“I found out my hus­band had an­other wife – and five fi­ancées”

Mary Turner Thom­son was stunned to dis­cover that she was mar­ried to a bigamist with 13 other chil­dren – but says his de­ceit has made her stronger…

Closer (UK) - - Welcome to Closer - By Poppy Danby

With a dot­ing hus­band and W three beau­ti­ful chil­dren, Mary Turner Thom­son, 53, thought she had the per­fect fam­ily. How­ever, af­ter be­ing mar­ried to her part­ner, Wil­liam Allen Jor­dan, 53, for four years, her world was torn apart when she dis­cov­ered that her hus­band not only had an­other wife, but was also en­gaged to five other women.

And shock­ingly, the Amer­i­can IT worker had also fa­thered at least 13 chil­dren with six dif­fer­ent women – telling them he was work­ing for the in­tel­li­gence ser­vices to ex­plain his fre­quent ab­sences.

DOU­BLE LIFE

Mary, who is the di­rec­tor of a pub­lish­ing com­pany and lives in Ed­in­burgh with her three chil­dren – Robyn, 19, Eilidh, 16, and Zach, 13 – says, “My world shat­tered when I re­alised that Wil­liam had been liv­ing a dou­ble life. Our whole re­la­tion­ship was a lie.

“Wil­liam drained me men­tally, phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally – but he’s never shown any re­morse. Now I want to help women go­ing through sim­i­lar or­deals. Bigamy may seem ex­tra­or­di­nary, but it re­ally could hap­pen to any­one.”

Mary first met Wil­liam in Novem­ber 2000 on a dat­ing web­site. She says, “I was a sin­gle mum with a ninemonth-old baby and was strug­gling to find ro­mance when I re­ceived an email from Wil­liam. Ini­tially, I was wary be­cause he seemed too good to be true, but I be­lieved he was gen­uine and he loved that I had a daugh­ter be­cause he claimed he couldn’t have chil­dren him­self. “We clicked straight away and talked ev­ery day for two weeks be­fore meet­ing up for our first date at Pizza Hut. Wil­liam liked all the same books and films as me and was in­cred­i­bly charm­ing.” Their re­la­tion­ship moved quickly and Wil­liam pro­posed af­ter just two weeks of dat­ing. Mary says, “I turned him down as it felt too soon, but af­ter six months I felt ready and we got en­gaged. Two months later, I fell preg­nant, which was a huge sur­prise as Wil­liam claimed he was in­fer­tile. But we were both so happy. We got mar­ried in Oc­to­ber 2002 and when I had our sec­ond child, in 2005, it felt like our fam­ily was com­plete.” Wil­liam of­ten worked away – say­ing he was an IT spe­cial­ist for the Amer­i­can in­tel­li­gence ser­vices, which made the ex­tra­or­di­nary things he told Mary be­liev­able. Mary says, “Wil­liam was a bril­liant dad and hus­band when he was around. He’d al­ways do the clean­ing and cook­ing and the kids adored him. I never once doubted that he loved me and was com­pletely faith­ful.”

LIV­ING IN FEAR

But un­be­known to Mary, when Wil­liam was away, he wasn’t ac­tu­ally work­ing – he was in fact vis­it­ing his other wife and fi­ancées.

She says, “Wil­liam was very con­vinc­ing so I never felt sus­pi­cious. One time, he told me he was work­ing in Pales­tine for three months – he sent me pho­tos, starved him­self and even wore boots two sizes too small so it looked like he’d been in­jured when he saw me.

“Then, two years af­ter we were mar­ried, he told me he needed to pay off ene­mies who had threat­ened to mur­der and chop up our chil­dren. I was ab­so­lutely ter­ri­fied as I knew his line of work could be so dan­ger­ous. So I sold my flat and gave him £200,000. I was scared that the kids would die if I didn’t hand over the money. I was liv­ing in ut­ter dread and was con­stantly on edge, wait­ing for some­thing ter­ri­ble to hap­pen.”

Mary con­tin­ued to live in fear, un­til Wil­liam’s lies

un­rav­elled in April 2006, when Mary re­ceived a phone call from a woman claim­ing to be “the other Mrs Jor­dan”.

She says, “One of his fi­ancées had called the po­lice when he’d fraud­u­lently used her credit card. The po­lice found him at a lo­cal garage and ar­rested him – and in­side his car they found hid­den wed­ding cer­tifi­cates. He was then ar­rested for bigamy.

“The other wife had been no­ti­fied and she told me that she and my hus­band had been mar­ried for 14 years and had five chil­dren to­gether. I found out that Wil­liam had in­dulged in nu­mer­ous af­fairs over the years and had even fa­thered two chil­dren with her nanny. It meant that we’d all been preg­nant at the same time.

“I couldn’t be­lieve what I was hear­ing. My whole life was a lie – I was shak­ing with anger. Deep down there was so much proof, I knew it all must be true.”

Mary knew her re­la­tion­ship with Wil­liam was over for good.

She says, “I sat our chil­dren down and ex­plained that their daddy was mar­ried to an­other lady and he wasn’t com­ing home. They were dev­as­tated and we spent a long time cry­ing while try­ing to process what had hap­pened.”

From that point on, more of Wil­liam’s lovers came for­ward and the women agreed to tell their sto­ries to the po­lice. Wil­liam was sen­tenced to five years in pri­son for bigamy and fraud in De­cem­ber 2006. He served two and a half years be­fore be­ing de­ported back to Amer­ica.

Mary says, “I was so glad he was out of my life and I never had to see him again. Be­fore the trial I had tried to con­tact him be­cause I wanted an­swers. But I quickly re­alised there was no way I was go­ing to get any truth out of him. He’s a psy­chopath. Wil­liam was very good at find­ing some­one’s weak­ness and us­ing it to his ad­van­tage. I was the per­fect prey – a lonely, sin­gle mum who wanted some­one to love. I never felt an­gry to­wards the other women – they were vic­tims too.”

But Mary says the ex­pe­ri­ence has made her a stronger per­son.

SUR­VIVOR

She says, “At first, it was hard and I’d cry ev­ery day. But af­ter a few months, I pulled my­self to­gether and was de­ter­mined to fo­cus on the fu­ture.

“I’m still in reg­u­lar con­tact with Wil­liam’s other women and we are able to sup­port each other. And even though the kids don’t speak to Wil­liam, all of our chil­dren have met and stay in touch. They’ve han­dled it amaz­ingly well.

“Some of Wil­liam’s lovers feel ashamed and em­bar­rassed about what hap­pened. And while I some­times find it hard to trust peo­ple, I refuse to let it ruin my life. So I wrote a book to show women that they’re not alone – and I re­ceive mes­sages ev­ery day from peo­ple go­ing through the same thing.

“I haven’t had an­other part­ner since Wil­liam, but I’m not in­ter­ested in find­ing love – I’m happy and con­fi­dent enough to be by my­self. Be­ing mar­ried to a bigamist has made me re­alise that I can sur­vive any­thing.”

❛ MY WHOLE LIFE WAS A LIE – I WAS SHAK­ING WITH ANGER ❜

● The Bigamist by Mary Turner Thom­son is out now

Wil­liam pro­posed af­ter just two weeks of dat­ing

Mary thought she had the per­fect hus­band

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