Spoiler alert: Do not read this story directly before going on a date or falling asleep. If you’ve ever worried about the safety of online dating, this tale of murder will fan th… Read More
Have you ever had an online romance? If you did, consider yourself lucky that yours didn’t end in murder, unlike the case of “tallhotblond”. While online love stories and hookups each start in their own unique way, for Thomas Montgomery, a 46-year old former Marine who worked in a factory as a machinist, life was pretty traditional.
He had a wife, 2 loving daughters, and even taught Sunday school at his community’s local church. Little did he know that a ‘hello’ from an attractive 18-year old would destroy his life, expose two catfish, and lead him to become a murderer all under the guise of love.
It started innocently enough. Thomas Montgomery was in a children’s gaming chatroom when he first received a greeting from “tallhotblond”. He felt flattered that an attractive 18-year old was interested in connecting with him. Even though he was married, his dull job and sexless relationship made forbidden prospects sound enticing.
It wasn’t a coincidence that he worked with children at his church and used minor’s gaming chat. He was turned on by the same things adult videos sell as fantasy, a sexy 18-old ear girl who needs someone to show her the ropes sexually. “Tallhotblond” whose “real” name was Jessi, told Thomas she was a virgin and this added to Thomas’ temptation, even if it was all through the web.
All that their relationship required was for Thomas to lie that he was the same age as tallhotblond. He figured it wouldn’t hurt if he told her he was also 18, buff, and helping the country as a soldier. His screen name was ‘marinesniper,’ and with his fake new persona, he and tallhotblond began an epic online romance.
Over the following year, they talked about love and even marriage while engaging in digital sex. Jessi sent Thomas scintillating packages – such as her worn g-string panties and sultry photographs or video of herself. Although it started as an unlikely romance, it soon turned into an online addiction.
Thomas’ wife was aware that something was amiss, as Thomas spent so much time online. He wouldn’t even get off the computer when she needed to talk. As time went on, Thomas began to feel as if his online relationship with “tallhotblond” was more real than his “real” life.
This elusive facade came to a screaming halt when Thomas’ family found out. It was one of his daughters who first found her father’s disturbing chat connection and was sufficiently creeped out enough to tell her mother. Aware of her husband’s predilection for lying, Thomas’ wife, Cindy, contacted “tallhotblond” with an image of her family so that the teen would be aware.
She tried to be kind and wrote:
Let me introduce you to these people, the man in the center is Tom, my husband since 1989. He is 46 years old. Do not trust words on a computer, let this go, you will only be hurt by a man who has mastered the art of manipulations and lies. - Cindy Montgomery
Tallhotblond received Cindy’s message and was devastated. How had she been so candid and trusting with a man who wasn’t who he claimed to be? Why would anyone lie and trick an 18-year-old girl, such as herself?
Or, that might have been Jessi’s first thought, if she was who she claimed to be, but Jessi wasn’t the person who told Thomas she was, either. This is where the story gets weird: If “tallhotblond” was not a beautiful 18-year old virgin, who was she?
A woman named Mary Shieler, who had been secretly photographing and recording her daughter, then using the images to trick men online. Although everyone knew her as the “perfect” mother, who gave everything she could to her beautiful teenage daughter (whose name was actually “Jessi”), behind the scenes her life was far less healthy.
It was Mary who had sent g-string panties she bought or stole from her daughter’s dirty laundry. As creepy as it was, she would look for times when her daughter was showing even a hint of skin and photograph her, to exploit the images for her use. She also used photographs of her daughter working as a lifeguard, so she could share bathing suit photos with Thomas and incite his lust.
Although any sane, caring mother would have given up the ruse once Thomas was exposed and thought twice, Mary still pretended to be “tallhotblond”. She acted mad at Thomas and wrote that she felt he should be in “jail” for what he did, even though she was secretly still catfishing him!
In revenge, Mary publicly exposed Thomas Montgomery in online chatrooms and also came up with a more interconnected revenge plot. She would look for someone that Thomas knew, pursue a relationship with that individual, and make Thomas jealous. After all, Thomas still thought she was someone her daughter’s age, which gave her con all the power!
Her next victim? Thomas’ coworker, Brian Barrett, a handsome man of 22. “Tallhotblond,” told Brian that Thomas A.K.A. “marinesniper” had tricked her by pretending to be younger. Captivated by Jessi’s beauty, Brian quickly fell prey to her twisted web of sexy lies.
Together, Brian and “Jessi” bean to expose Thomas’ in the chatrooms they had used together. Despite doing this, “tallhotblond” would (still) sometimes message Thomas. That contact gave Thomas hope that she could eventually accept the real him – middle-aged and all.
Little did he know that “tallhotblond” was only playing with his emotions as she would waffle back and forth between communicating with him and pursuing Brian. Thomas’ messages to “tallhotblond” became increasingly threatening and violent, as he sent an instant message like, “Brian will pay in blood”.
Unfortunately, he delivered on his threats. When Thomas heard Brian gleefully telling their mutual coworkers that he was going to meet “tallhotblond” in person and pop her “cherry”, he was thrown into a blind rage. Addicted to the drama and filled with jealous lust, on September 15, 2006, Thomas shot and killed Brian Barrett with a military rifle, while he was leaving work.
Perhaps this horrible turn of events was foreshadowed when Brian wrote a January 2, 2006 note to himself, which read, “Tom Montgomery (46 years old) ceases to exist and is replaced by an 18-year old battle-scarred marine. He is moving to West Virginia to be with the love of his life.”
Once the report of the murder came in, police instantly zeroed in on Thomas Montgomery, as coworkers of the men worked knew about the online love triangle. Police captain Ron Kenyon later said that their first concern was to find out if “Jessi” was still alive.
Police was shocked when they arrived at Jessi’s home. Not only was Jessi not injured or in distress, but it was also her mother, Mary Shieler, who opened the door and admitted that she had been the one behind the scenes all along.
Although police tried, they could not find any way to charge Mary with a crime. Perhaps in some poetic justice, Mary’s husband divorced her, and her beloved daughter moved away and cut ties, as she attended college. The real Jessi had no idea what her mother had been doing in her name. Murdered Thomas Montgomery struck a plea deal to be jailed for murder, for 20 years.