- The Washington Times - Monday, May 13, 2002

MIAMI (AP) Doubts are mounting about the woman who says a child-welfare worker took 5-year-old Rilya Wilson from her home last year and never returned her.
An Associated Press review of court records from past criminal and civil cases involving Geralyn Graham shows that she has used at least 33 aliases and that lawyers in the past have questioned whether she is a con artist or severely mentally impaired.
"She has certainly presented herself in a way that defies knowing her and understanding her," clinical psychologist James Butcher concluded in December 2000 after reviewing a mental-assessment test taken by Mrs. Graham in a lawsuit she had brought against a rental-car company.
Rilya was sent to live with Mrs. Graham, who says she is her paternal grandmother, and Mrs. Graham's sister Pamela in April 2000. She stayed with the sisters until January 2001 when, Geralyn Graham says, a state child-welfare worker took Rilya for evaluation.
The girl was supposed to receive monthly state visits, but state workers didn't report the child missing until April 25 15 months after Mrs. Graham says the child was taken from her.
Florida Department of Children & Families Secretary Kathleen Kearney has said the girl isn't anywhere in the state system.
When DNA samples on Friday ruled out that a body found in Missouri was Rilya, Miami-Dade Police Director Carlos Alvarez disclosed that the Graham sisters each had failed a polygraph test. He wouldn't say what questions were asked or where the sisters showed deception.
"Everybody involved in this case is being investigated. Nobody is immune," Mr. Alvarez said, answering questions of whether any charges were forthcoming.
Attorney Ed Shohat, who is representing the sisters free of charge, criticized the disclosure and said police "had to find a way to turn attention on someone else" to deflect concern that they were no closer to finding Rilya.
Court records involving Geralyn Graham show others, including her sister, have questioned her credibility.
In a landlord-tenant dispute after Rilya's disappearance, Pamela Graham sent a letter to the court saying she was Geralyn Graham's guardian because her sister "now suffers from dementia" because of a 1996 van accident, the court records show.
Geralyn Graham's memory was vague in a deposition with Alamo Rent-A-Car in a personal-injury lawsuit stemming from that 1996 accident. Geralyn Graham refused hospital treatment but later claimed debilitating head injuries.
In a January 2000 deposition in the case, Geralyn Graham said she couldn't remember her street address and didn't know her Social Security number. In other depositions and doctors' reports in the case, she couldn't remember who her father was.
A birth certificate found by Alamo indicates Geralyn Graham was born Geraldine Thomas in Greenville, Miss., on Jan. 14, 1946. Alamo also turned up an assortment of Social Security numbers and driver's licenses, along with 15 aliases.
Two licenses were obtained on the same day in 1990 under different names Gerrilyn Pindling and Gerrilyn Cartwright.
"Clearly scammers and criminals can be injured and are entitled to damages from the party causing their injury," Geralyn Graham's attorney Bambi Blum wrote in the Alamo suit in January 2001.
Alamo attorney John Korf called her claim in the lawsuit that she needed round-the-clock care "an absolute falsehood." He said she received a $10,000 payment for a claim of head, neck and lower-back injuries from a 1994 rear-end collision. She reported receiving Social Security benefits for a mental disorder in 1986, suffering a broken hip in a 1972 car accident and undergoing knee-replacement surgery in 1999.


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