, to perpetrate similar frauds.
"Treva assumes false names and ages to receive help from religious groups and persons, and from the government as a minor," says a report by Vancouver Detective Scott Smith. "Under all the aliases, the story is similar in that abduction and sex crimes are reported."
Interviews and court records reveal the complex story of a girl who never grew up. At 32, Treva is running from a past that probably does include sexual abuse.
Carl Throneberry and his wife, Patsy, link their daughter's problems to an alleged rape at age 16.
"She accused me of it," Carl Throneberry said, "but that's not possible."
Records in the Wichita County district attorney's office show that a sexual assault charge against Carl Throneberry was dismissed in 1986.
In Treva Throneberry's hometown of Electra, some find her story baffling.
"She was a quiet-type person who blended in, a loner who caused no problems," recalled Electra High School librarian Jimmie Rich.
"She was real nice," said former classmate Missie Holmes, who still lives in the oil town of 3,100 near Wichita Falls. She last remembers Treva at high school football games.
"Then she disappeared and nobody knew where she went."
Throneberry's disappearance marked the start of what police say is a 15-year odyssey as a perennial teenager. Over the years, she has been documented by police and the FBI in at least 10 states.
Her journey from Electra began in December 1985, when she told her high school counselor that her father had raped her, according to an affidavit filed in Wichita County Juvenile Court. The court ordered in January 1986 that Treva, the "baby" of the Throneberrys' five children, be placed in foster care.
Carl Throneberry said he believes that the real culprit was a member of one of several area churches that Treva attended.
"He let her out about a block from home that night," he said. "Her clothes were torn and muddy. Her face was red. She was in terrible shape."
Patsy Throneberry likened some of Treva's church friends at that time to a "cult." "After she got involved with those people, she started calling every man `Dad,' " she said.
Patsy Throneberry said she doesn't know whether the man they suspect of assaulting their daughter was questioned, adding that he later disappeared. Electra police no longer have files from 1985.
The Throneberrys said they didn't know their daughter's whereabouts until last spring, when they positively identified a photograph provided by the Vancouver Police Department. They said they hadn't heard from her in four or five years.
"We thought she might be dead," said Carl Throneberry, a retired breakdown-service operator. "We even kept a burial policy on her."
Patsy Throneberry said their daughter called home a few times but denied being Treva, using other names instead. She said she recognized her daughter's voice, yet couldn't determine why she called.
"All of this nearly drove us both crazy," she said.
Treva completed her junior year at Wichita Falls High School while living with foster parents Sharon and Jimmy Gentry.
"She was an intelligent young lady," Sharon Gentry said. "She enjoyed church and she was first in her knowledge of the Bible."
The Wichita Falls teacher said the girl required "patience" but was not unmanageable.
This contrasts with what her Washington caregivers and others told the Vancouver Columbian newspaper. In 1998, one couple asked her to leave, suspecting that she wasn't a teen-ager. A classmate said she had "almost ruined" a family with whom she had lived when she accused the father of molestation.
Sharon Gentry, who described Treva as "fixed on the age of 16 or 17," said the girl was awakened by nightmares while living with them. Citing privacy rules, she declined to say why Treva left their care in May 1986, saying only, "she needed additional care in an area we weren't skilled in."
At one point, Treva spent time in a Wichita Falls mental hospital, her father said. Gentry said Treva later lived at the Lena Pope Home in Fort Worth, where school records show she graduated from Arlington Heights High School in 1987.
Gentry said Treva was still living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area when she came to visit her several years later. At one time, she had an apartment and a job cleaning motel rooms. There were also times when Treva was homeless and needing medication, Sharon Gentry said.
In 1995, Gentry was called by the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services to identify Treva in a Burleson group home. Treva, then 26, claimed to be Emily Kara Williams, 16, a sexual abuse victim, the police report said.
Melissa Fowler, a former DPRS public information officer, said a suspicious caseworker initiated the identity inquiry when a group home employee recognized Treva. With Sharon Gentry's positive identification and other evidence, including fingerprints, the agency succeeded in having its conservatorship of Treva dismissed on grounds that she was not a minor.
Fowler said that after the September 1995 dismissal, "our caseworker sent her out of the courthouse with a quarter and a phone number for a homeless shelter."
To the end, Fowler said, she denied being Treva.
Vancouver police say Throneberry surfaced again in 1996 in Altoona, Pa., as Stephanie Danielle Lewis, a Tennessee runaway who said she had been raped by her father. She was taken into care by child welfare authorities until fingerprints linked her to the incident at Burleson. She was later convicted in Pennsylvania of providing a false report to law enforcement, Vancouver's Smith said.
At her Vancouver stop, Throneberry's alleged escapades began to make national headlines. Authorities say she unwittingly tipped them off to a fake identity when she tried to get a birth certificate and a Social Security card under the name of Brianna Stewart, 18.
When the former psychology student and purported amnesia victim provided fingerprints to an attorney assisting her with the process, they matched those of Treva Throneberry, then 31, who had a record in Pennsylvania.
Smith said the woman contended that there was a mistake in the FBI's fingerprint records. Paradoxically, she later requested a DNA test, which showed a 99.9 percent likelihood that she is the Throneberrys' daughter.
Despite the evidence, she still claims she is not.
"She truly believes herself to be Brianna Stewart," said her new court-appointed attorney, Gerry Wear.
Her previous attorney, Kathleen McCann, did not respond to interview requests. But she told the court in May that a Seattle psychologist who evaluated her client found her to be "profoundly disturbed." But she added that mental problems that would qualify the use of insanity as a defense have not been diagnosed for Throneberry.
Wear said Throneberry's defense would be based on "holding the state to the burden of proof on each of the charges."
McCann previously told the Columbian: "This case is not about fraud but about a tremendous emptiness, a need, a trauma very early in her life."
In August, after the DNA results were revealed, McCann recommended that Throneberry accept a plea bargain. Throneberry fired McCann and demanded a trial. If convicted, she could serve up to four years in prison.
Throneberry also has other legal problems. She has been charged with filing a false police report in Oregon in 1993, alleging that she had been sexually abused by a Portland police officer, who she claimed was her father.
She is also linked to a 1997 case in which a Camas, Wash., man was convicted of having sex with a minor, "Brianna Stewart." Now police say the "minor" was 28 years old at the time. The man's record has since been cleared.
Her story's stranger-than-fiction plot line has led a Hollywood entertainment company to buy movie rights from her Evergreen High School homecoming date, according to the Columbian. It has also given those who know her much to ponder.
"This is the story of a young woman who ended up on the street through no fault of her own," said Sharon Gentry, referring to a mental-health system that is less protective of those older than 18. "To survive and be safe, she had to move from one system to the other."
"What she has done is wrong," said her mother, "but she's not just a common criminal."
Added her father: "She doesn't need to be punished. She needs to be helped."