(Or, this might be retitled, "How Dumb Can People Be?")
Strip-Search Case Closed?
An Extra Shift Led to a Terrifying Strip Search, But the Suspect Was
Nov. 30, 2006 - It was the shocking story -- and unbelievable
surveillance video -- that riveted the nation. A young McDonald's
employee humiliated, forced to strip and then to perform a sexual act
in the back office, during her work day.
This horrifying ordeal changed one woman's life forever, and put one
man on trial, accused of masterminding a bizarre and elaborate
hoax. If convicted, David Stewart faced 15 years in prison on charges
ranging from solicitation of sodomy, to impersonating a police
Louise Ogborn was always willing to take on extra shifts at McDonald's
in Mount Washington, Ky. Ogborn's mother had health problems and had
recently lost her job, so the 18-year-old did whatever she could to
help make ends meet.
On April 9, 2004, Ogborn offered to work through the restaurant's
evening rush, trying to be helpful and make a few extra dollars.
"I was just going to eat and then clock back in and help until
somebody else came along that could help," she said.
But Ogborn couldn't have known that her noble gesture would turn into
a terrifying ordeal that she says will haunt her for the rest of her
A Startling Accusation
Ogborn was called into assistant manager Donna Summers' cramped office
and told that Summers was on the telephone with a police officer.
"She said, 'Here she is. This is the girl you described,'" said
Ogborn. "She told me to shut the door."
Summers told Ogborn that the officer on the phone had their store
manager on the other line and that he had described her and accused
her of stealing a purse from a customer.
"I was like, 'Donna, I've never done anything wrong,'" Ogborn said. "I
could never steal -- I could never do anything like that. I don't have
it in me."
But inside the back office, which had now become an "interrogation
room," Ogborn's protests fell on deaf ears.
"She said, 'Well, they said it was a little girl that looked like you
in a McDonald's uniform, so it had to be you.'"
It was Ogborn's word against the accusation of a man claiming to be a
cop, and she was given a choice: submit to a search or be escorted to
the police station.
Listening to 'the Voice'
Ogborn was told to empty her pockets and surrender her car keys and
cell phone, which she did. Then the caller demanded that Summers have
Ogborn remove her clothes -- even her underwear -- leaving her with
just a small, dirty apron to cover her naked body.
Summers says she never second-guessed what she was being asked to do,
as she firmly believed the person she was talking to was a police
officer. _Ogborn says she trusted her manager to do what was right,
and she trusted the police._
Because it was a busy Friday night, Summers had to leave the office to
check on the restaurant. The man on the phone demanded that another
employee be left to watch Ogborn until the police arrived and Summers
chose 27-year-old Jason Bradley.
"He [Bradley] takes the phone and they're telling him to have me do
certain things and drop the apron," she said. "He wouldn't have any
part of it."
Bradley walked out in disgust, leaving Summers with no one to watch
Ogborn. Then the caller made an odd request, asking Summers to call her
fiance to have him watch the girl.
Summers says she did as she was told.
"I honestly thought he was a police officer and what I was doing was
the right thing," Summers said. "I thought I was doing what I was
supposed to be doing."
Surveillance video shows Ogborn broke down in tears.
Two Hours of Torment
Within 15 minutes, Summers' fiance, Walter Nix, entered the office
where Ogborn tugged at the small apron that barely covered her top and
exposed her legs up to her buttocks.
Again, Summers says she didn't question the caller and completely
trusted her fiance to be left alone with the girl.
Ogborn says she wanted to run, but that it would have been too
humiliating to run through the restaurant naked.
Nix, a 43-year-old exterminator, began following the caller's
commands, ordering Ogborn to drop her apron, bend over and stand on a
Then -- as ridiculous as it sounds -- he told her to do jumping jacks
to shake loose anything she might be hiding. Ogborn says that was just
the beginning of two more hours of torment.
The demands became more and more bizarre. When Ogborn says that when
she failed to address Nix as "sir," the caller tells him to hit her
violently on the buttocks over and over. At one point on the video,
Ogborn was "spanked" for almost 10 full minutes.
"He told me I was asking too many questions, so he was told to hit
me," she said. "I just said, 'Please don't do this.'"
By the end, red welts could be seen on the woman's body.
During it all, Summers periodically came back to the office, and each
time, Nix threw the apron at Ogborn, telling her to stay quiet.
