Laura Oglesby, 48—an Arkansas woman living in Howell County, Missouri—was arrested in August 2018 for stealing her estranged daughter's identity.
Oglesby pleaded guilty Monday, December 6, 2021 to stealing and using her daughter's identity to run up nearly $20,000 in student and other debts in order to return to college and live as a woman in her 20s.
Oglesby was already on the run from fraud charges in Arkansas when she moved to Mountain View, Missouri in 2016. Using her 24-year-old daughter Lauren Asleigh Hays’ birth certificate, she got a Social Security card and Missouri driver’s license.
When investigators in Missouri caught up with her in 2018, they found Oglesby had stolen and assumed her estranged daughter's name and identity for at least the past two years.
It all began when Mountain View, Missouri Detective Stetson Schwien got a call from authorities from Jonesboro, Arkansas in 2018. Arkansas detectives were searching for three years for Laura Oglesby who disapeared under a full U.S bench warrant for financial identity fraud.
Arkansas detectives were working on information Oglesby was using her daughter's identity while living and working in the Mountain View area.
Detective Schwien's research found skmeone using the name Lauren Ashleigh Hays held a valid Missouri driver's license and a Social Security number linked to Hays' name. A comparison of the Missouri license photo for Hays with photos of Oglesby showed similar facial structure and the same crooked tooth.
Det. Schwien learned Hays/Oglesby worked at the public library and used a traffic stop while she was driving to work to apprehend the fugitive.
"She told me that she had taken her daughter's birth certificate, came to Missouri and was able to obtain a new identity using that birth certificate."
"Laura Oglesby was able to obtain a new social security card using the birth certificate. She took that social security card and applied for a Missouri driver's license."
"She took the exam and obtained a driver's license. Through that she was able to work at various local businesses and actually obtain employment through the city of Mountain View."
Investigators say Olgesby also used her daughter's identity to gain around $17,000 in federal financial assistance for Southwest Baptist University in Mountain View where she attended under her daughter's name.
A spokesperson for the university stated:
“We were saddened to hear about this situation and cooperated fully with the investigation."
"Our prayers are with all involved.”
Oglesby got a job at a local public library reading stories to kids. She lived her life pretending to be a 24-year-old woman.
Court documents show Oglesby used the name Lauren Hays on federal student aid forms, multiple W2 forms, a vehicle title, cell phone accounts, bank account information and more.
Detective Schwien told KY3 News:
"She had completely adopted a younger lifestyle: clothing, makeup and personality."
"She had completely assumed becoming a younger person in her early twenties."
Oglesby also took advantage of the kindness of a local couple, Avery and Wendy Parker.
The Parkers reported:
"A woman in town had said that there was a girl who had had an abusive relationship and she was at the Christos House and wanted to know if we could help her out, get her on her feet, get her started, mentor her and get her a fresh new life."
"We said sure, absolutely."
For several years, the Averys treated Oglesby like she was their daughter.
Avery Parker said:
"She was a giddy, silly girl. She was 22 but she acted 17."
When Oglesby's story began to unravel, the Parkers contacted a relative living in the same town Oglesby had claimed to be from, not knowing the Mountain View Police Department was already investigating her.
Wendy Parker said:
"Within 24 hours, Laura surfaced and was arrested."
Avery Parker added:
"I try real hard to see the [then] 45-year-old Laura, so I can hate her."
"But all I can see is a 22-year-old Lauren, who I just wanted to help."
"If I could give her a message, I would just like to tell her that the people she hurt the most, we're nothing [in comparison], was her kids."
"She hurt her kids."
On Monday over three years after her arrest, Oglesby pleaded guilty to one count of furnishing false information to the Social Security Administration.
She faces up to five years in prison.
She will be required to pay $17, 521 in restitution to Southwest Baptist University as well as restitution to her daughter.