Salt Lake City A woman who made news around the world when she had five pups cloned from her beloved pit bull Booger looked very familiar to some who saw her picture: She's the same woman who 31 years earlier was accused of abducting a Mormon missionary in England, handcuffing him to a bed and making him her sex slave.
Dog lover Bernann McKinney acknowledged in a telephone call to The Associated Press on Saturday that she is indeed Joyce McKinney, who in 1977 became a British tabloid sensation when she faced charges of unlawful imprisonment in the missionary case. She jumped bail and was never brought to justice.
Through tears, she explained that she went public with her efforts to replicate Booger, who died two years ago, hoping people would be able to focus on that story rather than the "garbage" of the past.
"I thought people would be honest enough to see me as a person who was trying to do something good and not as a celebrity," McKinney told the AP. "My mother always taught me, 'Say something good or say nothing at all."'
"I think I gave people too much credit," she said.
British tabloids first recognized the blond woman's smiling face when she appeared in news photographs this past week with the five pit bull pups she paid South Korean scientists $53,000 to clone.
McKinney, who initially denied a connection between the two women, acknowledged that she was one and the same after the AP ran a story noting the striking similarities in arrest records and court documents for the names Bernann McKinney and Joyce McKinney. They had the same birth date and Social Security numbers, the same hometown of Newland, N.C., and Joyce McKinney's middle name is Bernann.
But the now-57-year-old McKinney said that, as far as she's concerned, the Joyce McKinney of 31 years ago doesn't exist. She maintains her innocence and says the woman of all those years ago is a "figment of the tabloid press. ... I don't want that garbage in with the puppy story."
In a 1977 court hearing mobbed by the British press, Joyce McKinney said she'd fallen head-over-heels in love with the Mormon man and acknowledged tracking him to England. But she denied a sexual assault.