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On-Line Love Triangle Leads to Murder
Aired June 28, 2012 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NANCY GRACE, HOST: Breaking news tonight. A West Virginia senior in high school, a softball player, calls herself Tallhotblond on line, takes to the Internet to strike up a romance in a teen chat room with Marinesniper, a handsome 18-year-old set to deploy to Iraq.
But there`s just one problem. He`s not 18. And she`s not, either. He`s actually a balding 46-year-old Sunday school teacher, a married father of two. And she`s actually a 45-year-old secretary and a mother posing as her teen daughter on line.
Bombshell tonight. It`s actually almost laughable until that on-line teen love affair ends in murder.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the world of cyberspace, it was just one chance encounter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Calls herself a beautiful 18-year-old blonde.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tallhotblond.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The other says he`s a handsome young Marine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Wish I could be that 19-year-old Marine for you."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) I was older. Emotionally, I was immature.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who would have thought it would lead to a two-year affair, a love triangle, and more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Wish you were nude."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "What would you do?"
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "You might get the magic."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Montgomery`s wife Cindy (ph) discovers her husband`s terrible secret.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Jessi, enclosed you will find a picture of my family. The man in the center is Tommy, my husband."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The vengeful girl turns to one of his much younger co-workers on line.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brian Barrett.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So she`s -- she`s, like, really is tall, hot and blonde?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How would I know?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "I wish I had a perfect life like you and Brian do."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "What does Brian have to do with this?"
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "You told him I`m a loser and predator."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was confused, and I didn`t know which way to go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The electronic love triangle soon becomes very real when the furious rivalry ends in cold-blooded murder.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Good evening. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us.
A West Virginia senior in high school, a softball player -- she calls herself Tallhotblond on line -- takes to the Internet. She strikes up a romance in one of those teen chat rooms with another teen called Marinesniper, a handsome 18-year-old set to deploy to Iraq.
But there`s only one problem. He`s not 18, and she`s not either. He is a balding 46-year-old Sunday school teacher, a married father of two. She is not tall, hot, blond. She`s a 45-year-old secretary. She`s a mother posing as her teen daughter on line.
They each think that they`re communicating with a hot teen on the other end. It`s actually laughable until this on-line teen love affair comes to a tragic end. It ends in murder.
We are taking your calls. I want to go straight out first to John Phillips, host of KABC. John, so you`ve got a 46-year-old man, a 45-year- old woman. Both of them are parents. They both separately, independently go into a teen chat room posing as teens and strike up a love affair with somebody they meet in the chat room.
And for two years, they carry on about having sex and being nude and the magic, blah, blah, never knowing that each other is lying?
JOHN PHILLIPS, KABC: Right. Well, as you mentioned in your opening, you`re dealing with a portly, dim-witted, bald man who is living an essentially pathetic life. Same thing with the woman in West Virginia. And they turn to the Internet. They turn to these chat rooms to try to live up to a different persona.
They`re playing some sort of game on line, and neither one knew that they were playing the other person. And it`s really an act of two mentally ill people, two people who are loony tunes, Nancy, who...
GRACE: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!
PHILLIPS: ... are looking for escapism.
GRACE: Don`t start out with saying -- throwing mentally ill out there because in my world of crime and justice, when you say insane or mentally ill, you`re talking about a legal definition that could get the killer off and he could end up doing six months in the crazy bin and then walking free, all right? So when we say mentally ill and insane, right here in this house, you got to be able to back it up with facts and law.
Now, John Phillips, these two adults, a 45-year-old and a 46-year-old Sunday school teacher, they don`t care that they`re playing a teen?
PHILLIPS: No, they don`t because -- well, first of all, each one was doing it, so no one is better than the other in this particular game of deception that they were playing.
GRACE: Not what I asked. I asked you, Did they think they were pulling it over on a teen?
PHILLIPS: Oh, absolutely.
GRACE: Freaks. Freaks! Freaks!
PHILLIPS: Absolutely, the thought -- freaks is the exact right word, Nancy. That`s what they are. They`re freaks and a potential pedophile. I mean, that`s -- that`s really how I see this. If you think you`re talking to an underager, if you`re an adult and you think you`re talking to an underage girl, you`re a weirdo.
GRACE: We are taking your calls. I want to go out to Jean Casarez, joining us tonight, legal correspondent, "In Session."
