- A Virginia woman was arrested Monday, months after she tricked a California couple into believing she was pregnant, and would let them adopt her baby.
- Elizabeth Jones has admitted she lied to the couple and is going to therapy to find out why she invented the pregnancy.
- Prosecutors charged Jones with nine counts of felony larceny over the gifts she received from the adoptive couple, which they allege were given under “false pretenses.”
Months after devastating a California couple who wrongly believed she was pregnant and would give them her baby, a Virginia woman has been arrested on felony charges, court documents show.
Elizabeth Jones of Nickelsville, Virginia, has admitted to fooling the couple, telling local media outlets that she has no idea why she invented the pregnancy – but was certain her actions weren’t criminal.
Prosecutors disagreed, and charged her on Monday with nine counts of felony larceny, accusing her of receiving gifts under “false pretenses” while Laura and Matt Trayte believed she was carrying their adoptive child, according to the list of charges filed in the Scott Circuit Court in Virginia.
Criminally charging Jones was no small feat. Faking a pregnancy isn’t a crime, and the Traytes did not formally pay Jones to adopt her baby. But the Traytes had paid for Jones to eat at restaurants, bought gifts for her, and even purchased a professional photoshoot to celebrate news of the baby, according to The Washington Post.
Prosecutors had also previously charged Jones for violating probation, court documents show. Since Jones was also convicted of multiple instances of credit-card fraud, prosecutors could enhance her larceny charges to felonies, The Post reported.
Jones told the local NBC affiliate WCYB in a January interview that she was going to therapy to determine why she had tricked the Traytes.
“Well that’s the million dollar question … I mean, I go to therapy, but we’re still trying to figure that out,” Jones told WCYB. “I mean, I don’t know if I just needed someone to talk to, or … I don’t know.”
Jones told the outlet she was sorry for the Traytes, but said she wasn’t a “horrible person” and that the Traytes should have realized they were being fooled.
“I think there were red flags,” Jones told WCYB. “I mean if I had red flags I would check them out before I hopped on a plane and met somebody.”
Jones reportedly pretended to go into labor
The elaborate ruse started when the Traytes, who were struggling to conceive a sibling for their son Hudson, searched for potential birth mothers on Facebook.
As INSIDER’s Kelly McLaughlin previously reported, Jones reached out to the couple in September 2018 and said she had been pregnant for roughly six months and wanted to give up her baby because she and her husband couldn’t afford a third child.
Jones didn’t ask the Traytes for money, and the three mutually agreed to have an “open adoption” allowing Jones to remain in the child’s life, the Orange County Register reported. Jones and Laura Trayte exchanged daily messages about the pregnancy, and they even met up once in Virginia.
But on November 29, Jones texted the Traytes saying she was in pain and going into labor, according to the Register. When the Traytes arrived in the hospital, there was no baby – and hospital staff told them the only Elizabeth Jones they had admitted was a woman being treated for back pain, not childbirth.
The Traytes said in a December 2018 Facebook post that the viewed Jones’ actions as a “psychological attack” and would need therapy for the “emotional pain and trauma” Jones caused.
They added that they still intend to adopt a child one day.
“We will make it our mission to seek reform in the adoption community AND to find the child who is meant to be a part of our family,” the Traytes wrote. “So, while we are broken, we are also survivors, and our story will continue.”
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