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Real-life "Thelma and Louise' jump bail

Published Aug. 11, 1995|Updated Oct. 4, 2005

Joyce Carolyn Stevens was the mousey daughter of a minister, Rose Marie Turford a nurse and suburban mom who drove the kids to baseball practice.

The idea that these two arranged dates through a telephone service, robbed the men at gunpoint and then took to the road has amazed police and floored relatives and friends.

The women, now dubbed Thelma and Louise after the 1991 movie starring Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, have jumped bail and were last seen in Canada.

"It just doesn't make any sense," said Turford's attorney, Mike Lamson. "Upper-middle class. It just doesn't jive."

The women were arrested March 14 at a Houston-area motel and jailed on three counts of aggravated robbery. Authorities say they robbed at gunpoint three men they had met through a telephone dating service.

While they were in jail, they were charged with another count of aggravated robbery and kidnapping for allegedly sticking up a man in Galveston County.

The women skipped town for Canada on May 14, a day after relatives posted their combined $500,000 bail.

Bail bondsman Clement Romeo began a campaign to find the women because he says he doesn't want to foreclose on the property put up by their relatives.

Romeo printed T-shirts with a "Wanted" poster and mug shots of the two women. Turford, 35, has long, straight hair and appears drawn and pale. Stevens, 30, has curly, medium-length hair and a full face.

"It's a business and we all try to make money but we have compassion too," Romeo said Tuesday.

The women met in 1992 soon after Turford started working at Spring Shadows Glen rehabilitation hospital. In spring 1994, Stevens moved into the home Turford shared with her husband and three boys.

Police say Stevens began showing up at the Turford home with injuries she says were inflicted by a mysterious "Avery." Authorities don't know how she got the injuries but say she told the Turfords that Avery also had threatened to harm them.

Romeo thinks Stevens made up the story about Avery and lured Turford into a life of crime.

Police say the women may be involved in five other cases in Las Vegas and Houston since January in which men who had signed up for dating services were robbed at gunpoint.

In July, a rental car that was reported stolen turned up in Toronto with a note from a Joyce Stevens, apologizing to the rental agency.

Since then, investigators have reported dozens of sightings of the women in Canada, but think most are false alarms.

Stevens' lawyer, Bill Burge, said he last heard from his client shortly after she disappeared.

"I already told her she needs to come in," Burge said. "She said she was going to."


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