On the fifteenth of September, 2006, three shots echoed in the carpark of a factory in Clarence, New York state. A 22 year old man was shot dead, his blood spilt over the front seats of his utility.
Thomas Montogmery, a middle-aged father of two, married in small town America, had killed one of his workmates in a jealous rage over a woman he had met not in real life but only on the Internet.
They say true love never dies. Here we have a passionate relationship where there had been no physical contact between the lovers (apart from the participants assumedly touching themselves). All they had shared was dialogue with each other. They built a relationship out of words. Mostly.
Could this be the new Platonic love for the twenty-first century? Contrary to the common conception of the Greek philosophers having sexual intercourse with young boys, the evidence points to their young charges being otherwise unpenetrated. The dirty old men just stood behind them and masturbated. If a man had sexual congress in a passive position, he was considered shamed and unfit to participate in a political life – a cruel fate for a citizen of the city where civic life and living were very close to each other in the youthful civillisation that was fifth century BC Greece.
Reams of paper were used in the court case to print out hundreds of pages of correspondence from online chats between Mary Sheiler and Thomas Montgomery. There were also images. Hundreds of photos of Jessi like this one
were stored on Tommy’s computer sent to him by the object of his desire in absentia, a middle-aged housewife also living in small town America.
Online, Mary Sheiler played the part of an eighteen year old girl, tall and athletic, called Jessi. Jessi had her whole life ahead of her. She wanted to break out of small town America and she planned to use Tommy to make it happen. Tommy was old enough to be her son but she led him up the garden path.
Tommy aka marinesniper. played the part of a 22 year old Marine who went to Iraq to risk his life to fight for Jessi and America. He had raped a cheerleader when he was seventeen and in a fit of remorse joined the Marines. He always wanted to perfect himself, to try his grit against another.
The only real player in this love triangle, was Brian. He was the demystifier. When the truth about Tommy came out, Jessi asked Brian whom he had been introduced to by Tommy, and Brian told her it was all true.
Dejected and hurt by the lies, Jessi threw herself at Brian and he reciprocated. Soon they were having an online affair (still no bodily contact). Brian told his work colleagues about Thomas and Jessi, the 18 year old blond bombshell. Brian was only telling the truth but Thomas did not like it.
Brian and Thomas were friends and work colleagues at a factory that built parts for hardware tools in small town America. They knew each other, had beers together, shared a laugh and played poker on Friday night.
Brian is dead, murdered by Thomas, shot in the aforementioned utility.
Thomas is appealing a twenty year sentence for the murder of Brian.
Mary is living freely in small town America with her parents. She plans to write a book about the dangers of the Internet.
Jessi no longer has anything to do with her mother. Jessi is a real person whose identity was stolen. She is the woman in the photo. She is Mary Sheiler’s daughter.
This is a true story.
The documentary can be watched on ABC’s iView for the next two weeks.