Wednesday, December 5, 2012

At least she isn't scamming at the moment...

A woman who allegedly attempted an adoption scam while living in Kittanning was apprehended last week in Ohio after eluding authorities in two states.
Amy Slanina, 33, was reportedly mired in a similar scam when an investigation revealed her actual identity and previous offenses.
According to the Ashland Times-Gazette, Slanina was taken into custody at a home in Ashland, Ohio, and is being held in the county jail for a probation violation while local officials consider further charges.
Slanina, who had been on the lam for more than two months, has an extensive criminal history of lying about her identity and pretending to be pregnant and abused in an effort to defraud victims of money and services.
She already was wanted in Knox County, Ohio, for a parole violation stemming from a 2010 scam when she used a false name last December to gain shelter at Helping All Victims In Need (HAVIN) in Kittanning.
Claiming to be the battered wife of a Pittsburgh police officer, Slanina used a cell phone and computer at the facility to communicate with Richard and Rebecca Vest — a couple from Idaho who believed Slanina was pregnant and willing to let them adopt her baby.
Authorities at HAVIN became suspicious of Slanina’s story, and Kittanning police arrested the woman on Dec. 30 for diversion of services, theft by deception and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Although Slanina had convinced the Vests to travel to Kittanning, District Judge James Owen dismissed two counts of disorderly conduct the following month because there was no proof she had asked the couple for money or put them in danger.
In April, Slanina appeared before Judge James Panchik which was to result in her extradition to Ohio.
However, Armstrong authorities were unable to locate her in September when she was again set to stand trial in Armstrong County for theft of services against HAVIN.
The Associated Press reported that a court summons mailed to the Ohio Reformatory for Women — where Slanina was thought to be incarcerated — was returned to sender with the word “Released” written on it.
Armstrong County District Attorney Scott Andreassi could not be reached on Tuesday for comment on the recent arrest, nor on how Slanina was able to disappear from authorities.
She surfaced last month at a shelter in Ashland in the midst of a similar scam. Slanina reportedly had told staff there she was again pregnant and had been abused by a police officer in Columbus.
Story unravels
She was attempting to file a PFA order against the man when authorities soon discovered he doesn’t exist and Slanina’s story unraveled. She was arrested at a home in Green Township on Nov. 30.
Jo Ellen Bowman, executive director of HAVIN, said she’s relieved Slanina is finally behind bars.
“I was advised she was once again engaged in her false pregnancies and adoption scam,” said Bowman.
“It’s unconscionable that she continues to inflict emotional pain on victims who believe she is pregnant and that they believe they will have the privilege of adopting her nonexistent child. I’m grateful to law enforcement for working so diligently to hold Amy Slanina accountable.”
Bowman said Slanina will eventually be returned to Armstrong County to face charges

Monday, December 3, 2012

The monster continues to hunt and hurt

When does it end?  Does she ever stop?  When will lawmakers listen?

When I began my blog a few years ago I did so for two reasons.  #1 to help bring more public awareness to adoption scam and help protect other hopeful adoptive parents from being devastated  and  #2 to heal myself and release the painful scars Amy Ost left on me.

As time passed I wrote in spurts and then pretty much stopped.  My blog reads, for the most part, as my personal story and when I started reliving the emotional rape I suffered I would uncover bits and pieces I had forgotten or rather stored away as not to remember. I got to a point where I couldn't continue.  I honestly feel very selfish for quitting because perhaps I could have helped keep just one person, like me, from getting her heart ripped out by Amy and other adoption scammers.

Last year (2011), Amy conned a precious family from Idaho who contacted me and we all worked with law enforcement to try to bring her to justice.  But what happened?  She got away with it.  Again.  Because Amy isn't afraid to work with attorneys or agencies, her scams are not limited to the internet.  I shutter to think about all the people she has destroyed with her vicious, evil lies and games.  She doesn't even stop with preying on potential adoptive parents.  She cons men out of money and preys on other women.  She scours them out as a lover, reveals she is pregnant and they will be a family and steals their money and hearts.  She portrays herself as a helpless victim of rape and abuse and houses herself in shelters...shelters that struggle to help those who really need the help.

