Joplin woman says she was victim of mistaken identity at Houston - KOAM TV 7

Joplin woman says she was victim of mistaken identity at Houston airport

Joplin, MO -

Parts of Cindy Cheesbrough's Cancun trip with her fiance were like heaven.

"I enjoyed it, yeah, especially the day we swam with the dolphins.  The second day we were there.  That was awesome," says Cheesbrough.

But on the way home to Joplin, she was treated like a criminal.  No, really, that's what she says happened.

"I'm a Christian.  So, I did a lot of talking to God when I was there," says Cheesbrough.

Cheesbrough spent six days in jail after inside a holding cell at Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport.  As soon as she got off the plane, Cheesbrough says airport security gave her a cold welcome.

"They asked if I was Cynthia Bayless Cheesbrough, and I said well yeah.  And they said well, we cannot let you go through customs because we have a warrant for your arrest out of Farmington, Missouri," says Cheesbrough.

Turns out, "Bayless" is Cheesbrough's maiden name, before her last marriage.  Cheesbrough paid $3,500 for bail.

"We didn't know any bail bondsmen.  I got information from a prisoner who was in a cell with me," says Cheesbrough.

Cheesbrough learned, after a long bus ride home from Houston, that someone working in the St. Francois County, Missouri justice system entered the same birth dates for her and a different woman named Cindy Bayless.

"Federal courts have stated that counties need to have a system to double check the accuracy of cases that they file," says Josh Roberts, Cheesbrough's attorney.

Cheesbrough's attorney says he's doing what he can to receive retribution without going to court.

"The courts across the United States have dealt with cases like this, and juries have been giving anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 an hour as compensation.  She was there for six days, so a reasonable range of this would be in the vicinity of $350,000 to $750,000.  We wrote a demand letter asking for much less than even the lower end of that," says Roberts.

One of St. Francois County's prosecutors told us he can't comment on this matter, since no lawsuit has been filed.  Cheesbrough says even though the county has corrected its mistake, her mind is telling her otherwise.

"I don't want to travel.  I'm scared to go anywhere, I kid you not," says Cheesbrough.

Cheesbrough says she hasn't gotten so much as an apology from St. Francois County.  Her attorney says the county's insurance company seems to be the roadblock in this case.  Cheesbrough is willing to go to court if no settlement can be reached.


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