"I begged her every time she came in the room," Ogborn said. "'Get me
out of here. Please get me out of here."
Ogborn says she even asked the assistant manager to call the police,
but each time, she says, Summers told her, "No, we're still waiting
for the cop."
Summers denies Ogborn ever asked her to call the police or that the girl
pleaded with her.
Ogborn says that after more than three hours of dehumanizing
treatment, Nix -- again on the instructions of the caller -- forced
Ogborn to perform a sexual act.
The caller then told Nix to hand the phone back to Summers and
instructed her to bring in someone else.
This time, she had Thomas Simms, a 58-year-old maintenance man who
worked at the restaurant, get on the phone with the caller, but Simms
refused to comply with the caller's strange demands.
"Tom told me, 'This man is asking 'for her to drop her apron so I can
see her without the apron,'" she recalled. "And I said, 'Do what?'"
Summers frantically called her manager, Lisa Siddons, who the caller
claimed had been on the other line all along. But when Siddons
answered her phone, she said she'd been sleeping.
It was then that Summers realized, she'd been had.
When Mount Washington Police Detective Buddy Stump arrived at the
restaurant, he had Nix arrested and began the process of trying to
figure out who the caller was.
"The first thing I thought about was 'this has got to be somebody on a
pay phone'," he said. "Maybe over [at] Winn Dixie and they're getting
their jollies off at watching all the action and the police roll in."
But thanks to an Internet search by his chief of police, Stump
discovered that calls like this have been going on for more than 10
years. Ogborn, it turns out, was only the latest in a long line of
After a McDonald's employee used the "*69" feature to get a telephone
number for the caller, Stump learned the call had been made from a
supermarket pay phone alright -- but in Panama City, Fla.
Stump discovered that the call was made with an AT&T calling card and,
upon learning that the biggest seller of those cards in Panama City is
Wal-Mart, he contacted local police for help.
A Decade of Calls
It turned out that the Panama City Police Department had received
several calls about investigations in multiple states for similar incidents.
At a McDonald's in Hinesville, Ga., a caller convinced a 55-year-old
janitor to do a cavity search of a 19-year-old cashier, while in
Fargo, N.D., a 16 year old male assistant manager at a local Burger
King strip-searched a 17-year-old female employee.
In Phoenix, a caller had a Taco Bell manager pick out a customer and
then strip-search her. And police in Massachusetts had been looking
for a man who called three Wendy's restaurants near Boston in a single
day. In one case in Boston, police found that the Wendy's manager had
been told by 'the police officer on the phone', to strip search a
customer 'accused of stealing', then unbelievably, the caller
instructed the customer to strip search the manager in return, and
they both complied.
Stump was put in touch with Vic Flaherty, a detective in West
Bridgewater, Mass., investigating the Wendy's calls.
Flaherty told Stump he had traced the card's purchase to the exact
time the caller bought it, but as luck would have it, the security
cameras were pointed toward the front doors -- not the registers --
and didn't capture the sale.
The Big Break
The detectives caught a break when they say they discovered the calling
card used in the Kentucky incident was purchased at a different Wal-Mart
than the one in the Massachusetts case. This time, the cameras in the
store were trained on the cash registers.
"We can see the card go across the scanner -- we see everything," said
Flaherty. "But now we see an individual. We don't know who that is."
When detectives go back to the first surveillance tape to try and
match up the face, they say they believe it is the same man and notice
something else -- he's wearing a uniform.
The uniform is that of CCA -- Corrections Corporation of America -- a
private prison company that runs a jail in Panama City. The warden
identified the man in the video as one of his prison guards --
38-year-old David Stewart.
According to police, a search of Stewart's trailer revealed guns,
police paraphernalia and training manuals. Police also discovered that
Stewart had attended a local police academy and even volunteered as a
deputy with a small police department in western Florida.
"It's like a sigh of relief," Flaherty said. "It's been a long time, now
you actually have a name to a face."
The Calls Stop
David Stewart was extradited to Kentucky and charged with solicitation
of sodomy and impersonating a police officer, and pleaded not guilty.
Clinical psychologist Jeff Gardere says the caller's actions were likely
a way to feed a God-like complex by manipulating his victims
emotionally, physically and sexually. He calls it "virtual voyeurism."
