Restaurant Shift Turns Into Nightmare
An Extra Shift at McDonald's Becomes a Terrifying Interrogation
Nov. 10, 2005
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 life.
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.
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 fianc?? 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," said Summers. "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 fifteen minutes, Summers' fianc??, 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 fianc?? 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 chair.
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 victims.
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 -- 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. By early 2004, there had been more than 70 cases of hoax phone calls to fast food restaurants, dating as far back as 1994.
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 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.
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 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 find 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 has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he faces up to 16 years in prison.
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 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."
Since Stewart's arrest in the summer of 2004, there have been no more reported incidents of hoax calls to fast food restaurants.
"This tells me we got our man," said Stump.
Nix has pleaded not guilty to charges of sodomy and sexual assault.
Donna Summers was fired after the incident and has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge. She broke off her engagement to Nix after viewing the surveillance tapes.
Meanwhile, Ogborn is suing McDonald's and Summers for false imprisonment.
In a statement, McDonald's said, "We take this matter very seriously and through our training try very hard to warn employees about such schemes."
McDonald's training manual does include a section which 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 ever recall seeing the warning.