Wednesday 4 May 2011

A woman is conned by her own husband

Barbara Bentley’s story was featured on Dateline on April 22nd and 23rd. Her book is called The Years of Living Dangerously: A wife is trapped in her husband’s mysterious web of deception.

Barbara Bently’s charming, fascinating, and charismatic late husband presented himself as a retired Navy rear admiral and the descendent of two infamous admirals named Perry. They were VIP guests of the Navy during Fleet Week in San Francisco. He had war medals including the Congressional Medal of Honor. They were invited to President George H.W. Bush’s inauguration and the inaugural balls. The only part of his story that was true was that he was the black sheep son of Admiral Perry, who founded the Seabees during the Second World War. The truth was that he was a con man.

John Perry swept Barbara off her feet. Soon he was living with her and proposed marriage. The groom’s family didn’t attend the wedding in Mexico. Barbara heard lots of family stories, but introductions never took place. John explained his family perceived her to be a “gold digger.” John’s consulting assignments didn’t produce income. The bills piled up. Barbara found herself getting deeper and deeper into debt to fund their lavish lifestyle. He was actually supporting both him and Barbara on her credit cards.

Barbara began to get suspicious: like, "Who are you?" John became emotionally abusive and threatened to leave. There was a near-fatal car wreck while he was at the wheel and she was the passenger and then there was the tumble down the stairs with him directly behind her. Barbara started digging into John’s background. John’s stories gradually lost credibility with her.

Out of the blue, he joined her on a business trip to Indianapolis. He brought along a bottle of ether. He believed he would get double indemnity if she died during a business trip.

The bottle of ether came along on a trip to Washington, D.C. to finalize an employment contract John claimed he had with an admiral. After listening to John’s excuses for days, Barbara lost patience and threatened to go home. In an instant, an ether-soaked wash cloth was covering her face. The couple fought. She got away.
John then threatened to jump off a bridge because he claimed he had cancer.

Barbara called the police. John was arrested and convicted of attempted murder. They uncovered evidence that his medals he claimed were his were medals he bought.

While he was in prison for attempting to kill her, Barbara discovered that under California’s no-fault, community property laws, she was obligated to pay him alimony, half of her retirement benefits, and for his insurance. Needless to say, she was furious.

This creep served only ten months of a five year sentence. That tells you something about the American parole system.

Passion, planning, patience, and persistence fueled her one and a half-year lobbying effort to change the California laws. She is now happily remarried. She’s become a victim’s rights advocate and has a blog.

Her memoir A Dance with the Devil: A True Story of Marriage to a Psychopath was published late last year. It’s gotten rave reviews on Amazon.

After their divorce, John conned another woman into changing her will and funding his extravagant lifestyle. During an argument about finances, he threatened to shoot himself with a shotgun. The next morning, she found him dead of a prescription drug overdose. It is strongly believed that his overdose was accidental. I think he took the drugs so he could fake another heart attack but ended up dying instead.

Barbara’s advice to women walking in her shoes is; “Pay attention to your instincts and do not challenge an abusive person. My advice is; “Walk away from him and stay away from him”.

That is very good advice.

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