Now, she is at it again.  She is parading all over the country as I speak, emotionally raping women's dreams of becoming a mother to her baby.  She is stealing from shelters and those who feel sorry for her and want to help her in some instances, raise her baby.  She warns women to watch out for scammers because there was a big one uncovered in Nashville a few years ago.  What is perhaps most disturbing to me is that now, according to her more recent victims,  it's become more of an emotional game than a financial prowl.  She won't take much, if anything, financially from those she promises the baby to.  It's not a matter of "buying a baby" for these potential parents, it's about helping the women who wants to give them her child.  It doesn't matter what educational background, intellect,  financial stability, or lifestyle...Amy is a seasoned, well versed professional in destroying the lives of women who long for a child.  Once Amy told me she did it because she wanted to be like me and have the perfect life with a husband, house and kids.  She told me she wanted to be loved and needed by someone.  It's a sick mental game and after seeing her personally after scamming me, she still didn't realize what she had done.  I've said it a million times and I'll say it again.  Her eyes were empty.

As time passes and I come into contact with the women she has hurt, I try to facilitate change and knowledge, but she slides right through the cracks again becoming more stealthy and knowledgeable to the laws and ways of the court in the process.  She has made a mockery of potential parents, potential birth mothers and women who have placed their child for adoption, men and women she has built relationships with, the goodwill of shelters and those who have given her financial help and yes, our government.  Where is the passion?  Where is the anger and outburst that occurred after my story aired?  After the Vest's story aired?  Where is the caring from lawmakers to protect their citizens?  Per FBI, unless it's over 10k there is no case.  Law officials shake their heads because they literally have to search for a way to charge her and after all their work, it's thrown out of court.  According to public defender Chuck Pascal argued that one of Amy's victims weren't physically offended or otherwise endangered by Slanina's lie. "She took on a persona and lied and, as a result of that lie — what? — somebody flew here from Idaho? So what?" Pascal said. "If I were to start criminalizing when one person lies and, as a result of that lie, other people take an action, then everybody's in jail."
So this is what we are up against, which leaves me with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. 

Another Holiday....time for Amy to resurface

November 10, 2012

Pregnancy scammer on the lam

KITTANNING — A woman with a criminal history of scamming people into showering her with attention and money by pretending to be pregnant or telling other sob stories is on the lam again, this time accused of staying at a battered women’s shelter in western Pennsylvania under false pretenses.

Amy Slanina, 33, was charged with theft of services after staying at the Helping All Victims in Need Shelter in Kittanning on Dec. 4-30 of last year and claiming to be married to a Pittsburgh police officer who abused her.

Slanina was supposed to stand trial or plead guilty in September, but, as she has other times when she’s perpetrated other scams in several states in the past, she’s disappeared.

A court summons for that appearance, mailed to the Ohio Reformatory for Women, was returned to sender with the word “Released” written in bold, black felt-tip marker. How and why western Pennsylvania authorities lost track of Slanina isn’t clear, and the man most responsible for tracking her down, Armstrong County District Attorney Scott Andreassi, hasn’t talked.

He did not respond to repeated telephone messages, nor a request for comment made at his office Thursday.

HAVIN’s executive director, Jo Ellen Bowman, said she’s concerned that law enforcement officials don’t take scammers such as Slanina seriously enough because their crimes seem relatively minor. Slanina’s free stay cost the shelter $1,250 and is considered a misdemeanor theft in Pennsylvania because it involved less than $2,000.

“But what may be insignificant to some may be a significant amount to others,” Bowman said, noting her shelter’s state funding increased by $2,000 for the first time in nine years. But there’s more than just money at stake.

“You can’t put a dollar amount on the emotional impact that woman inflicted and the pain she inflicted,” Bowman said.

While staying at HAVIN, Slanina struck up an online friendship with an Idaho couple whom she convinced to fly to Pennsylvania so they could adopt the baby she claimed to be carrying. Kittanning police initially charged Slanina in that case too, only to withdraw the charges because no money changed hands, so her tall tale wasn’t a crime under Pennsylvania law.