And this on-line love affair continues. You know what? Let`s listen to what these two are texting and writing and saying to each other on phone conversations. You`re going to bust a gasket. You`re going to blow a gasket, Jean Casarez.
I don`t know if you`ve heard these or not, but remember, this is a 45- year-old part-time secretary posing as her teen daughter. The teen daughter doesn`t know anything about it. That`s why we`re blurring the teen daughter`s photo. And this young cadet here? No. He`s a 46-year-old balding Sunday school teacher, father of two.
And this is what they`re saying to each other before it all blows up in murder.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "I ache to be with Tommy. Do you miss it. Tom?"
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "More than you will ever know. My heart aches to hear you call me your Tommy. I wish I could be that 19-year-old Marine for you."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "I know, Tom."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Wish you were nude."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "What would you do?"
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Stare."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "That`s all?"
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Nope. You might get the magic."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Make love to me, Tommy."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "On Friday or Saturday, you can say good-bye forever to me and Tommy."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Why?"
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "We are leaving for good."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "No!"
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Yes, Jessi. You are having fun in your life now, so it`s time for us to leave."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "No, Tom. Don`t take Tommy!"
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "He`s going with me. You replaced him with Timmy."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Please don`t say that. It`s not true."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "According to the text I got, it is true."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "No, it isn`t."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "So it`s time for Tommy to be put to rest."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "I will leave."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "I wish I had a perfect life like you and Brian do. That`s up to you, Jessi. It`s your choice."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "What does Brian have to do with this? You`re not going to forgive this one."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "He left a few copies of your conversation on my toolbox today. Half the company knows now."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Knows what?"
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "What you two talked about."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "No, Tom."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "How you told him I`m a loser and predator, I don`t have a life. Three hours, you two were talking about me."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Why are you saying that?"
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "My heart will exist no more after Saturday, so I will forgive with an e-mail. Then the Tom and Tommy you knew will no longer exist."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "No, Tom, you can`t do that."
(END AUDIO CLIP)
GRACE: OK, these are texts and e-mails, conversations going back and forth between these two, a 46-year-old man, a 45-year-old woman each thinking the other is a teen, a very handsome and a beautiful teen.
The reality is, the victim in this case is a young man, Brian Barrett, just 22 years old, a co-worker of the suspect, shot three times in the neck, jaw, and arm close range by a rifle, a high-powered rifle. And al he did was text back and forth to this 45-year-old woman posing as Tallhotblond. This is what happened.
With me right now is Daniel Barrett. His son was murdered as a result of this Internet triangle, which in itself was a big hoax. Daniel, I`m just sick hearing these facts. I want to hear about your son. I want to hear what 22-year-old Brian was like.
DANIEL BARRETT, FATHER OF MURDER VICTIM (via telephone): Hi, Nancy. Our son was just a great kid. He was a 22-year-old, big, strong, happy, young man. I mean, his entire life revolved around getting up every morning at 6:30, going to school until 3:00, and going over to Dynabreak (ph) from 3:00 to 10:00 for a second shift to afford to go to school.
And on weekends, him and his best buddy, Joe, would get together and do what 22-year-olds do in western New York, find a place that serves chicken wings and maybe a beer and a pool table.
GRACE: With me is...
BARRETT: And on Sundays, he would get up and him and his buddy volunteered and were coaching a Little League baseball team. That was his summer, his last summer.
GRACE: With me is Brian`s father -- 22-year-old Brian Barrett gunned down as a result of a phony love triangle on line. Daniel, when you first learned your son, Brian, had passed away, how did all that play out? What happened?
BARRETT: Well, we were gone for the weekend. Friday, my wife and I and our youngest son went camping with another family and their young son. Him and I have been Cub Scout leaders for a few years, and the boys played together on our soccer team.
