WRAL Investigates

Soldier's widow, others speak out after photos 'hijacked' online

Posted April 23, 2012
Updated April 24, 2012

— After losing her husband in Iraq in 2003, only 22 days before he was scheduled to come home, Fayetteville widow Theresa Morehead turned to Facebook to help keep his memory alive. She later learned that an impostor was using her husband’s photo to gain a woman's affection and sympathy.

Morehead was one of several people who contacted WRAL News about loved ones' photos being used inappropriately online after seeing WRAL's Feb. 2 story about Lydia Lange, who says someone copied her photos and posted them online under the name “Jenny.”

In Morehead's case, she says a man using the name James Duane tried to pass off her husband's picture as his own on Facebook and Myspace. A career Special Forces soldier, Master Sgt. Kevin Morehead shook hands with the president, was honored for his service with a Silver Star and Purple Heart and has a camp in Afghanistan that bears his name.

“I’m pretty sure that he went to Kevin’s memorial site on Facebook and hijacked the picture,” Theresa Morehead said. “And then, to claim you’re a Marine. Really? Where is your … you have no class. Just disgusting.”

Theresa Morehead said she learned that her husband’s photo was being used inappropriately when a woman contacted her and said she had an online relationship with a man who was using the photo.

The woman, who asked WRAL News not to identify her for safety reasons, said she started an online relationship with the man who called himself James Duane. When she asked for pictures, he kept sending her the same one – Kevin Morehead’s photo – she said.

Theresa Morehead Soldier's widow speaks out after husband's photos 'hijacked' online

“Then, I happened to look at the file name and saw it was called ‘MoreheadKevin.jpg,’” she said.

The woman says she searched the name on the Internet, found the fallen war hero’s memorial page and contacted his widow right away. The woman says she feels betrayed and says the man has since threatened her.

“(I used to be) worried about him, because he said he would be going out on missions, and he wasn’t sure if he’d be coming back,” the woman said. “And so, I’d be praying for him, like an idiot, and worrying about him, and, you know, he’s probably just sitting in his basement somewhere.”

Theresa Morehead says she contacted Myspace, which took her husband's picture down right away after she proved someone was misusing it. She did not have the same luck with Facebook, which says it works with law enforcement and it has an extensive section on safety on its site.

“I was appalled that they would actually let somebody do that,” she said. “I mean, why don’t you zap their site right away?”

Morehead says she finally got the man to take down the picture after repeatedly writing to him.

Rhonda Eiesland, of Raleigh, shares that frustration. She spent eight months trying to get pictures of her two teenage daughters off a Facebook page promoting prostitution.

“They were basically calling her white trash (and saying) that she would do a lot of this sexual stuff,” Eiesland said.

A caption under Carissa Eiesland’s photo said the 17-year-old “gets down and DIRTY (if you know what I mean).” A caption under 15-year-old Shaniah Eiesland’s photo said, “Hit me up if you want to talk.”

“I was upset, because I don’t want people to think horrible things about me and look at me in the wrong way,” Shaniah said.

Rhonda Eiesland says she went to Raleigh police last June to file a report on her daughters’ behalf.

“I was very upset, very upset,” she said. “(The police) basically told me that there was nothing that they could do.”

The angry mother didn't stop there. She started doing research on her own and found a statute on cyber-bullying. She says she believes girls at her daughters' school took their attacks to Facebook, prompting Raleigh police to open an investigation.

“Even though it’s public and on the Web for anyone to see, it still doesn’t give anyone the right to take their pictures and use them,” Rhonda Eiesland said.

Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue said police have been gathering information in the case, but they "have not developed sufficient probable cause to obtain an arrest warrant."

Beverly Huggins contacted WRAL News about "a problem that won't go away" involving pictures of her 18-year-old daughter, Victoria Huggins, who was an American Idol contestant in 2011.

"We have contacted Facebook about (7) impersonator accounts, some which post pornographic pics profiling Victoria," Beverly Huggins wrote in an email to WRAL News on March 20. "We have contacted Facebook repeatedly to close accounts providing proof of identity."

Impostors pulled pictures of Victoria off her ministry website, VictoriaHuggins.net, which is the only website she has, according to her mother.

"Please help us. This has been emotionally upsetting to Victoria as well as is a fraudulent matter unfair to the public who think they're posting to a legitimate account," Beverly Huggins wrote.

