I sit here at my desk, feeling incredulity, disgust, and sadness in equal measures.
Yesterday, I received an email from another WordPress blogger, PDX Running Chick, notifying me that one of her friends had forwarded my earlier Thomas Murray post to her. She thanked me for the post and told me that she had been planning to board a plane on March 23rd to spend 4 days in… you guessed it.. Puerto Rico. Being a smart and competent woman, she has changed her plans and notified Thomas accordingly.
No fucking kidding.
Of course, I knew there were other women out there that he was trying to ensnare. He is like a pernicious snake that simply grows a new head every time you cut one off. But to actually be faced with one of those women. To know how close she came to likely suffering the same fate as Jenni…. well, to say I was shaken is an understatement.
His audacity is shocking. His arrogance, astounding. You don’t need a clinical psych degree to see the sociopathy at work. This is a man so caught up in his own ego and fantasy, that he appears incapable of discerning the effects of his actions. It is this last part that makes him more than a laughingstock, in my mind. It is this last part that makes him truly dangerous.
That earlier post of mine has been reblogged numerous times, and if my site stats are accurate, the news of Thomas’ duplicity and manipulation has circled the globe several times over. And yet, there will be women who won’t have read it, women who won’t know, women who will fall for his madness and potentially pay a hefty price for their trust.
I have received many emails on this topic. Some from women who encountered Thomas, some from women who encountered men who behaved like Thomas, and some from women who acknowledged a “there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I” moment when they read the post. We are all susceptible. You only think you aren’t until it happens and you realize you are. We all have a dream of some form of Prince Charming. True, our particular versions may be vastly different, but deep down, most people want to feel special, and valued, and appreciated, and loved. Absent a lack of conscience, it is not difficult to figure out what, for any given person, that might look like, and then become that chameleon. We could probably all do it. But, for most of us, the very thought is sickening. To so completely manipulate anyone’s deepest heartfelt dreams and vulnerabilities seems cruel beyond contemplation.
I have also received emails from men. Men who are — quite frankly — utterly pissed off that another man should behave in this manner. These are men who have wives and daughters and mothers and friends that they feel protective and tender toward. Men who would never, ever consider using women in the ways and on the scale that Thomas has and does. Those emails make me particularly sad. One male blogger with whom I have corresponded a few times actually volunteered a method for me to confirm his identity. The fact that he should — even for a moment — feel the need to make such a offer is truly awful. Most of us are good people, but one bad apple really does sour the bushel doesn’t it?
His offer also made me think about the fact that, unlike my interactions with Thomas, I have never questioned this man’s identity or motivation. Perhaps part of that reason lies with the fact that he is not attempting to romance me, but I think the bigger answer is that he has been very transparent in our brief exchanges. There have been no red flags to explain or ignore. No personality quirks that cause discomfort or hesitation. It made me realize that con-men only succeed when there is the perfect storm of circumstances available to them: they have to catch us when we are willing to overlook the obvious. Because where there is a con-man, there are always red-flags and there are always reasons to doubt and wonder. They succeed only when we overlook those. And we overlook them when we are vulnerable or needy or distracted or overwhelmed. That is when we are ripe for exploitation by people who are absent a conscience. When we are grounded and focused and aware and confident, those people make no in-roads.
I have no idea what unsuspecting woman Thomas has in his cross-hairs today. Or how many more Thomases there are out there. Perhaps some of them are reading this now and cursing me. I hope so. I never had any intention of becoming a lightning rod for this conversation. I had no idea what would happen when I published that post. I don’t even feel this story is really mine; it is Jenni’s first and foremost.
But I am enormously relieved and gratified and joyful that something that I wrote could have possibly saved a decent woman from being sexually exploited, emotionally devastated, and potentially drugged and abused. I want to sincerely thank every single person who took the time to read that post, forward it, share it, or reblog it. Well done, folks, well done.