**Disclaimer: This is a tragically true story told from a very honest point of view. This is a story too difficult for Jessica to tell, so you get to hear it secondhand.***
If you don’t remember me (Kristyn, JBlondie’s personal version of Oprah) you can read my first guest post here. Gandhi’s Perspective
There’s nothing worse than seeing your best friend drowning in a pool of her own tears (especially when you are someone who is not good at consoling people). I have an immense amount of empathy, but when it comes to consoling, I’m not the one you want next to you. So, when I had the displeasure of telling my best friend that the man she thought she was going to marry (we’ll get to that later) wasn’t real, I didn’t know what to do.
I’ll start from the beginning…
If you’ve read JBlondie’s blogs you know that if there is one way to describe her when it comes to love, it is that she falls hard and fast. So, when I left her for 6 days to go on vacation and she was dating one guy (who we both knew she was just biding her time with), but arrived home to find her truly smitten with a completely different guy, I really wasn’t shocked… but at the same time, I just don’t get it.
The man she had fallen “in love“ with seemed to like the same strange things she liked (i.e. sloths, fat babies, Vespas etc.). They seemed to have the exact same sense of humor, and he just “got her,” (which not many people do, let’s be honest). From what I could tell, he appreciated and truly cared for the chaotic, random world that is Jessica. To her, this seemed like her prayers had been answered… but to me (the perpetual skeptic) Peter James Turner seemed too good to be true. So, my obvious question was, what’s the catch…?
Well, Pete was in the National Guard deployed in Afghanistan, and he wouldn’t return until October. The only way Jessica could talk to him was via video chat, but Pete’s computer camera broke right when they began talking. So, he could see her, but she had to talk to a fuzzy, very difficult to make out a face, screen. Jessica did seem frustrated at times with not being able to see Pete, but he sent her plenty of pictures, so that (and the sound of his voice) is what she concentrated on.
Jessica talked nonstop to Pete for HOURS on one-sided video and the second they ended their video chats, they would be emailing each other (I’m talking 2-page single spaced emails). I think they talked more to each other in 4 months than I have ever talked to anyone, including my own mother. The strange, random things that they talked about made me wish that Pete was everything he said he was and everything Jessica believed him to be. But, unlike Jessica, I just couldn’t believe someone that I had never met.
I kept most of my negative thoughts to myself because I knew Jessica would just stop telling me about Pete if I wasn’t supportive, but when she started talking seriously about eloping when she picked him up at the airport in Georgia after he arrived home from Afghanistan… I told her I refused to be a part of that insanity. So, as I began to get more worried about her judgment, she began to hold up in her room and forget the rest of the world. Her world was Pete and she didn’t need anything else but her dreams for the future and his voice.
After talking for 2 months, Pete sent Jessica a package in the mail. The package had a return address in Saginaw, Michigan, which was where Pete said he was from. He said that he had sent it to his sister first so she could wrap Jessica’s gifts, which explained the Michigan address (hmm).
However, she was never allowed to send Pete a package. He claimed that his friend died in his arms during his first deployment and every time he received mail it brought him back to the day his friend had been shot. I even tried to get Pete’s “friend” to give me the address, so I could send him cookies (there is not a single person in the army that would refuse homemade cookies). But after his “friend” wouldn’t send the address either, I started to get really suspicious.
Of course the package had the opposite effect on Jessica. It just pulled her deeper into the “World of Pete.” When I did see her, she was always smiling, and she carried her computer around like it was a person. She was the happiest I had ever seen her, which was so refreshing. My best friend was convinced she had found her person and deep down I wanted her to be right. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see their best friend deliriously happy? But in my experience… all good things come to an end and when something is too good to be true, it probably is.
And Unfortunately, I was right.
I was sitting by the pool one Saturday morning when I received a text from Jessica. Apparently my coworker had asked Jess about a picture she had posted on Facebook of Pete. My coworker said Pete’s face looked identical to someone her daughter knew. Jessica obviously told her it was a coincidence and to leave her alone. But when my coworker gave me the name of the person she was thinking of and I started doing a little research, the truth came out.
I never have and never will know how to break devastating news to anyone, especially someone close to me. So, I did what I thought would be the best way for Jessica to find out that the man she had been sharing every detail about her life and who she thought she was going to marry was a complete liar… I emailed her. I thought, if it were me, I would NOT want someone with me when I discovered this truth. So, I sent her a profile link of the man whose pictures Pete had stolen (there were 64 pictures in all). I gave her an hour to process everything, which was when I came home to Jessica in the middle of a panic attack.
I worked with her for hours trying to figure out the truth, even though I had already tried to figure everything out on my own. There just wasn’t enough evidence, we had never seen his face clearly or knew his real name. The only thing we knew for sure is that he lives either in or somewhere very close to Saginaw, MI. After Jessica confronted Fake Pete, he refused to talk to her on the Skype, but claimed everything was true except his name and pictures. He also still claimed to be in Afghanistan, which was the worst lie of all.
After about an hour of Jessica begging him for answers, he disappeared. His email was gone, his Facebook was gone and all the other emails of people he was also pretending to be were also gone. He was actually pretending to be “Pete,” his “sister,” his best friend in the army and a gay guy that he said was in the army with him. So, he was playing the role of 5 COMPLETELY different people and changing his sentence structures and grammar to make it seem like he was someone different. He made up so many elaborate stories about the military and promotions that he received, stories of how sad he was and how alone he felt… I hope that you are out there reading this, Fake Pete, and you get the help you need.
Two days after he disappeared, he emailed Jessica from a different email address and told her the “real story.” He gave her his “real” name and told her where he lived and worked. He said he was in the process of getting kicked out of the military because he was suffering from severe PTSD and was going to a psych hospital to get help. At first, Jessica believed what he was saying because to her that made sense. She desperately wanted to trust the man she had given her heart to.
However, she at least learned from the situation and decided to check his facts…
After a 30 minute conversation with the parents of the man he claimed to be, she found out everything he said the second time was ALSO an elaborate lie. Once she confronted him about it, he disappeared again, and never returned. The kicker came 2 days later… He had ordered Jessica’s “wedding dress” that they picked out together, and it must have been shipped before she found out he was a liar. The irony.
We tried finding out who he really was based on some other information we knew, but nothing ever led anywhere. I wish we could have found out who he was not only so Jessica could have closure, but also so I don’t have to continuously be afraid he’s going to come kidnap or murder us one day. Most importantly though, probably the reason I agreed to write this post for Jessica, is to create awareness. If this can happen to an intelligent, successful woman who is just simply looking for love, it can happen to you.
I don’t know what Fake Pete’s real name is (but he knows mine).
I don’t know who he is or where he lives (but he knows what I look like and where I live).
I don’t know why anyone would think that it was acceptable behavior to Catfish someone (it’s not OK).
I don’t know if Jessica will ever be able to let “Pete” go.
I don’t know if Jessica will ever be the same.
But, here’s what I do know…
I know that a man who pretended to be someone else ruined my best friend’s life in 4 months. He made her feel safe and comfortable, while he lied to her every day.
I know that no one should have to experience this situation.
I know that my best friend isn’t the same person she was 4 months ago (and may never be the same again).
And most importantly, I know that people can’t be trusted (and I hope Jess figured that out as well).
The repercussions of what that man (or woman) did to Jessica are going to forever affect her and the choices she makes in life.
Jessica is a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I hope she still believes that because it may be the only thing that gets her through this situation.