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Police seek woman in bigamy case

LAWRENCEVILLE - Police are seeking a woman believed to have married multiple men in Gwinnett County.

And this is the third bigamy case to surface in the last few weeks.

Officials say Shawnta McBride is facing at least five counts of bigamy, as she is believed to be married to six different men, said Cpl. Darren Moloney, spokesman for the Gwinnett County Police Department.

"All I can confirm is we do have another bigamy case - a female," Moloney said.

This case is in addition to two separate bigamy cases in Gwinnett in September.

Alvin Lorenzo Murdock, 37, of Norcross is believed to be married to six women, and William James Fairley, 34, of College Park is believed to be married to eight women. Both face multiple counts of bigamy.

The Fairley case was discovered when officials at the Gwinnett County Probate Court began combing through their files looking for anyone who recently applied for multiple marriage certificates.

But the search was prompted by the Murdock case, the first of the three.

Gwinnett police investigators say both men married their African wives to help them gain U.S. citizenship., but police have not confirmed if McBride's marriages carried the same motivation.

Gwinnett County Probate Judge Walter J. Clarke said probate court employees are now required to search their files for prior marriage licenses on both applicants.

If past licenses are found, the applicant or applicants must provide a divorce decree.

"We have started to do that to ensure that we're not issuing multiple licenses within a short period of time," Clarke said. "Whenever anyone comes in and applies for a license, we'll check both parties to see if we've issued them a license."

But these measures don't completely ensure that the marriage will be legal, the judge said.

For example: "If they obtain a license in DeKalb on Monday and they came (to Gwinnett) on Tuesday, I would have no idea the license was issued in DeKalb," Clarke said.

Clarke also said that bigamy cases sometimes surface when a person has died and multiple surviving spouses come forward.

Another problem stems from common law marriages, which were done away with in Georgia a few years ago, Clarke said.

This occurs when common law husbands and wives separate, never legally get divorced and go out and marry someone else.