The Bizarre Truth About Lori Ruff, The Woman Without An Identity

By the time Blake Ruff's wife died, he realized he didn't know her at all. On Christmas Eve in 2010, Lori Erica Ruff sat in her car outside her in-laws' Longview, Texas home, and ended her life with a gunshot to the head. In the days that followed, Blake tried to make sense of how things had gone so wrong. How had their marriage fallen apart? Why had Lori begun behaving so erratically? And why didn't she see any other option but to end her own life?

As Blake began the daunting task of sorting through his wife's possessions, he knew that he would have to deal with one thing that Lori had always told him he was to never touch. Buried deep in the back of Lori's closet, Blake pulled out a sealed lockbox. Now, as he opened it, he understood why it was forbidden territory. He found a birth certificate for one person that wasn't her. And, as he flipped through multiple IDs with pictures of his wife at different ages, he realized they all had different names printed on them, according to the Daily Mail. Was she Lori Erica Ruff? Or, Becky Sue Turner? Or, Lori Erika Kennedy? Or, maybe she was none of them.

Whomever she was, the woman Blake knew as Lori Ruff was not who she claimed to be. As far as the authorities were concerned, once Blake called them in, she was an identity thief now given the name "Jane Doe."

Immediate family trouble

Blake's parents were suspicious of Lori right from the beginning. Eager to meet her, the family invited her to lunch. Blake's mom, Nancy Ruff, described facing a stone wall. With each question she asked, Lori deflected, the Seattle Times reported. She told them her parents were dead and that she had no living siblings or extended family. And when asked about her days in high school, she said she skipped it and went straight to college. Nancy said it was like that all afternoon — she asked questions, and Lori provided evasive answers. But Blake was in love. And when he asked her to marry him in 2004, she said yes, but insisted on no announcement in the newspaper, and wanted a wedding where only the minister was present.

After they married, Lori and Blake moved across the state from his parents, and they tried to have a child almost immediately. After four years of attempts, miscarriages, and disappointments, the couple had a daughter. And, with the child, Lori's behavior became even more erratic. She was overly protective, and she refused to let other people hold their daughter. Lori's behavior caused immense tensions between Lori and the Ruffs, even keeping the new grandparents from visiting their granddaughter. Blake was caught in the middle, and eventually he couldn't take it anymore. In 2010, he moved back across the state to live with his parents. He filed for divorce a short time later.

Lori Ruff rapidly declines

In a matter of months, Lori completely deteriorated. She and her young daughter had visibly lost weight. The house was in total shambles. She was sending deranged emails to the Ruffs. And she may have even attempted to break into the family's home, according to the Seattle Times. But it wasn't until Lori ended her life on Christmas Eve that the Ruffs would get answers. Investigators wondered if she had been a KGB agent, or if she had been in the military and gone AWOL. They looked for signs of gambling addiction and sex trafficking. Nothing. Although she left notes for her husband and her daughter, they didn't provide any clues. 

The trail leading backwards was in the forbidden lockbox. When Blake met Lori, she went by the name of "Lori Erica Kennedy." She obtained this identity via a girl named Becky Sue Turner, who died in 1971 in a house fire near Seattle, Washington. Lori acquired Turner's birth certificate in 1988, a time when you could just send a letter requesting a birth certificate with little resistance. Becky was born in one state and died in another, making it much less likely that a fraudulent use of her identity would be noticed.

She then moved to Idaho and obtained a driver's license using Becky's birth certificate, according to After several months living as Becky Sue Turner, she legally changed her name to Lori Kennedy and moved to the Dallas area, where she met Blake Ruff.

Finally identifying 'Lori Ruff'

All of that work by the investigators traced several links back in the history of Lori Ruff's false identities, but they still didn't know who she really was. For years, it was nothing but a series of dead ends. Then, in September 2016, investigators believed they solved the case.

Lori Erica Ruff's true identity was Kimberly McLean. Using DNA analysis from Ruff's daughter, investigators were able to trace Ruff's identity back to a family in Pennsylvania, whose teenage daughter had disappeared in 1986, per Mental Floss. It's not exactly clear why Kimberly McLean fled (most family accounts suggest it was due to a dislike of her new stepfather), but extended family immediately recognized the woman in the investigator's photo. "My God, that's Kimberly!," one Pennsylvania relative exclaimed, the Seattle Times reported. Although plenty of questions about the case still have not been answered, Lori Ruff's name was removed from the federal government's database of missing and unidentified persons.