A cruise ship captain has been arrested for identity theft perpetuated twenty years ago. Known around League City, Texas as Christina White, 52, the captain for Majestic Ventures was arrested by the FBI on March 10, 2016.
Cruise Bruise Investigates looked into the case and found that according to Texas State Comptroller records Majestic Ventures is a Galveston, Texas cruise company owned by John Richfield. Majestic Ventures does dinner cruises and weddings on yachts. Christina White's real name is Cynthia Lynn Richfield and she is married to the owner of Majestic Ventures cruise line, something the FBI didn't seem to be aware of when they charged her and made a public press release on the case calling her Cynthia Lynn Lyerla. There is no mention of Cynthia Lynn Richfield in their complaint. The real Christina White died in 1965.
The FBI says Lyerla used the dead woman's name, date and place of birth, and her Social Security number to get drivers' licenses, passports, mariner licenses and TSA documentation that allowed her to enter secure port areas. The investigation began after Cynthia Richfield applied for a passport as Christina White and the Department of State began to check her fingerprints.
U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas said, "This indictment alleges her true identity was confirmed after her fingerprints were taken in connection with a mariner license application." Lyerla was indicted on four counts of stolen identity fraud. According to the indictment, “Cynthia Lynn Knox was born in 1964, later married Harold Lyerla and took his name. The marriage ended when Harold Lyerla was murdered in 1988 in Lompoc, California. Although another individual was convicted for that crime, Lyerla’s fingerprints were taken by the local police in the course of the investigation.”
The Case Time Line
August 15, 1987
Cynthia Lynn Knox marries Harold D Lyerla in Clark County, Nevada
November 11, 1988
Cynthia Lynn Lyerla's husband Harold “Skeeter” Lyerla, 29, was stabbed to death on November 11, 1988 in Lompoc, California at their home. Victor Castillo Perea, 39, an employee for John Litchfield was arrested at a Newbury Park, California motel by narcotics investigators and members of a Ventura County SWAT team. Victor Perea was later convicted for the murder. Harold Lyerla's family contends the murder was a conspiracy with one or more others involved in the murder. Two life insurance policies for Harold Lyerla were issued by Commercial Life Insurance Company become the center of a Harold Lyerla's family dispute.
May 6, 1989
Five months after Harold's murder, Cynthia Lynn Lyerla marries John Everett Litchfield in Clark County, Nevada
July 27, 1989
Two months after Cynthia Lynn Lyerla's marriage to John Everett Litchfield, Cynthia's daughter Kajsa Lynn Lyerla, 15-months-old, drowned in a fish pond on the property of her maternal grandfather and his wife Roger and Clare Knox. Kajsa Lyerla was under her "mother's sole custody and supervision when she died". Her paternal grandparents contend the child was murdered and there was a life insurance policy for the child. This, according to court records, is the third incident involving near death or death of the toddler, including another near drowning bath tub incident and a pill overdose. A Life insurance policy for Kajsa Lyerla was issued by Commercial Life Insurance Company.
August 31, 1989
Victor Castillo Perea is imprisoned at Valley State Prison in California for Harold “Skeeter” Lyerla's murder.
November 16, 1989
With her son and grand-daughter both dead in the prior year with connections to Cynthia Lynn Lyerla, a lawsuit by jury is filed by former mother-in-law Marilyn Marks against John Litchfield, Cynthia Lynn Lyerla and Victor Castillo Perea for the death of Cynthia Lynn Lyerla's husband Harold Lyerla. Marks calls Litchfield and Lyerla "suspects" in her son's murder case. Toddler grand-daughter Kajsa Lyerla who drown in a fish ponder several months earlier is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, potentially including her life insurance policy in the jury award. The lawsuit doesn't name Cynthia Litchfield.
March 15, 1990
Leaving no stone unturned, a lawsuit is filed by Marilyn Marks against Cynthia Lynn Lyerla, Lyerla's parents and Commercial Life Insurance Co. for the wrongful death of Kajsa Lyerla. The lawsuit doesn't name Cynthia Litchfield.
June 11, 1990
News reports say, Allstate Insurance Co. claimed that it is was obliged to defend or indemnify Cynthia Lynn Lyerla who was accused of conspiring to kill her husband. The U.S. District Court lawsuit, which was filed in Los Angeles, says Cynthia Lyerla of Santa Barbara was sued by her mother-in-law for conspiring to murder Harold Lyerla.
January 9, 1992
Wrongful death case for Kajsa Lyerla is appealed and then denied.
May 5, 1992
The November 16, 1989 case by Marilyn Marks against John Litchfield and Cynthia Lynn Lyerla is dismissed after 29 months of court.
May 21, 1992
John Litchfield requests attorney fees for the dismissed lawsuit brought by Marilyn Marks and it's denied. The couple next turn up in Harris County, Texas launching a new cruise business which ultimately was registered to John Litchfield.
1994 Lady Christina Charters
Majestic Ventures references as beginning in 1994 (during later revisions of the website) "When we began our business in 1994 we only did Kemah yacht charters & Kemah dinner cruises aboard our 70' luxury sailing yacht."
Majestic Ventures websites is launched. The website says, "Sensation, a newly launched 2 Million Dollar 95' Luxury Dinner & Party Yacht will begin her service in Clear Lake & Galveston Bay" The website also promotes "Lady Christina a World Class 70' Luxury Sailing Yacht. The Largest and Most Luxurious Privately Owned Sailing Charter Yacht in All of Texas Invites you to Join her for a private day or sunset cruise on Galveston Bay." Majestic Ventures websites also says, "When we began our business in 1994 we only did Kemah yacht charters & Kemah dinner cruises aboard our 70' luxury sailing yacht."
