Internet Love Triangle Turns Deadly
Posted by shadmia on November 28, 2007
This is one of those stories that you just can’t make up. Thomas Montgomery is a 46-year-old married father of two girls (aged 12 and 14). He gets involved with an 18-year-old girl on the Internet named Jessi. Thomas lies to Jessi and says he is an 18-year-old marine named Tommy who is about to go off to Iraq. Thomas also created another alias for himself as Tom Sr so that Jessi could pass messages and packages through him (Tom Sr) to Tommy in Iraq. The two “young people” continue to chat and get to know each other better. Tommy sends her a picture of a young marine, claiming it was him. Jessi sends Tommy a picture of herself as a beautiful young blond. Tommy falls in love with Jessi. Jessi falls in love with Tommy. Tommy proposed marriage and Jessi accepted. He sent her poinsettias, and she sent him G-strings and dog tags engraved with the message TOM & JESSI ALWAYS & FOREVER.
In the meantime Thomas’ wife Cindy becomes suspicious of her husband’s online activities. She eventually finds some of Jessi’s mementos and unravels the truth. Cindy’s marriage might not have been the happiest, but contending with the layers of deceit she uncovered — not to mention a teenager’s lingerie — was too much:
“What I cannot believe is that you are living out some bizarre fantasy — as father and son,” she wrote in a note to her husband. “If you want to separate — We can… but to continue to lie to me & the kids while she is sending ‘your son’ gifts in the mail is not acceptable.”
The couple stayed in the same house, though Montgomery complained to a coworker about being consigned to the basement. As a mother, however, Cindy felt she had to do something for Jessi. She wrote a letter, enclosing a recent photo of her family.
“Let me introduce you to these people,” she said, describing her husband, Tom, her daughters, 12 and 14 years old, and herself. ” There was no son, she told Jessi, only her husband, a 46-year-old former marine. “From what I am pulling from your letters you are much closer to [my daughter’s] age than mine let alone Tom’s,” Cindy wrote. “Are you over the age of 18? In this alone, he can be prosecuted as a child predator.” Adding that Jessi could be her own daughter, Cindy offered some maternal advice: “Do not trust words on a computer.”
For most people that would have been the end of the story………But in this case the story has just begun!!
Jessi didn’t know who to believe. Was there no Tommy? Or had Cindy invented the story because she wanted Tommy for herself? Jessi found a friend Montgomery had mentioned, Brian Barrett, a 22-year-old student at Buffalo State College who worked part-time with Montgomery and played poker with him. When Barrett confirmed his friend’s trickery, Jessi was devastated. How could her “everything,” as she referred to Tommy, be a nothing? She turned to Barrett for solace.
Their conversations quickly turned intimate. Soon, in public forums online, she and Barrett called Montgomery a child predator and taunted him. Montgomery was furious. “Half the company” thought he was a “fucking loser and predator,” he IM’d Jessi. Parents no longer trusted him with their kids. His life was so destroyed that he appeared to be contemplating suicide. “U can say goodbye forever to me and Tommy,” he told Jessi.
Despite her own anger, Jessi couldn’t turn her back completely on Montgomery. He was all that remained of her lost Tommy, after all. Jessi promised Montgomery she would stop talking to Barrett, saying she took up with him mainly to get revenge. As it turns out Jessi lied. She continued to talk to Barrett. She seemed torn between the two men. Eventually, Montgomery found out that Jessi and Barrett were talking again. He was furious.
Later that evening, September 13, 2006 at 10:16 pm, Barrett punched out of work and walked to his white pickup truck in the parking lot. He swung open the door of his truck, settling into his seat. Three shots pierced the driver’s side window, and Barrett slumped sideways. He’d been shot in the neck and upper arm by what police believe was a .30-caliber carbine rifle.
When detectives later examined Barrett’s cell phone, they found Jessi’s number. Lieutenant Ron Kenyon called her in the middle of the night to confirm that she’d had an online relationship with Montgomery and to warn her that she might be in danger. He then sent a message to her local police department in West Virginia, requesting that a cop go to Jessi’s home at the address she’d given him.
Officer J. L. Kirk arrived the next morning at a dingy white house next to an automotive-parts dealer. But Jessi wasn’t there. Her mother, Mary, said that the teenager was away and that she had no way to contact her. Kirk reported back to Kenyon, who insisted that he’d just spoken to Jessi a few hours earlier and that she had to be in the house. Kirk continued questioning Mary, whose manner struck him as strange. The more he pressed, the more nervous she got until she finally “came clean,” as Kirk put it.
She was the woman Kenyon had spoken to. In fact, she was the woman Barrett had fallen so hard for. And yes, Mary was the woman Montgomery may have killed for. She’d used her daughter’s identity to beguile the two men.
Back in Buffalo, Kenyon couldn’t believe that the Jessi he’d talked to was really her mother. “She was very convincing,” he said. “She sounded like an 18-year-old girl to me.” He drove to West Virginia to see the truth himself — that the lithe 18-year-old blond of Barrett’s and Montgomery’s fantasies was a plump 45-year-old married mother of two with short brown hair.
When questioned, Mary said she joined Pogo a few years ago to relax and kill some time. It was only after she paid for the membership, however, that she realized she’d used Jessi’s screen name. Mary was directed to a teen room, and she never bothered to correct the mistake. She didn’t intend for her many admirers to fall in love with her. Nor did she fall in love with any of them; she says she is happily married to her husband of 23 years. Brian was a “sweetheart” and when he initiated the flirtation, she didn’t know how to discourage it without revealing her true identity. Tommy, she said, “was a child who needed someone to show him they cared.”
On November 27, 2006, police arrested Thomas Montgomery on murder charges.
At the trial Prosecutor Frank Sedita argued for the maximum sentence of 25 years, describing Montgomery’s “almost predatory” pursuit of the woman and his resentment of Barrett when she cooled to Montgomery’s advances after 1 1/2 years and thousands of pages of Internet chats.
“My wife and I don’t understand how this could happen, how such evil could walk the Earth,” Barrett’s father, Daniel, said at the sentencing hearing. “To gun down a boy over simple jealousy does not make sense to us.”
Montgomery’s lawyer said fantasy and reality blurred for the then-married father of two teenage daughters, who was involved in his church and was president of his daughters’ swim club. Montgomery, now divorced, attempted suicide in his jail cell after his arrest. He chose not to speak at his sentencing.
“Until September 2006, this was a man who held his head high,” attorney John Nuchereno said. “By September 2006 — call it an obsession, call it an addiction, call it what you want — he was suffering from a diminished capacity of some sort.”
48-year-old Thomas Montgomery, entangled in an Internet love triangle built largely on lies, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for killing his rival for the affection of a woman he had never met.