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Cloned puppies may have exposed a 31-year mystery

SALT LAKE CITY - A woman who made news around the world when she had five pups cloned from her beloved pit bull, Booger, looked very familiar to some who saw her picture: She may be the same woman who 31 years earlier was accused of abducting a Mormon missionary in England, handcuffing him to a bed and making him her sex slave.

A paper trail of court documents and jail booking information uncovered by The Associated Press suggests 57-year-old dog-lover Bernann McKinney is Joyce McKinney, who in 1977 faced charges of unlawful imprisonment in the missionary case. She jumped bail and was never brought to justice.

British tabloids first recognized the blonde woman's smiling face when she appeared in news photographs this past week with the five pit bull pups she paid South Korean scientists $53,000 to clone from her pet dog Booger, who died two years ago.

There is indeed a striking resemblance between Bernann McKinney and Joyce McKinney. Arrest records and court documents for the two names over the years show other similarities: the same birth date and Social Security numbers, the same hometown of Newland, N.C., and Joyce McKinney's middle name is Bernann.

'It fits,' said Utah filmmaker Trent Harris, who made a documentary about Joyce McKinney's case. He said photographs of McKinney and the dogs left him with no question about her identity.

'I said, 'Oh my God, that's Joyce,' he said.

Bernann McKinney has flatly denied any connections to Joyce McKinney and said she planned to take legal action against those who suggested otherwise.

'I'm filing a $10 million libel action, and I don't think you want AP to be part of that,' McKinney said before boarding a plane to return to the U.S.

While in South Korea, she told reporters she was a screenwriter and handed out business cards with a Hollywood, Calif., address. The AP found that address did not exist.