All these efforts failed. Finally, she decided to submit her fingerprints as the first step of an official application for a Social Security card.
That's when Stewart's life in Vancouver began to unravel.
Exposed — and a Community Shocked
When Stewart submitted fingerprints, an FBI check matched her prints with someone named "Stephanie Williams," who had been arrested in Pennsylvania five years earlier for filing a false police report. "Williams" had told police at the time that she was on the run from a cult and pornography ring — a story that sounded very familiar to the Vancouver police officers who had met Stewart.
Following a trail from town to town, Vancouver police concluded that Stewart had used several aliases in at least eight states over a 15-year period. In North Carolina, she was known as Emily Kara Williams; in Texas, she used the name Cara Williams; in Idaho she was Cara Davis and Cara Lewis; in Oregon she was known as Keili Smitt.
Everywhere she went, Stewart posed as a teenage runaway, sought shelter at a church, told tales of cult rituals, abuse and pornography.
Ultimately police traced Stewart back to the name on her birth certificate: Treva Joyce Throneberry, born May 18, 1969, in Electra, Texas.
In May 2001, four years after arriving in Vancouver, Stewart was arrested for perjury and theft, and her bizarre story of deception made headlines in the small town and nationwide. Vancouver residents and Stewart's friends — some of whom had gone away to college — were stunned.
"On the refrigerator was a note that says, 'Ken, your Mom called. … Brie's been arrested. She's 31 years old,' " Dunn recalls. "What the heck happened to me?, I thought. This person who I gave everything to doesn't exist. It's a ghost. I dated a ghost."
An Easy Conviction
At her trial, Stewart furiously denied that she was Treva Throneberry, despite the fingerprints, various personal ID cards and photos that investigators and prosecutors presented as evidence. She insisted she was Brianna Stewart.
Kenneth Muscatel, a mental health expert who examined Stewart but did not testify at the trial, said she appeared to be trying to reject her past.
"There's a sense of being empty inside, so empty inside that being yourself is undesirable, and making a new persona is desirable to being yourself," he told Primetime.
Stewart fired two court-appointed attorneys, turned down plea bargain offers, and chose to represent herself at trial. It took only four hours for jurors convict her on all seven counts of felony theft and perjury. She was sentenced to three years in a state prison.
Treva Throneberry Denied
Released in June 2003 after serving two years and 3 months of her sentence, Stewart is now a free woman. She continues to insist she is a 21-year-old named Brianna Stewart, and not 34-year-old Treva Throneberry.
Stewart told Primetime that the DNA tests and fingerprint results proving her true identity are all mistaken. (DNA evidence was never presented at Stewart's trial because the prosecution didn't want to pay for the expert who conducted the testing to fly in from Baltimore. The prosecution also felt it had enough evidence in the photos, personal identification cards and fingerprints.)