Orange County Sheriff's Department/AP
Bonnie Sweeten

Woman Fakes Her Own Abduction, Then Takes Her Daughter to Disney World

May 29, 2009 06:30 PM
by Rachel Balik
A Pennsylvania woman stole her co-worker’s driver’s license to buy plane tickets to Disney World, after telling police she and her daughter had been abducted.

Mother Fakes Identity and Abduction

Police searched for Bonnie Sweeten and her daughter, Julia Rakoczy, for over 30 hours after Sweeten called 911 to say that she had been kidnapped and thrown in the trunk of a car. However, at the time, Sweeten was using a driver’s license she took from a co-worker to buy plane tickets and take her daughter to Disney World.

USA Today and The Associated Press report that Sweeten had pulled her 9-year-old daughter out of school on May 1, and had been withdrawing money from a number of bank accounts. Police were able to trace the identity theft, which Sweeten executed by telling a co-worker that she needed her ID in order to roll over her 401(k) account. She then booked plane tickets to Orlando and a hotel room in the other woman’s name.

Police arrested Sweeten on Wednesday, May 27, at her hotel room. Sweeten’s ex-husband Anthony Rakoczy came to get his daughter and took her back to Bucks County, Pa., reports the AP, while Sweeten remained in custody in Florida.

Several resources were used to uncover the crime, including airport surveillance cameras, but police noted that the abduction story Sweeten offered was “generic” and seemed flawed from the start. She claimed two black men, whom she was unable to describe specifically, had carjacked her and stuffed her in their trunk.

Police added that no one was accused or arrested based on the false report, a situation that can be embarrassing and disturbing for both the police force and alleged suspect. Sweeten had a hearing in Florida that lasted about a minute, the AP reports. She waived her extradition rights, opting to be tried in her home state of Pennsylvania.

Related Topic: Famous faked crimes

Sweeten’s fake abduction story was ultimately harmless, but there have been far more serious incidents of people fabricating criminals to throw police off-track. Sadly, the perpetrator is often described as a person of color. When these incidents occur, they provoke a considerable degree of racial tension.

In 1989, Boston man Charles Stuart deliberately drove to a mostly black neighborhood before shooting and killing his pregnant wife. His brother helped him dispose of the murder weapon after he shot himself as well. He described a black man to police, and a hunt for the killer ensued. A man was even arrested before Stuart’s brother confessed. Stuart killed himself by jumping off a bridge, but the racial tension remained.

The infamous Susan Smith planned to commit suicide after drowning her two young children by letting her car sink into a lake, according to Crime Library. Instead, she claimed that a black man had taken the car with her young children. Eventually, the truth was discovered.

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