January 1, 2001
Majestic Ventures websites says, "In 2001 Majestic Ventures purchased 150 passenger yacht the "Royal Princess".
August 27, 2001
Majestic Ventures Inc is finally registered with the Texas State Comptroller by John Litchfield
The Lawsuit Case Details
This identity theft case has roots back to another court case in 1991, Marilyn Marks v. Cynthia Lynn Lyerla, John Litchfield, Victor Castillo Perea filed on November 16, 1989.
The court documents state,” Appellant Marilyn Marks argues that she is entitled to bring this wrongful death action for the alleged murder of her granddaughter by the child's mother. We disagree in this case of first impression.
Appellant is only a potential heir of the decedent under the California intestate succession scheme. The alleged murderer is the decedent's sole heir and, as such, is the only person statutorily authorized to bring an action for the decedent's wrongful death.
On July 27, 1989, 15-month-old Kajsa Lyerla (the decedent) drowned in a fish pond on the property of her maternal grandfather and his wife, respondents Roger and Clare Knox (respondents Knox). Respondent Cynthia Lyerla (respondent Lyerla) is the decedent's mother. The decedent was under her mother's sole custody and supervision when she died.
Marilyn Marks (appellant) is the paternal grandmother of the decedent. Her son Harold Lyerla was the decedent's father and married to respondent Lyerla. Harold Lyerla was murdered in 1988 by Victor Perea, a former employee of John Litchfield. Respondent Cynthia Lyerla is currently married to John Litchfield.
Appellant filed her complaint for wrongful death against respondents in March 1990.
In her first amended complaint, appellant generally alleged that respondent Lyerla was ineligible to maintain an action for wrongful death since she had intentionally killed the decedent. Appellant also alleged that there were two prior life threatening incidents involving respondent Lyerla and the decedent--one in 1988 when the decedent allegedly opened a "child proof" bottle and swallowed an overdose of Advil, and the other in 1989 when the decedent was left alone in a bathtub of water while respondent Lyerla allegedly locked herself out of the house.
In the first cause of action in her amended complaint, appellant alleged that she is the surviving heir within the meaning of the wrongful death statute since respondent Lyerla intentionally caused the decedent's death. Appellant's second cause of action for declaratory relief requested a determination of appellant's and respondent Lyerla's rights with respect to the proceeds of two life insurance policies issued on Harold Lyerla's life and an additional policy taken out on the decedent's life. Appellant alleged that respondent Lyerla was not entitled to any of the life insurance proceeds since she had intentionally killed both her husband and daughter."
The case was dismissed, appealed and the dismissal was upheld. But, it tells the origins of this identity theft case and that Captain John Litchfield knew beyond a doubt who Christina White really was and why she lied about her real name. Though married, John Litchfield never mentions Cynthia Litchfield, only Christina White, facilitating Cynthia Litchfield's twenty year fraud.
Captain John Litchfield reportedly said Cynthia Lynn Lyerla used a fake identity to escape stalkers. “She felt threatened by her ex-in-laws”, Litchfield said. “Instead of going to police, she broke the law, then moved with John to League City”, he said.
Majestic Ventures online list of clients includes the Drug Enforcement Agency, Houston Port Authority, Army Corp of Engineers, Pfizer, Time Warner, Conoco Phillips, Houston Rockets, Schlumberger and NASA. Yet, nowhere on his company website is there a hint that one of his captains is actually his wife, who is living under the assumed name of a dead woman.
Majestic Ventures website further states, "When we began our business in 1994 we only did Kemah yacht charters & Kemah dinner cruises aboard our 70' luxury sailing yacht. We also offered Clear Lake boat rentals and Sail boat rentals. In 1996 we purchased the "Magic" a 49 passenger yacht which we offered wedding venues for our Kemah wedding yacht and receptions, Seabrook yacht weddings, We cruised the Kemah Boardwalk, galveston and Clear Lake., Kemah party boats and for company holiday parties.
In 1999 we purchased our first 150 passenger yacht 95' yacht and we shortly found out that we were not only a great option to the high priced banquet rooms and banquet facilities in Houston but could also offer affordable houston yacht receptions, houston wedding receptions, houston wedding hall, yacht weddings in houston and custom Kemah weddings or custom Houston weddings.
In 2001 do (sic) to the demand for our rental yacht for their Houston company party Majestic Ventures purchased another 150 passenger yacht the "Royal Princess" ideal for corporate events. After further demand, in 2003 we purchased the "enchantment" our 80' dinner cruise yacht which is used for Kemah wedding yacht, Kemah dinner cruise yacht. Then in mid 2005 Majestic Ventures purchased the new 100' Royal Princess II, her new design revolutionized Texas yacht weddings by including in her design a bridal changing room and private bridal rest room."
Lyerla's former sister-in-law Linda Pickhart, said that she knew Lyerla "skipped town with a man named John" Litchfield and that she went by the new name Christina White.
Lyerla faces up to 10 years in federal prison if she's convicted. The FBI investigation continues.
Cruise Bruise Investigates also noted during this case investigation, a United States Coast Guard (USCG) investigation on May 1, 2012. The USCG received an "anonymous tip" that Majestic Ventures cruise ship Sapphire Princess had been put into dry dock for repairs to the hull. When three USCG personnel arrived at the dry dock location of the passenger cruise ship they observed repairs had been made with a patch on the port side bow of the ship. Sapphire Princess had been placed in dry dock on April 24 without USCG notification or authorization for hull repairs valued at $26,500.