Lisa Naser, a teaching assistant at Sterling Montessori Academy and Charter School in Morrisville, also contacted WRAL News and said she was confused for one of her co-workers, who is accused in a murder-for-hire plot in the Triangle terrorism case. Someone posted Naser's picture under Nevine Aly Elshiekh's name on a pro-Elshiekh blog. 

"This organization went to my work website, found a picture that fit a description similar to Nevine and copied my picture onto their website," Naser wrote. "I was floored and angry to say the least. I have co-workers joking and parents asking questions."

Naser says she posted a comment on the blog, telling the owner to take down her picture. Several hours later, her comment was gone, she said, but the picture remained up for another week.

"I did talk with an agent in the Charlotte FBI office that looked into this, and he told me that since there was no criminal law broken he could not do anything, but he did suggest I that I had a civil case in regard to slander," Naser wrote. 

If an image is being misused online, the North Carolina Department of Justice encourages people to report it to the site in question.

"If they fear for their safety or feel threatened, they should contact local law enforcement," said DOJ spokeswoman Noelle Talley. "Images that constitute child pornography should, of course, be reported to law enforcement or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Cyber tipline."


This story is closed for comments.

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  • barbstillkickin Apr 25, 2012

    I am sorry busyb97 if I made anyone think I did not think it would be wrong. I would want who ever puts my picture on any web site to pay for the crime. I just meant to say if you put anything on your web page be careful because their is always some one out there wanting to steal your profile. I wish they could find a way to track them down and pay for what they do. i just want people to know that any personal stuff they put on line can be used against them. Oh I can assure anyone my profile would never be use for porn unless someone likes fat old ladies who look there age. LOL sorry if I gave anyone the idea I was OK with someone stealing any info on line.

  • piene2 Apr 25, 2012

    "if they want to post my pics go for it. I have nothing to hide " You say that now, but what if YOUR picture is being used on a porn site, or something else criminal or disgusting. One day, your boss, or a potential employer sees that photo. Or your grandma or your kids......

    If one posts a picture suitable for use on a pornography site than they should have no complaint when it is published.

  • piene2 Apr 25, 2012

    "For what? performing a tasteless act is not against the law, merely tasteless.

    piene2 depends really, Fraud, I mean why is it you can't impersonate a Police Officer, but can grab a picture off of some random site and pose as this person, Thank God i'm ugly as sin!

    There is a large difference between one impersonating a cop and some clueless person posting pictures on some inane public social networking cite.

  • Alexia.1 Apr 24, 2012

    "Well she obviously needs consoling and I would offer up my services to help her get over this difficult time." --Go GT Go

    "Obviously needs consoling"? You sell "consoling" services? Or do you sell "counseling services"? If the former, I don't hardly think she needs "services". If the latter, I sure hope you do not tell me anybody who is (reasonably) upset about something needs to see a shrink.

  • dennis23 Apr 24, 2012

    What if this low life is posting photos of teenage boys attempting to lure young teenage girls out for a private meeting or date. They need to be put in a military prison for using this soldiers photo and putting his widow through all this and I don't care if anyone says its ok its not. Maybe some special force members will track them down.

  • Uhavenoclu Apr 24, 2012

    The creditors all laugh at me so hey if the crooks got more money and helps my credit then be me.

  • busyb97 Apr 24, 2012

    "if they want to post my pics go for it. I have nothing to hide " You say that now, but what if YOUR picture is being used on a porn site, or something else criminal or disgusting. One day, your boss, or a potential employer sees that photo. Or your grandma or your kids......

    It amounts to identity theft. Yes- the crooks and cruds are online, understood. And it is a tough crime to stop, but why should there be no repercussions for ID theft in this manner any moreso than any other method (especially if it involves a minor). Crime happens every day in the "real world". Does that mean we shouldn't expect the bad guys to be punished because we know they exist so we should just "deal with it"?

    This is a big reason I avoid "social media"....the identity and cyber-crooks. But people who do that sort of thing are disgusting. Get your OWN LIFE people. Stop stealing others'.

  • mojo nailing rb Apr 24, 2012

    Well she obviously needs consoling and I would offer up my services to help her get over this difficult time.

  • swannaya Apr 24, 2012

    question for Tarheelgrad1998

    you say that analogy but what if the picture posted is not one that you have posted online. Should we ban taking pictures all together?

  • barbstillkickin Apr 24, 2012

    This should not be a surprise to anyone. Anything you post will be seen by some one. I never post personal things other then Pictures and if they want to post my pics go for it. I have nothing to hide but I will never give out my SS card or any credit info so if you do not put it there then it is safe.