I suppose I have known for nearly a year that this post was coming, but a part of me hoped not. Then again, I suffered through Mike Boot-Camp, so I guess I know a cad and a charlatan when I encounter one now. Anticipating the inevitable destructive outcome is just part of the territory…
Pull up a seat and grab a glass of wine. This is a long one, and you’ll need both.
At the end of April 2011, when James and I were briefly broken up, a man known online only as “T” began commenting on my blog with some very provocative comments. I noticed and was surprised. At that point, to my knowledge, I didn’t have a single male follower. His first comment is here, on a post I wrote on April 24th, entitled “how’s that workin’ for ya?” I’d never read his blog or known of him prior to his first comment, but I promptly visited his blog and was oddly intrigued. At first, I couldn’t figure out if his hyper-testosterone bluster (his blog was called “Morning Wood”) and blatant self-promotion were real or tongue-in-cheek. Most of his commentators were women, and I noticed immediately how they fawned on him, fought for his attention, and flirtatiously bolstered his ample ego. Obviously, that was a little off-putting, but I was new to the blogging world and unsure what to make of it. “T” and I began trading blog comments, and then I received my first email from him, on April 29, 2011:
You know…Darling, I would never do anything to offend you…it’s not my style. What you think actually means something to me when most of the time, I don’t care about most people’s opinions. You seem to read me a bit too easily…the best part of that? I enjoy it…
Since we’re not on the forum of comments, I want to know…what bothered you..and yes…complete honesty works here…I have my ideas of what could have done it, but I want it from you….
Thus began an email and IM correspondence that lasted just over one week. One tumultuous, heady, confusing week. I became acquainted with “Thomas” and he attempted to romance me, to impress me, to lure me into his life. All said, I received 57 emails from him, and sent nearly that many in return, along with 38 yahoo chats back and forth and 8 photos of him (all G-rated). His attention was consistent and aggressive; his intent clear and unwavering: he was looking for the love of his life and, just possibly, I was it.
His words were romantic and passionate:
…if nothing less, I’ve found someone who stimulates my thoughts and evokes the mystery of needing more to be revealed… Intimate strangers reaching to start a solid foundation of friendship. I put no limits on any opportunity I see… To limit my conversations with you would be limiting who I think you are capable of being..and since I know so little but enough that I’m intrigued to put myself out there means I don’t take you lightly. I NEVER put myself out there…however, where there is risk, there is reward. I’m expecting nothing from you, however a woman like you seems more than interesting….I’m not a reader… but I read everything that you have to say… it’s more than that, it is how you say it… do I think you have your devilsh moments? of course..as do I…but for now, the man who has everyting is looking for sanctuary… the only way I will find it is to prepare for that moment when you see a fleeting opportunity that looks inconsequential and it becomes everything you ever wished for. Those are the opportunities that I have always been able to see and what has delivered me.
But it wasn’t just his poetic words, it was the dashing life he had — an incredibly successful real estate developer and high-end financial consultant living the grand life in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Multiple properties scattered across the Caribbean and the U.S., and a chateau being built in rural France. Luxury boats and a penchant for Hemingway-esque feats of daring. A divorced father with a devoted group of friends and business colleagues. A career so flexible and in-demand that he could move anywhere, and within days was assuring me that Colorado was not out of the question. He seemed beyond perfect. By the end of that week, he was persuading me to visit him in the Caribbean — to meet him in Puerto Rico for a long weekend of fun and romance.
And that’s when the little voice in my head kicked into gear.
I’m not going to reveal here what he did to slip up, as he might be reading and I hope he continues to make those mistakes, but slip up he did. And the bells in my head went off. I decided that a little background investigation was necessary, and within 5 minutes discovered that he was collecting women far and wide. I wrote him an email, politely informing him that I wouldn’t be visiting him in Puerto Rico or anywhere else. After a few terse exchanges, our short “relationship” ended. I mentioned it on my blog here. I didn’t hear from him again until August, 2011, when he sent me the following:
For all the sweet things you say…you should know… you’re an unforgettable personality…sexy…and you effin wear it well….
I wanted you…and i wanted you in the most real way possible..
By that time I was in love with James and had decided that Thomas’ self-aggrandizing ways were nauseating, but I wrote back kindly and sent him on his way with wishes for good luck.
That should have been in the end of the story. But it wasn’t. Not by a long shot.
You see, on the very same day in April that he first emailed me, he also contacted, for the first time, another blogger, named Jenni. Jenni authors a wildly popular blog, and I actually discovered her thanks to Thomas. After my contact with him ended, I kept an eye on her blog and on his… something in his manner toward her worried me a bit. I knew that he was a sophisticated manipulator and that she was easily manipulated by men. Bad combination. But, to be honest, I held out some hope that perhaps he could rise to the occasion and be the man she needed, and that she could be the strong woman to finally corral him. It seems ridiculous in hindsight, but I’ve never claimed to be anything less than a hopeless romantic about love…
Sure enough, in the fall, Thomas began pursuing Jenni relentlessly. By December, he had convinced her to visit him in the Caribbean later in the winter. Against his wishes, she blogged about it all, and I stood by, reading as she fell madly in love with a man I knew to be a conniving liar. But, at that point, I really only knew the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
Jenni went to Puerto Rico and spent four days with Thomas in early February. Four days that vacillated wildly between utter bliss and utter nightmare, culminating with being drugged with a roofie on her last night there, and awakening bruised and battered and confused. She has recently written about all the sad, sordid, heart-breaking details on her blog (if you’re interested, visit her there and read the posts about Puerto Rico and those immediately following). After reading about her experience upon her return, I grew suspicious and began investigating Thomas more fully, as did a few other bloggers. What we turned up was nothing less than shocking.
