Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mistaken Identity Is a Costly Ordeal

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mistaken Identity Is a Costly Ordeal

Article excerpt

Terrence Randolph fell into the rabbit hole in August 2010. He was in the shower on a Monday morning when his wife called to him. There are some policemen at the door.

He was curious, but not concerned. He was 44 and married with five children. There was nothing in his background to hint at trouble.

He had grown up in Mount Vernon, Ill. He joined the Army after high school. He served in Desert Storm. He intended to make the Army a career, but he developed some health problems. He left the Army in 1998 after 13 years. He was awarded a 70 percent service-connected disability pension.

He went to a technical school and earned an associates degree in computer technology. He was hired as a civilian employee at Scott Air Force Base in September 2001. He and his wife bought a home in Belleville.

Now there were police at the door. One said Randolphs name had come up in connection with an investigation in Arnold. Would he mind coming downtown to the station?

Randolph agreed to go to the station. Why not? To his surprise, they handcuffed him. At the station, they put him in a cell, where he sat for a couple of hours.

Meanwhile, the police asked his wife for permission to search. Sure, she said.

The police were looking for electronic items that had been purchased with stolen credit cards. The search came up empty. Randolph was released.

Although Randolph did not know it, here is what had happened: Credit cards had been stolen from locker rooms at a number of YMCAs in the St. Louis region. Police had obtained photos of a black man using the stolen credit cards. Reproductions of one photo were distributed to YMCA branches. Randolph coached a youth basketball team at the Belleville YMCA. When he came in to renew his membership, an employee called the police. The man in the photo was just here, she said.

A little more than a week after the visit from police, Randolph received a form letter from a lawyer in Clayton. A warrant has been issued against you, the letter said. You need an attorney.

Randolph drove to Clayton to straighten things out. He spoke with the lawyer. Yes, he had been charged, but that was not the worst of it. The word was out the thief had been identified. …

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