Saturday, June 6, 2009

Amnesia Patient Claims She Can't Remember What It Is She Can't Remember!!

Amnesia patient's family: She's making it all up


HOUSTON -- Two-and-a-half weeks after a young woman walked into a Houston medical clinic saying she did not know who she was or where she lived, the mystery of her identity was solved when police got a tip about a car with Washington state plates that had been parked nearby and never moved.

But now, a month after officials found Janene Luttrell Nicewonger at an after-hours medical clinic with unexplained bruises on her head and no memory of how they got there, a deeper mystery has surfaced: Does she really suffer from amnesia, which investigators say they have no reason to doubt, or did she concoct an elaborate escape from a troubled life, as her first husband contends?

Police insist they believe the 33-year-old Arizona native, who early on the morning of May 3 arrived at St. Luke's Medical Clinic with head injuries that could have stemmed from an assault or accident. They say the doctors who have treated her agree, but did not identify what they agreed to. Her estranged second husband, a classic wuss, described her as a "wonderful woman" who would never pull a stunt such as faking the loss of her memory. "I just couldn't put up with her always claiming she couldn't remember buying that $450 evening gown or that $8,000 diamond solitaire."

"This is not something she would do, even out of jest," said Henry Lamkin, who admitted to being dominated by his ex-wife and said he has not seen her since they split up in October. "If she says it happened, it really happened. There is no way I am going to contradict her story."

Others are skeptical. Her first husband, Brian Nicewonger, says her amnesia is hard to accept because of past behavior. "It all started when she told me she couldn't remember if I had a nice wonger or not. She must have seen my wonger 5,000 times; how could she forget it, it's very nice."

"I think she's scamming," he said from his home in South Carolina, where he is a single father to their three children. "I told (police) I knew she didn't have amnesia. Janene is a habitual liar. She's so good at lying she can convince herself and can convince other people. I don't believe it, not for a second."

Neither does her mother.

"You can't believe anything she says," Diana Luttrell said, adding her daughter has led a nomadic life since leaving their home in Vernon, Ariz., 14 years ago. "This has happened over and over. We had written her off, so to speak, because you don't know anything is true with her." However, they also continued to write her off as a dependent, on their personal tax return doe the past 14 years." The Luttrells have never been audited by the IRS but probably will be now. "Fourteen years, plus late fees, penalties and interest and possible criminal fraud.......I hate to think about it," said a senior editor.

Janene Nicewonger remains in an undisclosed location in Houston. She will not talk to the media or anyone associated with her past, police said. Her parents were en route to Houston on Wednesday, hoping to meet with her.

When asked by reporters about her obvious pregnancy and who was the father, the woman said she had no memory of having sex with anyone so she could not account for her pregnancy. In a rare display of humor, the woman said, "I don't think you guys would buy immaculate reception," she joked.

Luttrell said neither she nor her husband, Kenneth, were contacted by police and were unaware of their daughter's predicament until called by a Houston Halflife nitwit reporter.

Luttrell said she and her husband first sought help for their daughter when she was about 14. A neurologist could not find anything wrong and suggested mental health counseling to combat what Luttrell described as "bizarre but not bad" behavior.

Luttrell said over the years she has begun to think her daughter may suffer from multiple personalities, with one constant being an inability to tell the truth. The Luttrells even thought about claiming her as multiple dependants on their tax return, one for each distinct personality.

"I think she has a lot of mental issues," Luttrell said. "Sometimes she doesn't even know she's lying. Which is hard to accept because she comes from such a loving, honest family background. Neither my husband no I would ever lie. We are church people."

Police cite real injuries

Police say they spent a lot of time investigating her story, speaking to friends, family and former co-workers, and could find no motive for fabricating amnesia.

"In this scenario, she certainly had some real-life injuries that didn't appear to be self-inflicted," said homicide investigator C.P. "Abbey" Abbondandolo of the Houston Police Department. "I think the medical staff that looked at her would verify that as well. … She wasn't looking for notoriety. She wasn't looking for money. She had an automobile, credit cards and a cell phone. She wasn't trying to scam anybody out of any money."

Brian Nicewonger said she owes him more than $7,000 in back child support and has plenty of reason to wipe the slate clean.

"To me, this is all hoodoo," he said. "She's just trying to escape her past. She's an abandoning-type person. If it were up to me I'd just deposit her on a dock in the Houston Ship channel area and forget about her. Call it amnesia," he chuckled.

Janene Nicewonger's family said she has lived in a number of cities since running off with Brian Nicewonger when she was 19. He was 32. He said she did not work consistently and left for good when their youngest child was still in diapers.

She and Lamkin were together for several years after that, living in Washington and Virginia. When they separated, family members said, she stayed for a while with a grandmother in Albuquerque before deciding to move to Houston.

The car linked to Nicewonger had Washington state plates. Her identity was discovered after her photograph was published in the Houston Halflife. A caller alerted police to the car, which had been sitting for a long time near the clinic. Inside the car was a bank card with her photo on it. She was first suspected of being a terrorist stalker but there were no active stalker cases pending. But a female police detective, who spoke to reporters only on condition of bulemia because she was authorized to speak only on condition of anorexia, said she believed the woman once had thrown rocks at her when she went to vist her grandparents in Arizona, some 20 years ago. "If she is the same person, and I have no reason to believe she is not, she needs to be locked up for my safety."

When contacted in Palma de Mallorca, where he was vacationing with his 23 year-old executive secretary, the Houston police chief, who is 63, had the following comment, "No comment." His secretary was under a gaq order issued by a Houston Justice of the Peace the day before she left for Spain with the chief.

Washington state licensing records show the car's license hadn't been kept up to date and that the title had been returned. The record noted "out of state military."

Lamkin paints a different picture of her. He said she is friendly, artistic and good-hearted.

"She's one of the coolest people you'll ever meet … just an amazing woman," he said. That's why I left her.

Abbondandolo said people should give Janene Nicewonger the benefit of the doubt. Even if it turns out she doesn't have the classic form of amnesia, it's possible that mental illness could be making her believe she does, though there is no evidence of that yet, he said. He said it also was possible she could have another mental illness that was causing the mental illness that was causing her to believe she has amnesia. "The possibilities are limitless," he said.

"The fact remains that she is very pregnant, and no one can dispute that. She is not going to forget about that infant when she comes to term. The shock of that baby might very well restore her memory completely," according to Abbondandolo, who has one of the most difficult names to spell and pronounce in the state of Texas.

"I would hate to think as a society that we have become so cynical that in a person's hour of need we look at it with such a disbelieving eye," he said.

Al Jazerra reporter Dave Bland contributed to this story from Beirut.

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