Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Treva Throneberry: The Girl Who Refused to Grow Up

Love and Anguish

Treva seemed to quickly settle into the new community and her high school. Although she wasn't quite like all the students, her classmates accepted her and she became friends with a select few. One young man in particular named Ken formed a close bond with Treva and the two became almost inseparable. Before long, they began going steady. 

Treva often confided in Ken and at times she revealed to him the horrors of her past. Once again, she spoke of being raped by her stepfather, of how he brutally murdered her mother and how he allowed strangers to rape her. Ken had no idea the stories Treva told were lies.

One day Treva told him that she had been the victim of yet another rape, one that occurred more recently. She claimed that in 1997, a 47-year-old security guard raped her in his car near Vancouver Lake. Treva said she told the police and the man was promptly arrested.

The man Treva referred to was Charles W. Blankenship who in March 1998 was sentenced to 365 days in jail (315 of which were suspended) for "communicating with a minor (Treva) for immoral purposes, a gross misdemeanor," Stephanie Thompson reported in The Columbian. No one knew that Treva's real age at the time was actually 28 and not 17, as she professed to police. Moreover, no one knew that Blankenship was innocent of rape. However, the truth didn't matter to Treva and she continued to tell her stories to anyone who would listen. 

Hollandsworth quoted Ken later who said, "Here was a beautiful girl who had been forced to endure unimaginable atrocities….and yet she was at Evergreen, waiting to make something of herself in life."   Ken took it upon himself to help her because he genuinely cared about Treva and wanted to make her happy. He was 16 and in love and "couldn't imagine that anything could go wrong," he was reported saying. 

Treva (Brianna) and Ken Dunn at a school dance
Treva (Brianna) and Ken Dunn at a school dance

Ken was not alone when it came to wanting to protect Treva after all she'd been through. One of the first families she lived with in Washington State, the Fishers, were determined to give her a positive environment where she could hopefully flourish. However, Treva's stay was cut unexpectedly short. After only five months they asked her to leave because, unlike Ken and many others who knew her, they had difficulty believing she was really a teenager, Tom Vogt reported in The Columbian.

The Fishers were not alone in their suspicions. That same year, Treva went to the dentist who made a surprising discovery. He noticed that her wisdom teeth had been extracted and that the scars had fully healed, which was highly unusual for a 16-year-old. The dentist told Treva's caseworker that he suspected she was much older than she was letting on. The caseworker then confronted Treva, "warning her that defrauding the foster-care system was a crime," Lydgate reported. However, Treva vehemently denied that she lied about her age and eventually her caseworker's reservations were set aside.

Within a relatively short period, Treva was assigned to live with another foster family, the Gambettas. At first, Treva seemed to adjust well to life with the family. They went out of their way to make her feel accepted, realizing she came from an abusive situation. There was no reason to believe that Treva was anything but happy during her stay there but after seven months everything changed.

One day in 1999 David Gambetta, Treva's foster father, came home and learned the police were asking after him. He later discovered that Treva went to the police and accused him of spying on her with a camera in her bedroom. The accusation was a major blow to David and his family, which almost ended in his arrest. Yet, Treva's allegations were filled with inaccuracies and the police ultimately dismissed her story. Needless to say, Treva found herself once again looking for a new home.

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