Thomas Montgomery: Bizarre Love Triangle
"Tommy" Montgomery was an 18-year-old Marine about to be deployed to Iraq. He described himself online as 6'2, 180 pounds. He said he had a black belt in karate and that he already sported an array of battle scars.
He met a 17-year-old girl from West Virginia, Jessi, on the game site Pogo.com in the spring of 2005. He told her his mom had died of cancer when he was twelve. She sympathized, and he opened up. He had raped a cheerleader in high school, he said, but then had turned himself around and followed his dad, Tommy Sr., into the Marines.
Tommy and Jessi spent more and more time chatting online on Pogo, MySpace and Yahoo. They even scheduled 10-minute phone conversations each day, before and after Tommy's military duties. When Tommy was in Iraq, his father passed messages and photos between the two, through his Marine contacts.
Tommy got jealous when he started suspecting that Jessi was sending her photos to other men online too. To make it up to him, she sent him one of her thongs and a silver chain. Tommy calmed down and forgave her—but Tommy Sr. stepped in and sternly warned her not to hurt his sensitive, inexperienced son.
Still, he kept relaying their messages. When Tommy considered suicide in Iraq, Jessi kept him going. He said she was the best thing that ever happened to him. She sent him some custom-made dogtags. He tattooed her name on his arm.
And on Christmas Day, 2005, Tommy asked Jessi to marry him. She said yes. They'd never even met.
If they had, Jessi and Tommy would both have realized that nearly everything that they had told each other was a lie.