Try telling that to the Idaho couple, Barry and Rebecca Vest, who wonder what makes Slanina tick. “Are you that miserable that you have to make other people miserable?” Rebecca Vest said.

Or ask Jen Asbury, a Morgantown, W.Va., woman Slanina befriended and lived with last year. Slanina had convinced Asbury, a former Army reservist, that she was pregnant and wanted to marry Asbury and raise the child.

Police and Slanina’s targets say she gets away with the pregnancy claims because of her convincing line and her 5-foot-4, 175-pound build. The last time Asbury saw her in November 2011, Slanina said she was leaving to visit her newborn in a neonatal intensive care unit where, Slanina claimed, she had given birth prematurely during a trip to Pittsburgh weeks before.

A few weeks later, Slanina was busted for her stay at HAVIN and Asbury was recounting her story to the AP.

“It just amazes me that she does these terrible things and while it may not be a crime, per se, she emotionally rapes people,” Asbury said last week. She continues to scour the Internet for clues as to where Slanina might be.

Slanina was jailed in Kittanning until March, when a judge reduced her bond so she could be released and return to Ohio, where she was wanted on a parole violation.

She had met a Fredericktown, Ohio, woman online and persuaded the woman and her elderly mother to let her move in with them in 2010 and to lend her money to pay child support for children she doesn’t have.

Slanina promised to repay the women from “millions of dollars” she claimed to have inherited but said the money was frozen in a bank account due to red tape. The Fredericktown women believed her, right up to the day in February 2010 that Slanina borrowed the elderly woman’s car to “run some errands” and never returned.

Slanina served a few months in prison and was paroled in July 2011, before she was sent back to the Ohio prison in June because her Pennsylvania arrest violated her parole there.

Slanina was released again in August, but authorities in Pennsylvania hadn’t gotten a court order that she be returned, and she hasn’t been heard from since. She’s not in touch with Ohio correctional authorities who list her as a “violator at large,” and she’s a fugitive in Pennsylvania, where a judge issued a bench warrant in

September after she missed a court appearance.

Bowman has contacted every battered women’s shelter in Pennsylvania to ensure Slanina won’t find a home in any of them if she does come back.

“To misuse a system that is here to help people – in this type of way – is just really offensive,” Bowman said. “I just hope she gets stopped. ... I hope at some point, someone considers the cumulative effect of what she’s done and makes her pay for it.”

Slanina’s public defender, Preston Younkins, wouldn’t comment on the HAVIN charges, except to say he had been hoping to work out a plea bargain before Slanina skipped.

As to her whereabouts, “At this point, you have about the same information I have,” he said.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A brush with a painful past....

It's been over eleven years and the raw pain caught me off guard today.

I was on a mission when I ran into Hobby Lobby today and was only thinking of what I needed to get when a woman lightly patted my arm to get my attention.  The face was familiar, but I was drawing a blank.  She said, "I'm so glad things worked out for you."  I said thank you and walked down the parallel isle pondering who this woman was.  She then peered around the corner and asked, "do you still have Jordan's ultrasound?" 

Every ounce of breath in my body left and I came face to face with this woman who had destroyed me so many years ago.  It was "Dee".  But actually, I'll call her by her real name, Diane. (see chapter two). 

Just to recap, Diane sought me out before Kennedy was born right after I had suffered through four years of infertility and miscarriages.  She asked me to adopt her unborn niece's child.  We went through all the legal paperwork and even though the pregnant woman didn't ask for money, Diane was constantly asking/demanding for money.  We never gave her any.  When the baby was born, Diane kept the baby and I found out about a month later she was announcing to everyone she worked with that she was adopting her niece's baby and needed to purchase baby items.

I've never came face to face with her until today...eleven years later.  And then when I did come in contact with her she asked me for the ultrasound?  Are you kidding me?

 I automatically responded "why would I have that?"

 She said, "because I gave it to you." 

