Grand jury indicts Hawaiian couple accused of stealing dead babies’ identities, spying for Russia

Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 12:58 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow/Gray News) - Fascinated by espionage, that how’s federal prosecutors are describing a Hawaiian couple accused of secretly working for Russia.

A federal grand jury has indicted Walter Glenn Primrose and his wife, Gwynn Morrison, on multiple charges, including conspiracy against the United States, identity theft and false statements in applying for a passport.

The two were taken into custody last week following a raid on their home, and a judge has ordered Primrose to be held without bond, even though he doesn’t have a criminal record.

A detention hearing for Morrison is set for Tuesday.

In federal court Thursday, prosecutors said investigators found coded messages, sets of invisible ink and maps of military facilities in the home. Recordings of the couple talking to each other, after their arrest, were also consistent with espionage, authorities allege.

“No one can underestimate the amount of pressure that a defendant will feel in the FBI building with a handcuff to the wall,” retired FBI agent Tom Simon said. “And so we use that opportunity to see if people slip and forget their training.”

Hawaii News Now cameras caught Special Agent Dennis Thomas, of the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, heading into the grand jury room to testify ahead of the indictment.

Thomas is the agent on the case, according to the criminal complaint.

The bombshell case broke Tuesday after federal court records were unsealed.

At Primrose’s detention hearing in federal court Thursday, the government said the couple met in high school and had stolen the identities of babies, who had died in Texas in the 1980s.

They then allegedly used those identities to get Social Security cards, passports and driver’s licenses.

Walter Glenn Primrose and wife Gwynn Morrison are accused of being Russian spies.
Walter Glenn Primrose and wife Gwynn Morrison are accused of being Russian spies.(Court Documents)

The government’s evidence includes photos of the couple in KGB uniforms. Morrison has claimed through her attorney that the uniform belonged to a friend and that they tried it on for fun.

“She wants the world to know that she is not a spy,” court-appointed attorney Megan Kau said.

But prosecutors say their subject matter expert determined the Polaroid pictures were taken in the 1980s and that the jacket appeared to be an authentic KGB uniform.

In a criminal complaint, the government alleges Primrose fraudulently enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1994. After retiring from the Coast Guard in 2016, he was working as a Department of Defense contractor until his arrest.

“Anybody can get a map to Pearl Harbor that shows major roads,” said Kevin O’Grady, a former military prosecutor.

But someone with secret clearance can actually get onto those roads and “go to places the public is not able to go to,” O’Grady said, adding that intelligence can provide enemies with bits of important information.

Simon said the government had likely been tracking the couple for some time and he expects additional evidence will be revealed as the case moves forward.

“The use of invisible ink seems archaic considering the technology today and encryption but who knows? These people have been doing this a long time,” said Simon, owner of Simon Investigations.

“Obviously, it’s nothing that adds to the idea that these people are just innocent citizens who like to play dress up as KGB officers at family parties,” Simon said. “The FBI counter-intelligence agents are very smart and very thorough. They’re not going to make a case with this impact based on someone playing dress-up at a party.”

Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now via Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved.