Bizarre backstory to South Korean dog cloning
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2008:
SEOUL, LONDON–Animal advocates scrambled on August 5, 2008
to more fully identify the background of a woman named Bernann
McKinney, who paid $50,000 to RNL Bio of Seoul, South Korea to
clone her deceased pit bull terrier.
At a press conference in Seoul, held to announce the
cloning, the woman cuddled five pit bull puppies and claimed that
the deceased pit bull had once saved her life when she was attacked
by a much larger dog–but no record of the incident could be found.
The cloning team was led by Lee Byeong-chun, a former
assistant to Hwang Woo-suk, whose 2004 claim to have cloned human
embryos and extracted stem cells from them was exposed a year later
as false. However, Hwang Woo-suk and Lee Byeong-chun had verifiably
cloned a dog, and reportedly cloned more than 20 dogs before
Among the questions under investigation were whether
dogfighters, the dog meat industry, or breeders of dogs for
laboratory use might actually have put up the money for the pit bull
cloning, billed as the first commercial dog cloning.
But Joyce Bernann McKinney, 58, was instead recognized and
identified by British tabloid reporters, with further details of her
life soon exposed by other media.
Born in Avery County, North Carolina, McKinney was named
Miss World-Wyoming in 1972, and participated in the 1973 Miss
World-USA pageant. McKinney became infatuated with a Mormon
missionary whom she pursued to England in 1977. After a male
accomplice allegedly brought the missionary to her at the point of a
toy gun, she allegedly chained him to the bed with mink-lined
handcuffs and forced him to have sex with her for two days between
Bible readings meant to convince him to marry her. He eventually
escaped. McKinney and the accomplice in 1978 jumped bail and fled.
McKinney next posed first as a nun and then topless for
magazines in Atlanta. Arrested again, she jumped bail again, but
reappeared in the tabloids in 1984, for allegedly stalking the same
missionary in Salt Lake City.
In 1993, the Johnson City, Tennessee Press Chronicle
recalled, McKinney disguised herself with a wig and sought work at
the Washington County Animal Shelter to try to gain access to several
pit bulls who were to be euthanized for attacking a couple. She was
charged with attempting to break into the shelter, but the case was
dropped in 1997.
In 2004, in Carter County, Tennessee, McKinney was charged
with conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, contributing to the
delinquency of a minor, and speeding, after trying to recruit a
15-year-old boy to rob a house in an attempt to raise the price of a
prosthetic limb for a three-legged horse. Again she failed to appear
“More recently, she surfaced on the criminal dockets in her
native Avery County, where a warrant is active alleging she
threatened another woman; and in Washington County, Tennessee,
alleging burglary,” wrote Daniel Gilbert of the Bristol Herald