We went camping for the weekend and came home Sunday morning, and realized when we walked through the door something was wrong because Brian had not been home to feed the cats. And about an hour later, the police and the sheriff showed up at our door. And when they knocked on the door and I opened the door, I knew something was bad. And I just remember screaming at them, Is he OK?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 46-year-old married father of two has just proposed marriage to a teenager, Tallhotblond.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her bio (INAUDIBLE) says she was 18. So I figured I`ll talk back to her. You know, she`s probably a nice-looking girl.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Thomas Montgomery was so obsessed and consumed...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How you went from being the 46-year-old man that you were...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, to 18 years old.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... to an 18-year-old.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The affair abruptly ends in a hail of gunfire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I couldn`t help it. She just started to talk to me, and this and that. It was innocent at first, but she kept at it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, don`t try to blame her, Thomas! You were the adult here. At least, you were supposed to be. Why don`t you try being an adult now, and you tell me why!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t know. I honestly don`t know. I got caught up in it. I can`t explain it, Carol. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I feel -- it just didn`t turn out. I just wanted something that would...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: You are seeing video from the Lifetime original movie called "Tall Hot Blonde (ph)," and it is actually named after the pseudonym a 45- year-old part-time secretary uses. She poses as a teen on line, and on line seduces what she believes to be another teen, pictured here. This is the photo he used on line. He`s actually a 46-year-old Sunday school teacher, a father of two and very much married.
We are taking your calls. To Dr. Bethany Marshall. Before I can unleash a lawyer, I think we need a shrink. Help me out, Bethany.
BETHANY MARSHALL, PSYCHOANALYST: Well, the confusion between fantasy and reality reminds me of the teenage couple whose real-life baby starved because they were building a virtual baby on line, so they were more interested in fantasy than reality. That`s one thought, that this -- these two posers were creating a fantasy in their mind that was more compelling than the reality of their everyday lives.
And the other thing is it has a masturbatory quality in that they`re very sexually charged and enlivened by whatever`s an extension of their own fantasy, their own thoughts, their own images of themselves, trying to relive their glory days -- that first high, that first youthful sexual experience.
And they`re not bonded to anybody in their lives. And that`s what we see with perversions, that the person is more connected to, like, a foot, a chain, a feather, a fetish, an image, words on the keyboard than they are to the reality of the people around them.
GRACE: Unleash the lawyers, Eleanor Odom, Kirby Clements, Peter Odom, defense attorney joining us out of Atlanta.
Eleanor Odom, their fantasy life may not have been real, but this murder is real, a 22-year-old young man, a fine young man. His father is with us live tonight -- lost his life, multiple gunshot wounds to the face, the jaw, point-blank range, over a girl neither had ever met. It was just an on-line flirtation.
ELEANOR ODOM, PROSECUTOR: Yes, Nancy. And you know what`s even scarier is the woman that was posing as the 18-year-old Tallhotblond -- you know, she is just as guilty of murder as the person who pulled the trigger. It was like she drove him to it and drove him to it and tortured him in such a way that makes her guilty of murder, as well, in my opinion.
GRACE: Out to the lines. Sonya in Florida. Hi, Sonya. What`s your question?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. I love you! And my daughter Alexa loves you, too, and we love the twins.
GRACE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just to reiterate what the specialist just said -- I saw the documentary and Courtney Cox`s (ph) movie. They couldn`t charge the mother with something? And was there any way that Montgomery could have gotten a lesser charge since, obviously, he snapped?
GRACE: You know, I want to talk about the grown woman in this scenario. Eleanor Odom, back you again. I agree with Sonya. It seems as if she has some responsibility in this.
ELEANOR ODOM: I think so, Nancy. I mean, it`s almost like a party to a crime type of charge because she was the one who goaded...
GRACE: Oh, here`s the picture of the mom, El. Take a look at your monitor. That`s Tallhotblond.
ELEANOR ODOM: I know. I think Dr. Bethany...
GRACE: That is Tallhotblond!
ELEANOR ODOM: ... would have a lot -- yes, Dr. Bethany would have a lot to say about that. Certainly, she has some kind of fantasy life.
GRACE: Well, wait, wait, wait! El, and not only is she being Tallhotblond, she`s using pictures of her daughter. She actually sent this guy her daughter`s underwear.
ELEANOR ODOM: And you know, Nancy, that`s not technically a crime, which is just sick, if you think about it. She had to go and physically get that underwear in order to send it away to somebody she thought was a Marine. I mean, that is just sick behavior, not illegal, though. And that`s what`s scary about this type of crime.
GRACE: Let`s see Odom and Clements, please, Peter Odom and Kirby Clements. Peter Odom, Kirby Clements...
PETER ODOM, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nancy.
GRACE: She sent her daughter- Kirby, before you`re polluted by Peter Odom on this one, let me just try to reason with you. She goes and gets her teen daughter`s underwear and mails it to this guy she thinks is a teen himself. Thoughts?
KIRBY CLEMENTS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I do have to say that that is -- that`s just crazy what she did. I will tell you...
GRACE: It`s not legally crazy.
CLEMENTS: No, not legally crazy, but I will -- I will suggest...
GRACE: She`s stirring the pot, and then it boils over.
CLEMENTS: When we were prosecutors in Fulton County, Nancy, we had often cases where, you know, somebody got killed because someone else started. We used to call it "starting stuff." And I agree with Eleanor. This woman certainly started...
GRACE: I never called it that.
CLEMENTS: Well, we didn`t use the word "stuff." We used something else.
GRACE: You can call it "starting stuff" all you want to. I call it malice murder.
CLEMENTS: No, it`s -- no, I would say that that man...
GRACE: ... were both in it kit and kaboodle.
CLEMENTS: It should have been -- his emotional state was such that it wouldn`t be murder. I would suggest, if anything, if I were his lawyer, I would try to say it`s manslaughter because of the fact that they tried to make this guy out to the a pedophile. He`s 46. The woman that he thought he was going after was a woman, an 18-year-old woman. But they made him think...
GRACE: Well, that...
GRACE: We learned that in first year of law school. That`s mistake of fact. And on -- in this case, it`s like you think you`re selling cocaine, but you`re really selling a turnip, all right? I don`t care what you meant to do. You didn`t commit a crime. And here, he did not commit a crime, no matter what he meant to do. He was not luring a teenager, Peter Odom.
But forget that. He`s busy with the murder charge. I`m concerned about the on-line temptress, Tallhotblond, the 45-year-old -- let`s see Tallhotblond, the 45-year-old -- come on. This is actually her daughter she`s using photos of, Pete Odom.
PETER ODOM: Yes, Nancy. It`s amazing. I`m agreeing with the prosecutors here. Tallhotblond set in motion a chain of events, the natural result of which had to be murder, and she knew it. Why they`re not looking at her...
GRACE: She knew that they...
PETER ODOM: ... is just amazing to me.
GRACE: ... worked together. She knew that she...
PETER ODOM: She had to know it.
PETER ODOM: She had to know it. And she knew that she was playing with fire. Why isn`t she charged here?
GRACE: Well, you`re leaving out the guy that pulled the trigger. They should both stew in the same pot together, Peter Odom!
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What on earth are you doing on there?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, e-mails, surfing, the usual. Why?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ve been on line for two hours.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, look who`s talking. You`ve been hogging it practically every night for the last month. I`m just going to be a little bit. What?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told the guys I`d be there at 9:00 o`clock. That was an hour ago. Can`t you do that some other time?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes, like, I`ve got all the time in the world. You can miss one night of computer on-line poker every once in a while. It won`t kill you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: That is video from lifetime original movie "Tall Hot Blonde." And let me tell you something. Daddy wasn`t playing poker on line. He was having an on-line love affair with who he believed to be Tallhotblond, a teen girl. She was actually a 45-year-old part-time secretary with a teen daughter. He is a 46-year-old balding father of two Sunday school teacher.
We`re blurring her photo because that`s her daughter, her teen daughter`s photo she`s using. We`re not blurring his photo because guess who that is? That is actually Montgomery many, many years ago. That`s him. He`s intentionally using this old photo to pretend he is the military boy on line.
We are taking your calls. And I want to go out to Daniel Barrett. This is the victim, Brian Barrett, 22 years old, gunned down. He`s the father in this case.
Daniel, when you hear these facts, it must make your stomach turn.
BARRETT: Oh, yes. I mean, my wife and I were sick and literally I think almost throwing up in the beginning when we found out about it. I just -- I don`t know. I cannot possibly imagine somebody pretending to be that way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Three hours you two were talking about me."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "What did you say to him?"
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "I didn`t."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Why not?"
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "It`s not worth it anymore."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "I will get out of your life, Tom. I`ve done too much damage to be undone now. I`m so sorry."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "You made it perfectly clear what you want by your talk with Brian."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "You will never forgive me."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "That is up to you, Jessi. I will on Saturday."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "What do you want, Tom? You will what on Saturday?"
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Forgive you."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Why Saturday?"
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "I`m leaving."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Where are you going?"