I said, "you ripped my heart out."  I quickly stumbled away in a daze, in complete shock.  How could it be that after so many years, the pain felt so raw and real?  If you have ever had a miscarriage, lost a child, or lost a child through adoption, you know the answer to this question....because it's a loss you never fully recover from.  It's a pain that runs deep into your soul and changes your life forever.  Yes, I"m thankful for the way things turned out.  I'm thankful for my children and I know that if this adoption had worked out, I probably wouldn't have had my precious babies.  I know this was God's perfect plan and will for my life.  But, it's still a pain that never fully heals.

My jaw tightened, my teeth chattered, my heart was pounding out of my chest and I was shaking all over in a panic attack.  I knew this was my only chance to say something for myself.  I walked back over to Diane.

"How dare you ask for an ultrasound.  You destroyed me.  You ripped out my heart.  It was all about  money.  Every day you were asking or demanding for money and thank God, I never gave it to you.  You knew you were keeping him the whole time.  It was a game to you.  God help you."  She stood there and denied and I walked out of the store as quickly as I could.

I sat in the protection of my car gripping the steering wheel and trying to get hold of myself before I tried to drive.  The tears wouldn't come, but I sat in the silence in shock trying to take in what just happened.  It was obvious Diane didn't understand, nor care about the depth of the pain she inflicted upon me.  She thought that just because I had children I was "over it." What she thought or how she felt, however, doesn't matter. 

I realized today, my life was forever changed by that promise of the little baby eleven years ago.  After miscarriages and infertility, he was the answer to my dreams and prayers of being a mother. His nursery was ready and our bags were packed for the hospital.   I loved him.  I was in love with him.  I still am. "Chandler" was another baby I lost.  Another baby that slipped out of my hands, but never out of my heart.

God, I pray today for "Chandler."  I pray he feels loved and cherished throughout his life.  And God, I pray for those of us who live with the silent pain of lost babies.  Continue to heal us and help us grow and reach out to others who need our words of encouragement, our support and our understanding.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My thoughts on the latest AP reports

Ok, so on the first ap report I posted yesterday, I re-read it several times and the more times I read it, the more I disliked it.

Rebecca's comment about having had two birth mothers change their minds previously and thought she could spot red flags makes it sounds like pregnant woman who consider adoption and change their minds are scamming. Infuriates me. I'm fail to see how it's so difficult to differentiate between a scam and a pregnant woman who changes her mind. Also, the writer made no mention of previous alias names or the fact that she was caught on national tv a few years ago....even though I gave him tons of information on her. Lastly, he didn't put officer greg's number to contact for her latest victims to contact. I think thet only good thing that will come from this is the vests will end up with another baby. Maybe I'm just tired of fighting this losing battle...

Then the second story came out today. In this one, stories are put with victims names and it gives a background as to what Amy's past has been.

I actually quoted "nothing's going to change until somebody pitches a fit." Oh. my. goodness. I really said that. Classy, huh? I can't help it. I start thinking about her and I lose my everloving mind. I'm happiest with the simple quote of "
"It's not good for someone who wants to adopt, but it's not good for these women who want to put up their children for adoption. They're looked at suspiciously and that's not fair either." That's been my point for so long.....It's not just about the potential adoptive parents, it's about the women considering placing thier babies for adoption or those women who plan on adoption and change their minds afterward. Could this really happen?  Could there be enough public outrage to get laws and regulations in place?  Time will tell....

Read more: Woman's trail of phony pregnancies ends in Armstrong County jail - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