Gardere goes on to say that it was no accident that the caller was
targeting fast food restaurants.
"Everything is by the book," he explained. "This is how you serve it.
This is exactly how you do it. You follow the book -- you're OK. I
believe he picked fast food restaurants because he knew, once you got
them away from that book, _once it was something outside the manual or
the procedures, they would be lost._"
Nix was sentenced in March to five years in prison. He pleaded guilty
to sexual abuse, sexual misconduct, and unlawful imprisonment. Nix
testified that he thought he was following an officer's orders.
Donna Summers was fired after the incident. She was charged with
unlawful imprisonment, and was sentenced to probation after entering
an Alford plea -- a type of guilty plea in which a person does not
admit guilt, but acknowledges the evidence is sufficient for a
conviction. She broke off her engagement to Nix after viewing the
surveillance tapes, and seeing the young worker perform sex on her
In a statement, McDonald's said, "We take this matter very seriously
and through our training try very hard to warn employees about such
McDonald's training manual does include a section that cautions
employees that "no legitimate law enforcement agency would ever ask
you to conduct such a search."
But none of the employees "Primetime" spoke with at the Mount
Washington, Ky., McDonald's say they recall seeing the warning.
Which brings us back to the trial in Bullitt County. David Stewart sat
impassively in the courtroom as witnesses recounted the events of that
fateful night in April 2004. One by one they took the stand.
Donna Summers stated she was just following instructions. Walter Nix,
the man found guilty of sodomy, sat up in his orange prison-issued
jumpsuit, described his conversation and told the court that he felt
like the caller "had control of his mind."
The jury then witnessed first-hand the ordeal that Louise had gone
through as they silently watched the surveillance video, while the
detectives described how they were able to track down Stewart using
the security camera video from WalMart.
Throughout the trial, defense attorney Steve Romines maintained that
police had caught the wrong man.
"They had to get somebody," he said. "When something this, you know,
noffensive and this happen, you know, we've got to blame it on
somebody. It can't be that people just made bad decision. And, you
know, David was the fall guy."
When pressed, during an interview with ABC News, on the issue that
there was video of Stewart buying the calling card at a Walmart,
Romines replied: "That's the key question, was it him?"
Romines also noted that even if one were to find that it was Stewart
who bought the phone cards, it does not prove that it was he who made
the calls to the fast food establishments.
Then a bombshell in the courtroom, detectives testified that they had
recovered a calling card from Stewart's home that they say had been
used to call a burger king in Idaho -- the same restaurant at which a
female manager received a call instructing her to strip search a male
employee. That call had been made nearly a year before the call to
the McDonald's in Kentucky.
Again, Romines argued that this did not prove that he made the calls.
In the end, there apparently wasn't enough evidence to convince the
jury. After two hours of deliberations, Stewart was found not guilty
on all charges.
"We would have liked to have a guilty verdict in this case, 12 people
on the jury said he's not guilty and we respect their decision," a
disappointed Detective Stump stated.
One thing to consider: since Stewart's arrest in June 2004, there have
been no reported hoax calls to fast food restaurants.
Meanwhile, Ogborn is suing McDonald's for $200 million, claiming the
company didn't protect her from the hoax.
Copyright 2007 ABC News Internet Ventures
NOTE: For more telecom/internet/networking/computer news from the
daily media, check out our feature 'Telecom Digest Extra' each day at
http://telecom-digest.org/td-extra/more-news.html . Hundreds of new
articles daily. And, discuss this and other topics in our forum at
For more news and headlines please go to:
[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: And the young lady, Ms. Ogborn,
explained to the court she had always been taught by her parents
to obey her elders. If the charlatan on the phone had claimed to
be a police officer, he obviously had to be. After all, why would
he lie about something like that? Admittedly, these people -- every
damn one of them -- were _DUMB_ as dumb can be; and this scam could
not have been pulled off without the use of Bell's damnable invention
the telephone, but still, I have to feel sorry for Ms. Ogborn and
Ms. Summers (the manager) for being victimized like that.
Consider if you will, how many young people today are equally
decieved by the 'typing they see on their computer', which is the main
reason I keep telling people to meditate on the lessons to be learned
at http://massis.lcs.mit.edu/td-extra/honesty.html. So if you happen
to go in McDonalds sometime soon, be sure to ask for the 'McStrip Search'