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "To hell, I hope."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Tom, stop! Why are you saying that?"
MARINESNIPER1000: My heart will exist no more after Saturday and will never feel compassion for another person until I die. You could have been honest with, Jessi, instead of crying on Brian`s shoulder.
TALHOTBLONDBIG50: I know. I`m sorry, Tom.
MARINESNIPER1000: It`s too late, Jessi. This (EXPLETIVE DELETED) loser is leaving on Saturday.
TALHOTBLONDBIG50: Please don`t do that.
MARINESNIPER1000: Why do you care?
TALHOTBLONDBIG50: You know I care and why.
MARINESNIPER1000: After what I read, you don`t give a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) about me or your Tommy.
TALHOTBLONDBIG50: You`re wrong.
MARINESNIPER1000: Do you want me to repeat what you said, or do you remember?
TALHOTBLONDBIG50: No, I remember.
MARINESNIPER1000: You still have it, don`t you?
MARINESNIPER1000: Then you begged Brian to stay with you when he told you to leave him alone?
TALHOTBLONDBIG50: Life was so much better when you were my Tommy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Back to Jean Casarez, legal correspondent, "In Session." So how does it unfold? What happens? Talhotblond who professes to be a beautiful young teen girl, she`s actually a 45-year-old secretary, and she`s using her teen daughter`s photos to lure this kid online. The kid turns out to be a 46-year-old Sunday school teacher, father of two.
But how does the young 22-year-old, the real kid in this picture, the 22-year-old Brian Barrett, who ends up dead, how does he get into the love triangle?
JEAN CASAREZ, LEGAL CORRESPONDENT, "IN SESSION": That`s the most important part of the story, Nancy, because Talhotblond, she`s instant messaging one night Montgomery, and lo and behold who`s on the computer but Montgomery`s daughter. And she sees this instant message seductive from a woman, she tells her own mother who is Montgomery`s wife, Marinesniper`s wife.
She sees it, so the wife of Montgomery sends an e-mail to this woman, Jessi, who is the 50-year-old middle-aged woman you`ve seen on the screen saying, here`s a picture. Here`s the man you`ve really been corresponding with for several years. What do you think now? This is my husband.
So then Jessi brings in, lures Brian Bennett, an innocent bystander, to start to ask him questions. Is this for real? And then she starts to aggressively pursue this young man. He`s truly a young man. And that`s how it becomes this triangle. Brian Bennett just involuntarily gets included, and Montgomery decides, I`m going to take somebody out allegedly, and I`m going to kill him so I can get Jessi back.
GRACE: OK, question, Jean Casarez. How did Talhotblond, the, what, 50-year-old woman posing as a teen -- how did she know the details of Montgomery and Brian Barrett`s work life?
CASAREZ: Good question. I think in the two years that they had corresponded, she learned of this person that he worked with. And I think that`s how she was able to correspond with him, too.
GRACE: So bottom line she thinks that she`s speaking to a teen, a very handsome young teen, about to be deployed to Iraq who has this job and works with 22-year-old Brian Barrett. That`s the way I understand the facts.
CASAREZ: That`s the way I understand the facts, yes.
GRACE: Joining me right now is a special guest. It`s Barbara Schroeder. Joining me out of L.A. who produced the film on this case, including an interview with the alleged killer. Remember, the Sunday school teacher, the father of two? The 46-year-old balding man who pretends to be a strapping, young, and handsome guy about to be deployed to Iraq?
Miss Schroeder, thank you for being with us.
BARBARA SCHROEDER, PRODUCED FILM ON CASE THAT INCLUDES INTERVIEW WITH KILLER: Hi, Nancy. Let me --
GRACE: Miss Schroeder --
SCHROEDER: Can I disagree? Earlier I think it was John who said that he thought that these people were insane and Looney Tunes. And I -- I respectfully disagree. I think these were average people who had boring lives and holes in their souls, and they needed something to make them feel special. And in the case of, you know, both Thomas Montgomery and Mary Shieler, they wanted something to do. They wanted to have fun.
And that`s why they got caught up in this fantasy and their fantasies is fell in love with each other. And I think it can happen -- this kind of stuff can happen to everybody, but when it leads to murder, that`s when it gets a little crazy and, you know, they clearly crossed the line. In fact, Mary Shieler helped Thomas Montgomery cross the line.
