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After series of tense blood transfusions and three months of tearful episodes, Terry and Todd Jr. came home to Monroe's place. The only clothes Terry fit into were blue-and-white striped Cabbage Patch doll pajamas. "Some people say twins is double trouble," Monroe likes to say. "But the Lord gave us a double blessin.' "
The boys' father — Todd Durham — says he had admired Little, who was two years older, from afar at Blanche Ely High School. "She was one of the popular, pretty girls," he says. "She didn't know I had a big crush." Todd was a quiet but cocksure kid who spent time tinkering with computers and "was into partying." The pair met at a car wash in Pompano Beach.
After the twins were born, the couple moved in with Monroe, Todd's mom, and "lived like a married couple" for a short period, Durham says, though they never wed.
Terry was far less healthy than his brother. "We didn't think he'd make it," Little says. "[Todd Jr.] was doing fine, but Terry had complications." He had to take prescription medication to swallow food, learn to breathe on his own, and see physical therapists three times a week.
The next year, in 1999, Little says she decided "to go back to school." So she moved out and gave Sharon Monroe custody of the boys.
By the time the twins were a year old, the pressures of being a young single father began to overwhelm Todd. And his rap sheet started to grow. "It was an inner-city neighborhood," he says. "I'm no saint."
Just before 8 p.m. on November 24, 1998, an anonymous female tipster told Hollywood police about a crack dealer who was holding $200 of rock in the parking lot at 20th Avenue and Johnson Street, according to court documents. When an undercover cop approached Todd, he gestured to a loaded silver .38-caliber Smith and Wesson under his front seat. "Don't fuck around," Todd said. The cop handed over $200 in crisp $20 bills for ten rocks. Todd was charged with one count of delivering cocaine and three counts of carrying a concealed weapon. Officers also found a $20 bag of marijuana on him and charged him for that.
Ten days later, while out on bond, he dealt crack to another undercover cop. He was arrested again and charged with delivering cocaine. He pleaded guilty in May 1999 and was sentenced to 32 months in state prison and 18 months of house arrest for both cases.
These days, Durham says he was "set up" after a big deal ended badly. "They ended up turning informants on me."
He says he regrets selling drugs but adds, "Honestly, when you're young, who wouldn't want to live the life of a dealer? It's extravagant."
When Durham began serving time, Monroe took the boys. But in early 2000, Grandma ran into a legal problem of her own. It wasn't her first time in trouble — Miami narcotics cops busted Monroe on June 10, 1992, for buying "six plastic bags of cocaine," according to a police report. The case was dropped in exchange for her participation in drug rehab.
In March 2000, she picked up the phone and — with soft, plump fingers — punched in the number of 78-year-old Dorothy Pinnell, who lived in a nursing home in Bloomington, Indiana. Monroe introduced herself and asked for the elderly woman's bank account number, according to court documents.
Bank investigators soon noticed fishy checks and telephoned Pinnell, who told them a female caller had lied to her. Monroe told Pinnell that "she had won the lotto" and "had to pay taxes on her winnings," according to court documents.
In October 2000, a bookkeeper involved in the phony lotto operation spilled the details to cops. Monroe was one of three women charged with conning $20,000 from at least six elderly victims. After a two-week trial, Monroe was convicted of organized fraud and grand theft. On September 21, 2001, she was sentenced to three years' probation.
Monroe won't talk much about the conviction. She says only that it was the fault of a company she worked for and that it was her first day on the job. "I didn't know nothing," she says. "I was doing what I was told."
Adds her lawyer, Dennis McHugh: "She paid restitution — that's the only reason she didn't go to prison."
Around that time, Monroe began to run an intimate church congregation in a blue townhouse in Sunrise. Terry, then a chubby toddler, would suck on his index finger, watch her preach in the living room, and imitate her voice inflections, she says.
By 2003, she and the twins moved from the $65,000 townhouse into a white $200,000 Oriole Estates house, where a glistening pool sometimes served as a baptismal font.
Soon, Monroe says, she went on disability for "a back problem," stopped working, and began to care for five foster children. From 2001 to 2006, she filed five claims seeking child support against relatives of unrelated children.
A big-screen TV flickers on a lazy Saturday afternoon in March at Sharon Monroe's dimly lit, one-story Margate home when the phone rings. "Praise the Lord," she answers. "You calling from Jamaica for Minister Terry?" she asks, her drowsy brown eyes shifting from the television to the boy. There's a pause. "Yeah, you want him to pray for you?"