SALT LAKE CITY — A woman who made news around the world when she had five pups cloned in South Korea from her beloved pit bull Booger looked very familiar to some who saw her picture: She's the same woman who 31 years earlier was accused of abducting a Mormon missionary in England, handcuffing him to a bed and making him her sex slave.
Bernann McKinney acknowledged in a telephone call to the Associated Press on Saturday that she is indeed Joyce McKinney, who in 1977 became a British tabloid sensation when she faced charges of unlawful imprisonment in the missionary case. She jumped bail and was never brought to justice.
She said she went public with her efforts to replicate Booger, who died two years ago, hoping people would be able to focus on that story rather than the "garbage" of the past.
"I thought people would be honest enough to see me as a person who was trying to do something good and not as a celebrity," McKinney told the AP. "My mother always taught me, 'Say something good or say nothing at all.' "
McKinney's admission came after the AP ran a story noting the striking similarities in arrest records and court documents for the names Bernann McKinney and Joyce McKinney. They had the same birth date and Social Security numbers, the same hometown of Newland, N.C., and Joyce McKinney's middle name is Bernann.
The story of Joyce McKinney is the stuff of pulp fiction: a North Carolina-born beauty queen who moved west, won the Miss Wyoming USA title and went on to college at Brigham Young University, where she became obsessed with a Mormon fellow student.
When that young Mormon took a missionary trip to England, authorities say McKinney hired a private detective so she could locate him.
She and a male accomplice were accused of abducting the 21-year-old missionary, taking him to a rented 17th-century "honeymoon cottage" in Devon and chaining him to a bed with several pairs of mink-lined handcuffs.
There, investigators say, he was repeatedly forced to have sex with McKinney before he was able to escape and notify police.
In a 1977 court hearing, Joyce McKinney acknowledged tracking him to England. "I loved him so much," she told a judge, "that I would ski naked down Mount Everest in the nude with a carnation up my nose if he asked me to."
But she denied a sexual assault, saying the young man was a willing partner. "I didn't rape no 300-pound man," she said in her call to the AP on Saturday. "He was built like a Green Bay Packer."
McKinney and her accomplice spent three months in a London jail. Released on bail, the pair posed as deaf-mute actors in Ireland to board an Air Canada flight to Toronto and eventually a bus to Cleveland, where investigators lost their trail.
Joyce McKinney was arrested in Utah in May 1984 for allegedly stalking the workplace of the same Mormon man. Set to stand trial in 1986, McKinney again disappeared just before proceedings and the case was dismissed.
"They don't have a case. It's been 31 years. They don't care," McKinney said of the charges against her in London.
"It's taken years of therapy to get past this," she said. "We go to church and serve the Lord and try to lead good lives and do good things."