GRACE: Explain your thinking on that. How did Mary Shieler, the 45- year-old Talhotblond 18-year-old beauty online, how did she help him commit murder?
SCHROEDER: Well, I mean, bottom line, the guy who pulled the trigger is Thomas Montgomery. He`s the killer. That`s inexcusable. He`s a pathetic person. But clearly, and I`m looking at the stack, the two-foot stack of instant messages that exchanged here between these people and also the triangle with Brian Barrett. He was clearly manipulated.
If you read these e-mails, he was clearly manipulated by a woman who should have stopped playing her game. Even after she found out Montgomery was lying to her and Montgomery was 47, she continued to play the game that she was this young, beautiful teenager. And in this stack of instant messages, over a dozen times Montgomery begs her. He`ll say, leave me alone. I`m not a yo-yo for you to play with.
And she won`t leave him alone. She keeps luring him back in. She wants the sex. She says, look, I want you to pretend to be Tommy again, and had she stopped playing her game at any point in time, Brian Barrett would still be alive today.
GRACE: OK. This is hard for me to even get my head around, so even after she learns she`s not talking to an 18-year-old kid about to head off to Iraq, she`s talking to a 46-year-old man, she still continues her charade posing as a teen?
SCHROEDER: Right. Thomas Montgomery -- Thomas Montgomery didn`t know that he was talking to a teenager until he was in prison and they handed him a picture and said, hey, here`s -- by the way, here`s the Talhotblond you thought you were talking to. What a crazy moment that was for him. And the guard said he turned as white as -- as white as the walls that were behind him because he found out that he just threw his life away for a fantasy that never existed.
GRACE: Wow. OK. What actually happened? When did he find out the truth as to who he had been corresponding with?
SCHROEDER: Sadly, after he -- after he killed Brian. So he went through this whole charade, and she manipulated and kept egging him on and kept luring him back in, drove him crazier than some people feel that he already was. And, you know, imagine that moment when you`re handed a photo of the girl that you just killed a man over. He must be -- and the "Lifetime" movie portrays that extremely well.
GRACE: And the reality is neither of these men had ever met her. They certainly had never slept with her. Yet, one was willing to commit murder over somebody online.
I`ve got to go to Brian`s father, Daniel Barrett. His son murdered in this Internet love triangle.
Daniel, have you ever considered a civil lawsuit against this woman?
DANIEL BARRETT, SON MURDERED IN INTERNET LOVE TRIANGLE: Yes, we have. And in the end she`s a -- I guess a worthless piece of meat out there, and a civil suit would do nothing. I mean, we filed a civil suit against Tom Montgomery with the attitude of stopping him from ever trying to write a book and winning monies and things of that nature. And Mary Shieler, she has nothing. She`s just a piece of dirt.
GRACE: Well, you`re accurate about that. I just keep feeling a sense of injustice, Mr. Barrett. Not only about -- speaking as a crime victim myself, a tangential victim of murder, there`s a guy behind bars for that murder, but she is still walking free. I know you say she`s a piece of dirt, but I would feel better if that piece of dirt didn`t have a house or a car.
BARRETT: That piece of dirt belongs in prison. That`s where she belongs, and that`s one of the reasons why we`re on the phone talking, is because I just feel it needs to change. You shouldn`t be able to do and manipulate what she did to the level that she took, and then walk away and say that was interesting. I`m going on to my next little project.
GRACE: As far as I`m concerned, Daniel Barrett, she should be charged with murder.
Why not, Eleanor? Why not a conspiracy charge?
ELEANOR ODOM, FELONY PROSECUTOR, DEATH PENALTY QUALIFIED: Well, the law just doesn`t --
GRACE: Aiding or abetting.
E. ODOM: I agree, Nancy. And there might be something very creative but the law here just didn`t allow for it, and that`s what`s so sad. It can be changed, though, to allow for it in the future.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She said, hey, cowboy, how are you doing? I said, hey, Tall, how are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you first see it come up and she says hello, and it says Talhotblond, what are you thinking?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I checked out her bio. It said she was 18, so I thought I`d talk to her. You know, she`s probably a nice looking girl.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is one catch that almost end the connection before it began. Montgomery was in a teen chat room and his profile reveals his real age. Talhotblond calls him on it right away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I panicked. That`s when I told her, I`m playing on my dad`s name.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that`s how you went from being a 46-year-old man that you were.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. To 18 years old.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: To an 18-year-old.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Marine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you, too.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re still up?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t go creeping up on me like that, Carol. That almost gave me a heart attack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: You`re seeing part of a "Lifetime" original movie called "Talhotblond" and they get that name, Talhotblond, from a moniker that a 45-year-old mother, part-time secretary picks to go online posing as that girl, her daughter. There`s the real Talhotblond. Well, it ended in murder.