AP Article #2. I like this one

Woman's trail of phony pregnancies ends in Armstrong County jail

Amy Slanina is sitting in Armstrong County Jail on charges that she stole the services of a women's shelter by claiming to be the battered wife of a cop who shelter officials eventually determined didn't exist.
But that arrest has shone a spotlight on her history, tracked down through court records and interviews conducted by The Associated Press, of pretending to be pregnant so couples seeking to adopt children or even female lovers will shower her with attention and sometimes money, clothes and shelter.
Police in Kittanning briefly charged her with scamming an Idaho couple whom Slanina contacted, claiming to be pregnant. The couple, Barry and Rebecca Vest, traveled to Pennsylvania five days after Christmas hoping to adopt Slanina's baby, only to find Slanina in custody on the women's shelter charges — and not pregnant.
But Slanina, 32, has avoided prosecution for faking pregnancies. One reason, Kittanning police and other authorities say, is that most states, like Pennsylvania, don't have laws criminalizing false adoption offers.
As a result, Slanina has left an angry trail of dupes in her wake and been arrested only when authorities suspected her of some other crime related to her fake pregnancies.
Angry victims
None of her victims claims to be madder than Lori Coleman, who has doggedly pursued Slanina, detailing her experiences online.
"Nothing's going to change until somebody pitches a fit," said Coleman of Cleveland, Tenn., a 36-year-old adoptive mother of two children. "It's not good for someone who wants to adopt, but it's not good for these women who want to put up their children for adoption. They're looked at suspiciously and that's not fair either."
Coleman met Slanina more than six years ago by responding to an ad from someone claiming to be pregnant and wanting to give up her baby for adoption. They met for lunch in 2005. The woman introduced herself as Christy Tidwell.
Coleman and her husband, whose adopted daughter was 3 at the time, were so happy to have found another prospective child that they hired a Nashville attorney, through whom they gave the woman $800 for living expenses.
About a month later, though, "she fell off the face of the earth," Coleman said.
NBC's "Dateline" knew of similar stories from other adoptive couples in North Carolina and Texas. Producers got Coleman to lure Slanina, whom she knew as Tidwell, before the show's cameras. She 'fessed up on an episode that aired in July 2006.
Slanina was never charged with scamming Coleman. But she was charged with identity theft when the real Christy Tidwell contacted authorities after she saw the "Dateline" episode.
Coleman testified as part of that case and learned, along with investigators, that Tidwell and Slanina were romantically involved. Slanina led Tidwell to believe they would raise the child together. "Dateline" even shot video of the women shopping for baby clothes.
The phone number listed for Tidwell in court documents was disconnected, as were three of four numbers listed for her in Tennessee phone directories. Messages left at the fourth number went unreturned.
Coleman recalled that her scammer pleaded guilty to identity theft and to stealing a truck that she borrowed from someone, supposedly to attend a funeral in Ohio. Court records confirm this and show she was sentenced to more than two years in jail in January 2007.
Early relationship
Slanina claimed to be born in 1983 when she met Jen Asbury, a 25-year-old Army reservist from Morgantown, W.Va., in September.
Asbury said she answered a Craigslist ad from a woman who said she was a 28-year-old nurse in Ohio who was pregnant with twins and looking for a relationship.
The relationship was "wonderful" while they spent a month text messaging and telephoning. They spoke of marriage and raising the twins.
But once Slanina arrived to live with Asbury at her parents' home in October, it wasn't so great anymore.
"She's very good at what she does," Asbury said. "She threatens to leave a lot if there's something she doesn't like. I'm talking like a daily basis."
Friends of Asbury's parents showered the family with baby clothes and other items upon learning their daughter and Amy planned to marry and then return to raise the twins Slanina claimed to be carrying.
That's when Slanina's behavior got really bizarre, Asbury said.
Days after she moved in, she claimed her mother in Pittsburgh had died. Slanina left for about a week, then called to say she gave birth prematurely. The twins were said to be in intensive care, and Slanina returned to live with Asbury and her parents for about another month.
Then, she said one of the twins was being released from the hospital and she was going to pick him up, Asbury said.
Asbury said Slanina took some running shoes, $170 worth of DVDs and Blu-ray movies and a digital camera, but left behind the baby-related gifts.
"I never heard from her after that."
Asbury suffers from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder she said stems from her service in Mosul in 2009. Asbury said she stopped seeking treatment and taking her medication while Slanina was part of her life.
"She loves to isolate whoever she's dating," she said. But Slanina's attempts to keep Asbury from her parents backfired, and Asbury believes that's why she left.
"She's a hopeless sociopath," Asbury said. "I don't think she has any feelings."
Legal trouble
Less than two weeks later, Slanina showed up about 85 miles away in Kittanning's battered women's shelter.
But that's not the first time law enforcement officials traced her to Western Pennsylvania. She was arrested in a Pittsburgh suburb in February 2010 on a warrant out of Ohio.
Months earlier, Slanina began another online friendship with Lisa Booth and her elderly mother, Helen, in Fredericktown, Ohio. Slanina told them she was pregnant with twins through artificial insemination and recently removed from an abusive relationship with another woman, court records show. The Booths didn't respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment.
Slanina sent three expensive flower arrangements to the women — a flower shop later called to complain to the Booths that they were purchased with stolen checks and credit cards — and moved in with them in January 2010. She persuaded Helen to lend her money to pay child support so she could avoid going to jail.
Slanina told the Booths she had millions of dollars from an inheritance, but that it was in a frozen bank account. Outlandish as that sounds, the Booths were emotionally drawn to Slanina — Helen Booth told Slanina to call her "Mom" — and committed to helping her.
But on Feb. 8, 2010, she borrowed Helen's 1997 Ford Taurus to "run some errands" and never came back.
"You find a victim that falls for your sob story, take all their personal belongings and money, then emotionally rape them," Lisa Booth told Slanina before a judge sentenced her to 17 months in prison on grand theft auto and other charges in June 2010. "In my case, you shut me off from my friends and family then convinced me to quit my job because you claimed to have a large inheritance to finance a business we could run."
Told of the most recent allegations against Slanina in Pennsylvania, Chip McConville, the prosecutor in the Ohio case, said, "That would be true to her old playbook."
Slanina is on probation in the Ohio case and faces a probation violation that could mean more jail time once the Pennsylvania case is resolved.
The Vests are hoping for a long sentence, but what they'd really like is an explanation.
"What did you get from this?" Rebecca Vest said, noting that Slanina gained nothing, materially, by lying to them. "Since you have a history of this, why can't you change? Why can't you get a job like everybody else? Why do you make a living off of causing other people pain?
"Are you that miserable that you have to make other people miserable?"

