Investigators uncover complex identity fraud case in Howell County

HOWELL COUNTY, Mo. -- An Arkansas woman who has been living in Howell County for nearly three years, is behind bars for stealing her estranged daughter's identity. Investigators tell KY3 it's the most complex case of identity fraud they've ever seen.

Investigators say that 45-year-old Laura Oglesby of Willow Springs had stolen and assumed her 24-year-old estranged daughter's name, Lauren Ashleigh Hays, and identity for at least the past two years.

It started earlier this week when Mountain View Detective Stetson Schwien got a call from detectives in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

They had been searching three years for Laura Oglesby, who had essentially disapeared, for a full U.S bench warrant for financial identity fraud.

Arkansas detectives say they had information that Oglesby had likely stolen her daughter's identity and was living and working in the Mountain View area.

Detective Schwien researched both subjects and found that Lauren Ashleigh Hays had a valid Missouri driver's license and a Social Security number that checked to Hays' name.

A comparison showed both had similar facial structure and both had an identical crooked tooth.

Det. Schwien learned that Oglesby was working at the public library and performed a traffic stop on her while she was driving to work.

"She told me that she had taken her daughter's birth certificate, came to Missouri and was able to obtain a new identity using that birth certificate," Schwien said.

But it went further.

"Laura Oglesby was able to obtain a new social security card using the birth certificate. She took that social security card and applied for a Missouri driver's license. She took the exam and obtained a driver's license. Through that she was able to work at various local businesses and actually obtain employment through the city of Mountain View," Schwien added.

Investigators say that Olgesby used her daughter's identity and in that time she got federal assistance to attend Southwest Baptist University in Mountain View and she even went under her daughter's name and worked here at the public library.

Court documents say the name Lauren Hays was found on federal student aid forms, multiple W2 forms, a vehicle title, cell phone accounts, bank account information and much more.

"She had completely adopted a younger lifestyle: clothing, makeup and personality. She had completely assumed becoming a younger person in her early twenties," Detective Schwien told KY3.

Avery and Wendy Parker took Oglesby in nearly three years ago.

"A woman in town had said that there was a girl who had had an abusive relationship and she was at the Christos House and wanted to know if we could help her out, get her on her feet, get her started, mentor her and get her a fresh new life. We said sure, absolutely," the Parkers exclaimed.

Out of the kindness of their hearts they treated her like she was their daughter.

"She was a giddy, silly girl. She was 22 but she acted 17," Avery Parker said.

They say red flags started adding up so they called Avery's sister in the same town that Oglesby said she was from.

This all was happening as investigators were unraveling the truth behind Oglesby's crimes.

They got news they didn't truly expect.

"Within 24 hours, Laura surfaced and was arrested," Wendy Parker said.

"I try real hard to see the 45-year-old Laura, so I can hate her. But all I can see is a 22-year-old Lauren, who I just wanted to help," Avery Parker added.

"If I could give her a message it, I would just like to tell her that the people she hurt the most, we're nothing, was her kids. She hurt her kids," Wendy said.

Oglesby is in the Howell County Jail awaiting extradition back to Arkansas.

She will likely face numerous federal charges for her actions.