We are taking your calls. I want to go to Dr. Michelle Dupree. Medical examiner, forensic pathologist.
This erupted in violence. The point-blank shooting of a 22-year-old young man. A love rival over a girl none of them had never -- had ever even met. What damage would that have done? Was there any way to have saved the victim in this case, Brian Barrett? Just 22 years old.
DR. MICHELLE DUPREE, MEDICAL EXAMINER, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Nancy, that`s a good question, but the thing is with a high-powered rifle it`s that amount of kinetic energy that`s displaced into the body when that rifle goes off. That is a formidable injury.
GRACE: There`s really no way to save him, but now still one part of this love triangle is left unattended. The woman behind the whole thing.
With me, John Lucich, criminal investigator, president of E Forensics. We know all about getting text messages, but how do police go back and obtain, for instance, chat room transcripts?
JOHN LUCICH, CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR, PRESIDENT, E FORENSICS: Well, unfortunately, depending upon what that person has done to that computer, it may or may not be retrievable. There`s a couple of things they can do. Number one, sometimes these people are so obsessed with their activities they themselves save those chat room to logs that people -- police can recover.
In addition to that, if they haven`t done anything that varies the computer, we have seen data live on computers for over three and a half years and the cops can actually go and look into the what they call the unallocated portions of the hard drive where all of these text messages and all of these chats will be saved.
We had a gentleman running it out his computer company and we actually went back and we`re able to retrieve all that to get him terminated from his job. So --
GRACE: Off the physical computer itself. You know, I got a question. Let`s go to Peter Odom, Kirby Clements and Bethany Marshall.
Peter Odom, what is a 46-year-old man doing trolling online for 18- year-old girls while his wife is upstairs asleep and his two daughters are asleep?
PETER ODOM, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nancy, I can`t believe you`re even asking that question. He`s doing what millions of men are doing. They`re out there --
GRACE: That doesn`t mean it`s right.
P. ODOM: It doesn`t mean it`s right. They`re out there, they`re anonymous, they`re living out their fantasies, they`re doing what they think is safe. Unfortunately, it`s not. And in the real world --
GRACE: Bethany, I think --
P. ODOM: -- these things can lead to tragedy.
GRACE: Although Kirby and Peter are both great trial lawyers, I think we need a shrink on this one.
BETHANY MARSHALL, PSYCHOANALYST, AUTHOR OF "DEALBREAKERS": Well, he`s perverse obsessed and he has a compulsion, and the underlying compulsion is to create the sense of the ideal life, love and admiration, and he needs it constantly like a fix. And the minute it goes away, he tries to neutralize it by getting it back again. And that`s what she does, too. That`s why they`re constantly online with each other.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Furious rivalry ends in cold-blooded murder.
MARINESNIPER1000: You could have been honest with me, Jessi, instead of crying on Brian`s shoulder.
TALHOTBLONDBIG50: I know. I`m sorry, Tom.
MARINESNIPER1000: It`s too late, Jessi.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Talhotblond? You know what?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: That`s the lifetime original movie "Talhotblond." I got a question, maybe I`m just, you know, behind the times. What`s a private chat, Barbara Schroeder? What is that?
SCHROEDER: When you`re in a game room like a pogo.com, and you`re talking to people, you can also pull to a little side table, and your little avatar can actually go to the side and you can have a private chat to talk one-on-one which is --
GRACE: You mean the fake people talk to other fake people?
SCHROEDER: Exactly, fake people pretending to be real people.
GRACE: OK. That`s what an avatar is, like your little mascot, right?
SCHROEDER: Right. Right.
GRACE: All right. So did you say pogo.com?
SCHROEDER: Yes, that`s where Thomas Montgomery started playing his game.
GRACE: What`s that?
SCHROEDER: Huge -- it`s a huge Web site for gamers and it`s a, you know, fun --
GRACE: Gamers. You mean like pogo or something? I mean like poker or something?