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Latest AP Story on Amy. Where's the Justice?

In light of this latest story on Amy, I'm praying people get mad and things change.

Woman jailed in Pa. has trail of fake pregnancies seeking attention from couples, partners

JOE MANDAK Associated Press

First Posted: February 19, 2012 - 12:33 pm

Last Updated: February 19, 2012 - 12:33 p

PITTSBURGH — Barry and Rebecca Vest are simple folks from rural, Rigby, Idaho — "middle America," Barry calls it — who can't conceive children and want more than anything to adopt a second child.

But the Vests also can't conceive of why a woman contacted them online in December, pretended in text messages to be both a pregnant single mother and the father of the unborn child, and then conned the couple into making a last-minute trip to a western Pennsylvania hospital five days after Christmas for a birth that wasn't.

And what they really don't understand is why that isn't a crime.

The Vests believe they are just the latest victims of the woman, known to Pennsylvania authorities as 32-year-old Amy Slanina.

Court records and interviews obtained by The Associated Press show Slanina has a history of pretending to be pregnant and targeting unsuspecting couples like the Vests or, in some cases, female lovers whom Slanina convinces to someday help raise the children. In return, she's showered with attention, affection and sometimes money, clothes, and shelter.

Slanina is 5-foot-4 and 175 pounds, according to county jail records, where she's awaiting trial on charges of staying at a battered women's shelter under false pretenses. Those who've met Slanina say her build is such that she could believably claim to be six to seven months pregnant.

Others, like the Vests, were convinced she was pregnant sight unseen during fast-moving friendships carried out through text messages, phone calls and e-mails. Slanina has a gift for being liked, and trusted, quickly.

"She's the true definition of a predator: She seeks out an adoptive couple and emotionally abuses them," Barry Vest said in a telephone interview.

"It just is a sick, sick game. And, unfortunately, the law isn't going to stop her, but hopefully her other bad habits are going to incarcerate her for a while."


