September 15, 2006 near Buffalo, New York…
22 year old Brian Barrett finished his shift at the factory where he worked. He got in his car and was preparing to leave when 3 shots rang out. Brian was killed.
There was no way that he could have known that a chat room message from a user who called herself Talhotblond would lead to his death.
Talhotblond told Brian, who went by Beefcake in the chatrooms of the game website Pogo.com, that her real name was Jessi. She said that she was an 18 year old high school senior that had been engaged in an online relationship with a man that Brian worked with by the name of Thomas Montgomery.
Thomas went by the username MarineSniper. He told Jessi that he was an 18 year old Marine that was awaiting deployment to Iraq. The two met online in May 2005.
When the dust settled, it was discovered that Brian had been the only person in this love triangle that had been telling the truth and it cost him his life.
Thomas was really a 46 year old married father of two who had, in fact, been a Marine, but was never a sniper. He also taught Sunday school at his local church.
The conversations between Talhotblond and MarineSniper got hot and heavy. They professed their love for one another, Jessi sent risqué pictures of herself and Thomas even asked Jessi to marry him.
Then one day, the steamy relationship came to an abrupt end when one of Thomas’s daughters found his chat history on the computer. She told her mother who contacted Talhotblond. Thomas’s wife sent Jessi a picture of her family revealing his real age to his teen love interest.
Jessi was furious. She broke things off with Thomas. Unable to believe that she had been so easily fooled, Jessi contacted Brian to confirm Thomas’s true identity. The two began flirting and struck up an internet romance.
Brian and Jessi flaunted their budding relationship in public forums on Pogo and were openly hostile to Thomas. Jessi revealed his true identity and called him a predator. Despite embarrassing him publicly, she would still sometimes private message him and continue flirting.
Thomas began to think that she still liked him, the real him. He decided that he needed to get Brian out of the way.
By the time police arrived at the factory on the day of the shooting, everyone knew that Thomas had done it and he had fled the scene. Concerned for Jessi’s safety, officers were dispatched to her home in Oak Hill, West Virginia. Jessi’s mother, Mary Shieler, answered the door.
When the police explained why they were there, Mary broke down. She explained that Thomas had never actually talked to her daughter. The entire time, it had been her. She had posed as her daughter online and had even taken provocative pictures and video of her daughter, without Jessi’s knowledge, to send to men online.
Thomas was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Despite her connection to the murder, Mary hadn’t broken any laws and couldn’t be arrested.
Mary was also married, but after her confession to police, her husband divorced her. Jessi no longer speaks to her mother.
Brian’s family petitioned to enact laws in New York that would make Mary’s actions illegal in the future.
A video summary of this week’s post can be found at