A Genealogue Exclusive [What's That?]Daniel Haines was arrested Wednesday at his home in Hallowell, Maine, and charged with stealing the identity of his ancestor, Benjamin F. Haines. The elder Haines was a veteran of the Civil War, and died in 1881 from acute chappedness of the lips.
District Attorney Janet Coulombe described the case as "the worst I've ever seen," and called for new restrictions on access to vital records in the state.
"This man was able to walk into the State Archives, look at some microfilm, and find out Benjamin Haines' date of birth, his marriage date—even his mother's maiden name! We have to do a better job of protecting the identities of our citizens."
According to Coulombe, Daniel Haines made no attempt to hide his crime, and even appeared at his son's elementary school dressed in the uniform of his victim. Haines asked to be called "Benjamin" during the school visit, never once revealing to the children his true identity as "Caleb's dad."
"We also have evidence of paramilitary activity," says Coulombe. "Haines and several dozen co-conspirators routinely disguised themselves and carried out weapons-training exercises at what they called 'encampments.' God only knows what they were planning."
Police have rounded up most of the identity-theft ring, but one member is still at large. The DA is asking for the public's help in apprehending the leader—a man they call "the Colonel."
"Please do not approach him, as he is known to carry a sidearm and sword," she warns. "Anyone spotting 'Joshua Chamberlain' should call the Maine State Police immediately. Don't be a hero."