Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Joyce McKinney and the Manacled Mormon

McKinney Escapes

McKinney's mugshot
McKinney's mugshot

Keith Joseph May's pilot's license and McKinney's alleged suicide attempt in the wake of Wayne Osmond's marriage initially seemed to make them poor bail risks. But, after three months in Holloway, she was able to convince authorities that keeping her in jail was a greater mental health risk. She and May were let out on £2500, on the condition that for the course of the trial they live at the same North London boarding house as their parents were staying in.

Free as long as she was back at Queen's Mansions before 9:00 p.m., McKinney let competing reporters take her out for lunch. She brought her own salad dressing — and put it on her steak too. They took her out in limos: She went to the premiere of a Joan Collins movie, and she got to meet Keith moon.

Landlady Annette Thatcher, 31, was a frequent companion too. McKinney was happy to quench her Irish landlady's love of whiskey, and in return Thatcher helped McKinney with a variety of errands. They went to a Mormon genealogical center to pick up a few spare birthdates and names, and they gathered supplies from the West End's theatrical outfitters.

Donning wigs and bearing passports identifying them as Joan Anne O'Connor and Anthony Peter McGowan, McKinney and Keith Joseph May left Heathrow on a British Airways flight to Shannon, where they boarded an Air Canada flight to Toronto. When McKinney noticed that there was a group of deaf actors on board, she decided to add another layer of disguise, pretending she deaf was and mute, communicating with Canadian customs officials only in short notes.

By the time she and May had made it to Atlanta, she'd managed to interest the Daily Express in her life story for £40,000. McKinney and May booked themselves into the Hilton as nuns. A reporter arrived to find that the duo had reinvented themselves as Sinbad the Sailor and a harem girl.

McKinney says she was so disturbed by the tabloid allegations about her sex-work that she considered jumping off balcony to die. May talked her down, she says, by reminding her that if she died the truth died with her.

The FBI caught up with McKinney and May in Asheville, North Carolina. The feds handed down suspended sentences for falsifying passports in July 1979. The US didn't extradite the duo; and the UK seemed to be content to have them off their hands.

She might have avoided the spotlight again forever.

An Intermission

In 1984, Joyce McKinney was arrested near the Salt Lake City airport. She'd allegedly been harassing lost-love Kirk Anderson. He was working as part of the ground crew, with duties that, as McKinney would later crow, included emptying the airplane toilets. Even in 2011, she would chortle about how much more beautiful she was than the woman Anderson ended up marrying.

Police found a rope and handcuffs in her car. She didn't show up at her court date — but authorities seem to have once again decided crazy Joyce McKinney wasn't worth following up on.

She left Utah for good and moved back to North Carolina, where she became locally known for occasionally making trouble.

The Times of London later reported that two veterinarians dropped her as a client because of her erratic behavior, and that someone once called the police to report that McKinney was abusing a horse. The Times also notes that a social worker and psychiatrist attempted some sort of intervention with her. Authorities accused her of trying to break into an animal shelter to rescue a dog (possibly her dog Booger, who'd been suspected of attacking a jogger), and she was rumored to have tried to involve a 14-year-old boy in a scheme to steal a bionic leg for her horse.

As McKinney tells it, she had enemies.

At the top of the list were the reporters who'd still come around. The family's property was bounded by woods and a creek, but they'd still make it up to the house. For protection, McKinney got a bull mastiff she named Toughie.

But a bee sting brought down the massive dog. According to McKinney, the women who worked at the pharmacy didn't like her, and they thought it would be funny to add an extra zero to the prednisone prescription that fought Toughie's bee sting. Giving the dog ten times the intended dose was disastrous. Disoriented, he attacked McKinney. His attack tore off three fingers and caused significant damage to her other arm and a kneecap. Toughie had gone for her abdomen and was starting to rip out McKinney's intestines when her other dog, Booger, saved her.

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