PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon woman who spent more than a decade in hiding after a fatal crash built a life with her two children while living illegally in Canada.
Jean Keating was living in the rural Manitoba town of Minnedosa, population 2,500, about 300 miles north of Grand Forks, N.D., The Oregonian reported (http://bit.ly/12DMNff ).
After the fatal 1997 crash, in which she faced manslaughter and drunken-driving charges, Keating stopped contacting her attorney. Police believe she crossed the Canadian border with her children, ages 1 and 3, in 1998.
For more than a decade, she appeared to have built a new life in a new country, but trouble followed her. She was arrested several times in Canada, including on a charge for drunken driving.
Despite encounters with law enforcement, she managed to keep her past a secret. In early 2013, that secret began to unravel, apparently by Keating’s own doing. A Royal Canadian Mounted Police constable heard rumors about a woman named “Jean McPherson” in town who bragged about getting away with manslaughter in the U.S.
He emailed a border-enforcement task force, which found that there was no “Jean McPherson” living as a legal immigrant in Canada. But when they compared the fingerprints for “Jean McPherson” with those on record for Keating in Oregon, authorities found a match.
Officials don’t know how she entered Canada, said Lisa White, a spokeswoman for Canada Border Services Agency, but in the late 1990s, it was not usually necessary for U.S. citizens to show a passport when crossing into Canada.
Immigration authorities arrested Keating in Canada on April 4 and issued a deportation order two weeks later. She was detained in Winnipeg because of flight risk until June 12, when she was deported to North Dakota. Keating has been barred from ever entering Canada again, White said.
Members of Keating’s family still in Oregon could not be located by The Associated Press on Saturday. Keating’s oldest child would be older than 18, but it’s unclear who was assigned custody of the younger child.
Keating was returned to Oregon this week, where she is accused of first-degree manslaughter in connection with the 1997 death of 65-year-old Jewel Anderson.
Police say Keating, then 38, sideswiped Anderson’s car on Interstate 5 near Albany, sending it careening through the center lane and into another car. Anderson died at the scene.
Keating’s arrest brought to an end years of searching by Linda Anderson, the 51-year-old daughter-in-law of Jewel Anderson.
Periodically over the past 15 years, Anderson had logged on to resume a methodical online hunt for the woman accused of killing the Anderson family’s matriarch as she drove to church.
Linda Anderson had turned to “be your own detective” websites in hopes of finding Keating.
“I’d type her name in, type her children’s names in to search. There would be other Jean Terese Keatings, but they wouldn’t line up,” Anderson told The Oregonian.
But on Father’s Day weekend, Oregon State Police investigators called to say Keating had been arrested in Canada. She was astonished.
“It was just too much,” Anderson recalled.
Anderson attended a court appearance and said she asked prosecutors and the judge to hold Keating accountable for the life she took and her years on the run.
She said Keating “looked like she had been through the ringer” and that she had a “smirky grin” on her face.
Anderson said she got to read a statement on behalf of the Anderson’s family.
“I’d say we as the family feel the justice system has failed us already,” she said. This time, she said, she doesn’t want to hear that Keating is out on bail at any point.
“I’m asking that Jean remain in jail until her sentencing.”
Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com