SCHROEDER: Yes, you play blackjack, you play a bunch of different games, you play diamond (INAUDIBLE), you know, a lot of fun games in there, specific teen rooms and there are also adult rooms. And when Thomas Montgomery started playing, he claims he inadvertently found himself in a teen chat room and that is where the Talhotblond, aka Jessi, aka, her mother, allegedly contacted him first.
GRACE: OK. Barbara Schroder, you interviewed this guy behind bars. I`m not going to bother, since you are a famous producer. I`m not going to ask you shrink-type questions like why are people playing games online when they could be doing something constructive like working or being with their children? Whatever. That`s a whole another can of worms.
But Barbara, you interviewed the killer behind -- you interviewed him. What -- how did he strike you?
SCHROEDER: Well, and to be perfectly accurate, I actually sent in one of my friends, a guy, because I knew that Thomas Montgomery had issues with women and he had trust issues with women and he liked to lie to women. So I sent in a guy with my questions and he set up a great interview with him and he -- it was kind of like a buddy-buddy interview and he came forth with all kinds of information, including the fact that he was impotent, which was a huge fact in this case, because not only did this teenager --
GRACE: Did you just say impotent?
SCHROEDER: Yes. He admitted --
GRACE: To top it all off?
SCHROEDER: Yes, he admitted to my producer that he was impotent. So this girl restored his virility.
GRACE: OK. Give me -- give me Peter and Kirby right now, Peter Odom and Kirby Clements. Don`t see them. There they are.
P. ODOM: The question, Nancy, you come to me?
P. ODOM: So he was actually using his brain during these conversations.
KIRBY CLEMENTS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: There you go. You know what, he -- a guys goes to talk to a young woman on the Internet, surprise, crime of the century. Go ahead, Nancy, I`m sorry.
GRACE: Actually, you know, you might laugh it off, Kirby, but this ended in the murder of 22-year-old innocent.
GRACE: Welcome back. An online affair ends in murder.
To Jean Casarez, legal correspondent, "In Session." Jean, you didn`t tell me he was impotent.
CASAREZ: Yes. And that legally is important, right, because he is using the brain and there is an intention there to continue this conversation.
You know, there`s something else, too, about this woman that was not charged. The "New York Post" reported from the beginning that she took her camera and took pictures of her daughter in compromising positions when her daughter didn`t know that, even up her skirt and sent that via the Internet. That sounds like a crime to me.
GRACE: That does sound like a crime.
Eleanor Odom, why no crime on that?
E. ODOM: I was wondering about that, Nancy, because that could be an invasion of privacy or surveillance, eavesdropping type of crime. So I`m a little bit shocked that she wasn`t charged with those crimes.
GRACE: I -- to Barbara Schroder, who produced the film on this case, including an interview with the killer, any more bombshells you learned from the interview?
SCHROEDER: Well, in talking -- we actually talked with Mary Shieler after all this happened, and I asked her, you know, how -- what were you thinking, and he was her justification for lying online. She said that she was bored and lonely. She was just looking to have some fun and the reason she kept talking to Montgomery was because she didn`t want him to talk to real teenagers, and do to real teenagers what she didn`t -- you know, she didn`t want him to do. So that`s --
GRACE: OK. So --
SCHROEDER: Incredible excuse.
GRACE: I guess, Barbara, she thinks she is a hero, OK?
SCHROEDER: Well, she`s never -- to this day, she hasn`t apologized to her daughter, she hasn`t apologized to the Barretts. You know, she has not taken responsibility to the point where -- her ex-husband who we interviewed, he himself said, look, I think jail would have been the only thing that would have driven it home to this woman, his ex-wife that she did something wrong.
GRACE: Everyone, let`s stop and remember Army 1st Lieutenant Jared Southworth, 26, Oakland, Illinois, killed, Afghanistan. Bronze Star, Purple Heart, a police officer. Loved baseball, kayaking, his small town church, leaves behind parents, Bob and Kim, brother, Michael, sister, Nikki.
Jared Southworth, American hero.
Thanks to our guests, but especially to you for being with us and a special good night from the New York control room.
Good night, Brett, Liz, Rosie, Dana.
Brett just married.
And happy birthday to North Carolina friend, Vernie, cancer survivor, four children, seven grands, one great.