Couples married by woman accused of stealing identity

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Couple married by woman accused of stealing a dead woman's identity.

More couples are coming forward wondering whether their marriages are legitimate based on charges filed against the woman who performed their ceremonies.

Christina White performed Matt and Stephanie Crawford's ceremony and signed their Texas Marriage License in October 2014 on-board a yacht operated by Majestic Ventures. She faces federal identify theft charges.

"She was very nice. Very professional," Matt Crawford said.

A year and a half later, the minister who married Matt and Stephanie Crawford faces federal charges.

ABC13 was the only one there as 52-year-old Cynthia Lyerla walked out of federal court after a judge granted her bond Monday. She's accused of using the deceased Christina White's identity for more than 20 years to get driver's licenses, passports, and mariner's licenses. We've learned that she was ordained as a minister under the false identity.

"I came home. She's freaking out saying oh my God we might not be married," Matt said of the day he and Stephanie found out. "I'm telling her calm down, let's get all the facts straight first before we freak out."

Lyerla was known as Captain Christina on the dinner cruise yachts run by Majestic Ventures. The owner, John "Captain John" Litchfield told Eyewitness News last week that Lyerla started a new life in League City with the new name Christina White after receiving death threats in California following her husband's murder. He also told us that she didn't hurt anyone.

The Crawford's disagree and believe everybody at Majestic is responsible for this alleged deception.

"If everybody knew about it, how can you run a business like that?" Matt Crawford asked. "If she's hiding from what she says she's hiding from, why choose a job that involves public records like that. That affects other people."

Our legal analyst, Joel Androphy, says any couple married by Lyerla should be legit under law, especially since the state of Texas honors common law marriage. But he says they should consider getting re-married just to be safe.

Neither the Galveston County Clerk or the state could answer questions about what these couples should do.

"We stood before God and took our vows. So as far as I'm concerned, we're married," Matt Crawford added.

The Crawford's hope the state agrees.

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