Fugitive's Home for 18 Years: Key West Houseboat

Michelle Singleton was living as Catherine Harris
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 24, 2014 9:09 AM CDT
Fugitive's Home for 18 Years: Key West Houseboat
Michelle Singleton   (Monroe County Sheriff's Office)

Michelle Singleton had a seemingly enviable life in Key West, Florida—that is, until police knocked on the door of her houseboat on Friday and took her into custody, 18 years after she was convicted of payroll check fraud. Singleton had skipped town in 1996, leaving Kansas City, Mo., before her sentencing, the New York Daily News reports. She acquired a birth certificate about a month later and created a new life for herself as Catherine Harris, until a tip to the Secret Service led authorities to send a photo of Singleton to Monroe County detectives—and one recognized her. They then compared Singleton's driver's license photo to the one on the license she used as Harris; it seemed to be a match.

And when detectives showed up at the pier her where houseboat sat, Singleton wasted no time in revealing her real identity: When they asked for her birth certificate, the 66-year-old "fumbled" with her papers before pulling out Harris' paperwork—at which point her real birth certificate and social security card fell on the floor. She then admitted her true identity and was taken into custody on fugitive charges, NBC News reports. According to Singleton, she almost got away for good: She told authorities she was planning to sell her boat and move to the Dominican Republic. (Another man on the lam was recently caught ... also in Florida.)

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