An Unfinished Internet Story

Do you ever Google your own name, just out of curiosity? I do, sometimes. But I bet Joann Elizabeth Wingate doesn’t.

I don’t even know how I stumbled upon this story, because it is from the summer of 2014. When I found it, I was intrigued. The story itself is sick and twisted, but the fact that no one bothered to follow up on it is even more revealing, in my opinion.

Here are the very basics, which got picked up by one lowbrow news outlet after another, for about a week: Ms. Wingate was once a chiropractor, but her license expired for reasons not explained. So she decided to steal the medical license of a local psychiatrist who shared her last name, and operate a physical exam business from inside her own home. She targeted truck drivers, who need this exam to renew their certifications. She put up fliers at a truck stop.

She would meet these guys at the truck stop, drive them back to her shabby little house in her shabby little car, and perform a full medical exam, including urinalysis, for $65. At least 16 guys fell victim to this woman, who held no medical license whatsoever. (That’s what you get for getting your doctor off a truck stop flyer, I suppose.)

But here’s what I don’t get, and probably never will: That’s a lot of work for 65 bucks. It seems to me that if you’re going to do a con, you’d go for some bigger fish, unless there was some unexplainable kink factor for you with regard to making men pee into a little cup.

Whatever her motivations were, riches do not seem to have been her primary one. Instead, she wound up being held in prison on 10k bail. (And how do you make that phone call to your nearest kin?)

I can understand why so many news outlets jumped on this story. It’s insane. It’s funny. It probably went viral. And there was marijuana involved.

But here’s the thing: According to my lazy internet search, not a single one of those journalists bothered to follow up on the story. Did she do time? (She should have, because apparently she had already gotten caught pulling this creepy con elsewhere, and had to move to another county to keep it going.)

There’s nothing more frustrating to me than a story without an ending. The only thing I am fairly positive about is that Joann Elizabeth Wingate doesn’t Google her own name, if she even bothers to use it anymore. Because the only thing that pops up is this odd little unfinished story.

I would hate for that to be my legacy. And I feel awfully sorry for any woman out there who shares her name. (Note to expectant mothers: Google prior to naming your child!)

Where is she now? More importantly, what is she doing, and to whom? The possibilities are endless.

Joann Elizabeth Wingate
Joann Elizabeth Wingate

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