Slanina has been jailed since her arrest Dec. 30 in Kittanning, a borough of roughly 4,200 people some 35 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

She arrived there Dec. 4, claiming to be the abused wife of a Pittsburgh police officer. Jo Ellen Bowman, executive director of Helping All Victims in Need, called police after weeks of digging showed the abusive patrolman husband simply didn't exist.

But by then, Slanina had used the shelter's computer and a cell phone to contact the Vests.

Rebecca Vest has had two birth mothers back out of privately arranged adoptions since adopting newborn Owen, who will be 5 in April. Vest thought she knew how to spot red flags. Then Slanina began emailing and texting the couple, using only the first name Aimee, through their adoptive parent profile online.

She asked about such procedures as sending her medical records to their adoption agency.

"She knew exactly what to say," Rebecca said.

The conversations seemed so promising that the Vests arranged for their adoption caseworker to meet her, but before they could, Slanina "conveniently went into labor," Rebecca said.

Slanina originally told the Vests she was due Jan. 17. She suddenly texted Dec. 29 to say she was in labor, and even pretended to have the baby's father provide updates. She said his name was Mike.

"Virtually the last test message we get from 'Mike' is, 'She's in labor, she's got an epidural, she's at 7½'" centimeters, Barry Vest said.

"When she was 'Mike,' it read like a different personality," Barry Vest said of the messages. For example, Mike's text messages included misspelled words and different phrases than Aimee's.

With Slanina, "it was basically to live in some fantasy that she wants to live in," Koprivnak said. "To be quite honest with you, there's no statute that deals with this kind of behavior."

The Vests drove more than three hours to catch a red-eye flight from Salt Lake City to New York, then connect to Pittsburgh. The Vests didn't panic when they stopped hearing from "Aimee and Mike," figuring they were busy and anxious about the birth as the Vests were rushing to the hospital in a rented car.

At the hospital, they grew tired of waiting. Finally, Barry Vest went to the nurse's station to ask where Aimee and Mike were.

"The nurse said, 'I'm sorry, we're not having any births here,'" Barry Vest said.

Rebecca broke down.


Still, the Vests had no idea they were being scammed. "A birth mother has the right to change her mind," Barry Vest said.

Then, a Kittanning police officer called to explain what he'd pieced together from Slanina, Bowman and the phones and computers he examined at the women's shelter.

Slanina was accused of using the phone and computer to defraud the couple, but that charge was dropped. The couple spent about $2,500 on their hastily arranged trip to Pennsylvania, but because Slanina didn't ask them for money directly, they weren't victimized under the law.

So the officer, Greg Koprivnak, filed a different charge, disorderly conduct resulting in physically offensive conditions. But public defender Chuck Pascal argued at that the Vests weren't physically offended or otherwise endangered by Slanina's lie.

The judge dismissed that charge, too.

Slanina remains jailed only on charges of stealing the women's shelter's services. Her public defender in that case didn't return repeated calls trying to get a message to Slanina.

But Pascal contends Slanina didn't commit a crime against the Vests, even though he doesn't dispute the police account of what she did.

"She took on a persona and lied and, as a result of that lie — what? — somebody flew here from Idaho? So what?" Pascal said. "If I were to start criminalizing when one person lies and, as a result of that lie, other people take an action, then everybody's in jail."

Koprivnak acknowledges that a law doesn't exist, at least not in Pennsylvania, to address this situation.

With Slanina, "it was basically to live in some fantasy that she wants to live in," Koprivnak said. "To be quite honest with you, there's no statute that deals with this kind of behavior."

No state laws criminalize a false adoption offer, confirmed Anne Bale, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, which regulates adoptions. In part it's because Pennsylvania law gives biological mothers up to 30 days to change their mind after birth. That makes it hard for legislators to differentiate between a fraudulent adoption offer and a reluctant birth mother.

As for cases like Slanina's, where there is no baby, it's still tricky because lawmakers are loathe to pass laws that apply only in rare situations.

"This woman is really awful," Bale said. "But from a government standpoint ... it's an advocacy situation, where people have to get mad enough to demand change."