Over the last year, roughly ten people have told me to look into the story of Dirty John, after they realized what I'd lived through from 2014-2017. I have NO idea why it took me so long to check it out. Yesterday, I googled "Dirty John" and watched a Megyn Kelly segment.
My jaw dropped open.
The similarities are striking. The way in which John connected with unsuspecting women—online, of course. The post "love bomb stage" isolation his second wife said she endured. The women who came together to support one another. The lies and cover-up—always having an explanation for everything.
The rage he felt when he was finally being exposed.
If you haven't checked out the podcast or story, here's a link to the story in the LA Times:
I found myself remembering moments where I, too, chose to believe R's tales over written evidence. Recently, I even accidentally found an email reply (that I was blind copied on) that he crafted to his wife (whom he was separated from) because he was trying to put in writing what a great guy he is/was. In reality, she called the cops on him because he was screaming at her, denying her food, trying to kick her out of the house, and threatening to tell a different story to immigration because he knew she hadn't received her green card yet but was in the process at the time. This was 2015. He was still living with her at the time out of necessity and apparently making her life hell.
I read the email and I cried. How could I not believe her? How could I believe his twisted tale about her "overreacting because he opened her mail and she called the cops." The truth was all right there!! She spelled it out so clearly and even said, "...I understand this email of yours is your usual tactic to put lies in writing so that you may some day use them and present them as truth to your convenience. You are a cheater, a liar, a manipulator of the truth...."
I could have tried to help her. I could have saved myself and my family two more years of pain and abuse but I was still not wanting to see that what she was saying was real. And I was 'under his spell' which is common in these types of relationships.
I will forever regret not believing her from the moment I read her words in that email (and then blocking the email from my mind). I didn't even remember it until I "accidentally" found it in a sea of messages in my inbox almost three years later. To say I was guided to it is an understatement. I was meant to see it again and feel the gravity of it all.
In the Dirty John story, the newest wife's family hired a private detective to drum up what the hell was going on with John because they suspected he was a fraud. They delivered damning evidence to her and she took it to John. He then took her to a lawyer who lied and said, "John is the victim, here. None of this is real." Thankfully, she did eventually come to know that what they shared with her was VERY real and she went into hiding. Of course, the story ends with him coming after her daughter with a knife a year later in the parking lot where she worked. Thankfully, her daughter ended up being able to save herself and in self defense, killed him with his own knife he used to attack her.
It's mind-blowing to me that there are so many con men out there and social media fuels the fire. When asked what one take away was from their story, John's first wife and second wife both said, "do your homework and take your time with romantic partners." I think about this for my kids and all of my friends who are currently dating. I've always trusted everyone with blind faith but I don't do that anymore. And I'm teaching my kids to be discerning and trust their instincts.
Doing your homework and listening to your intuition will protect you from being involved in a similar Dirty John story. I can say from the countless emails I receive, the thousands of social media pages for survivors, and the Dirty John story, these tales are not few and far between.
They are everywhere.
It's a quiet, poisonous epidemic and discernment (homework + intuition) is the antidote.