“Thomas” is Thomas Murray. He does, indeed, live in St. Thomas, with his wife(!) and at least two children. While Thomas was cavorting in Puerto Rico with Jenni, his wife was writing a charming and achingly innocent blog post about her gardening and subsequent rum cocktail (she has since pulled down her blog). Thomas is not a successful financier and real estate developer, but just a guy who owns a small vacation condo rental block with his wife. All those boats in the photos and stories of sailing? That’s because he owns — or maybe just manages? – a used boat company, and blogs about it here. There is no chateau in France, no running with the bulls in Pamplona, no climbing mountains in New Zealand. He is, however, a chronic womanizer — the hotel staff in Puerto Rico told Jenni he was a regular there. Yes, Thomas Murray is a less-than-average man in nearly every way imaginable.
But in one way, Thomas Murray is extraordinary: at the very least, Thomas is a sociopathic liar who preys on the feelings of vulnerable women. At the worst, he is a sexual predator capable of drugging an innocent young woman who flew 4,000 miles in the hopes of finding her true love.
When Jenni returned from Puerto Rico, Thomas — most likely terrified that his house of cards was about to come crashing down — began threatening her, should she be tempted to reveal anything about him or write anything negative about him. Jenni, still believing that the whole thing was a horrible misunderstanding and hoping that she could salvage something, was judicious in her treatment of him and circumspect in writing about their time together. But then the emails started rolling in from women like me — women all over North America! — whom he’d romanced and invited to Puerto Rico. And then, the clincher: when I found his wife’s blog and confirmed — once and for all — that they were indeed still married. Jenni used that blog to contact his wife and the two have since talked, sharing their joint misery and utter disbelief. The whole sad debacle is incredibly painful; I get knots in my stomach just thinking about what those two women have been through, and what his wife still has to wrestle with. I am not one to typically cast stones at a spouse who strays — no one knows another’s marriage unless they’re living it — but the depth and breadth of his lies and deceptions are what takes my breath away. The number of unsuspecting women he has involved in his web is truly staggering.
And I also feel guilty. In November, a mutual blogging friend asked me if I shouldn’t contact Jenni and try to dissuade her — after all, I had all the emails and IMs to show her — but I demurred, feeling that she wouldn’t believe me and would be certain that she was “different.” Jenni has since confirmed my reading of where she was at that point, but it does little to assuage my sense that I had a suspicion that this man was more than a garden-variety cad… I did wonder what he was capable of. But it was poor Jenni who had the bad luck to find out first-hand.
After Puerto Rico, I had warned Thomas, via comments on Jenni’s blog, that if he didn’t leave her alone, I would out him here with a hate blog to verbally castrate him beyond recognition. I have his phone number, I have his address, I have the names of his wife and children, I have lots of photos, I have all kinds of emails and IP addresses. I was ready to post them all.
But I’m not going to.
Out of respect for his wife and the brutal pain she must be enduring now, I will not eradicate any measure of privacy she may have to deal with her current situation. I do hope against hope that she does not allow the silver-tongued liar to slither out of his culpability, but that is her choice rather than mine. All I can do, as a measure of sisterly solidarity, is to offer her some modicum of privacy. Hopefully, he will reap what he has sown without any further assistance on my part. Leading Jenni to his wife’s blog was my contribution to his inevitable discovery, and will hopefully lead to some very serious therapeutic (if not criminal justice-based) intervention.
But I can’t stand the thought of his next victim. You see, I feel certain that Thomas will lay low for a little while and then resurface — perhaps with a new persona. I think he will entrap more women and ruin more dreams. And that has literally cost me sleep over the last two weeks.
So, I am offering my very own little public service: If you think that you or a friend is being wooed by Thomas Murray online or through a blog, email me — there’s an email button on my blog — and I will try to confirm or refute your suspicion, based on the information I currently have. I absolutely despise the idea that Thomas Murray should ever, ever be successful again in ensnaring another wonderful woman. Don’t feel foolish — just ask. Let’s help each other avoid the kind of man who ruins good and decent women for the more-deserving men out there who would treat them properly. There is probably little I can do to stop him, I know, but I feel better making the offer.
I think the lessons here are obvious, but clearly worth stating again. Ladies, if he seems too good to be true, he probably is. And no man whom you haven’t met — no matter how much you’ve emailed or texted or talked on the phone — can possibly know that you’re amazing and wonderful and the woman of his dreams. Real men who are grounded in reality and not lies do not talk like that. Real men know that you might be interesting and special and lots of great things, but they have to meet you before they really know that.
One final thought. My ex-husband has a lot of handy phrases, some of which make me crazy, but some of which are so accurate that I can’t deny them. One of the latter is this: “If you’re the only one saying it, then it probably isn’t true.” So, when a man is so busy telling you what a Man he is and how giving and generous and smart and successful and romantic and loving and perfect he is — RUN! That’s right, Run, Don’t Walk! And find someone who waits for you to say it. Because chances are, he’s none of those things. And you don’t want to find that out the hard way…. like Jenni did.