Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Why Are Smart Women Carried Away by Fakes?

by Michele McPhee

Clark Rockefeller, the kidnapper captured in Baltimore this past Saturday—six days after he snatched his 7-year-old daughter from the ritzy Back Bay enclave during a supervised visit—had no driver’s license.

No Social Security card.

No work history.

No record of education.

No family members to speak of.

In 1994, he did marry a woman (after first falling in love with her identical twin) but he did not file for a marriage license. He spread stories of owning Lear Jets, built a bizarre moat around his New Hampshire home, led neighbors to believe he was a descendant of the Rockefellers—the famed industrialist clan—and he swore he graduated from Yale. All lies.

In the words of one Boston Police law enforcement source, “He’s a ghost.” A broke ghost that lived off of his wife’s lucrative income.

But that did not stop Harvard-educated, high-powered political consultant Sandra Boss from marrying Rockefeller. Or Clark Rock. Or Michael Brown. Or whatever Rockefeller’s real name is. She was married to the man for more than a decade, but, astonishingly, she would never know who her husband and father of their child (who has since reunited with her mother) really was. In fact, Rockefeller took a “substantial amount of money” to relinquish custody of his little girl (pictured above) and even signed off on paperwork to change her name from Reigh Rockefeller to Reigh Boss.

Sandra Boss is not the only smart woman to fall in love with an impostor. Two decades of crime reporting have shown me that women are often willing to clench their eyes shut to the possibility that the man they have fallen in love with is not who he said he was—like whistling in the dark to keep away ghosts. Recent murder trials have shown us that much.

Rachel Entwistle, the beloved teacher from the South Shore, who was shot dead alongside her nine-month-old daughter Lillian Rose, thought she had found a loving husband and doting dad in Neil Entwistle, who was pulling in $10,000 a month as a computer consultant for British intelligence. In fact, Rachel (pictured right) created a Web site to keep family members abreast of the Entwistles' perfect life and signed each message the same way, “Love, the happy family.” Neil Entwistle was in fact a broke, cowardly sex addict who pumped bullets into his baby’s belly and his wife’s head. He was convicted this summer.

Weeks later, in the same courthouse, another so-called loving husband, former WRKO radio talk-show host James Keown, was convicted of killing his wife Julie by spiking her Gatorade with antifreeze. As she died slowly and painfully in their Waltham home, Julie Keown (pictured left) was still convinced her husband was a Harvard Business School student (he forged acceptance letters), a man who was heartbroken over the inexplicable sickness of his wife. In e-mails to friends, Julie wrote about her unending love for James, and even expressed fear that her illness would “mess up” his life.

When sentencing Keown, a judge remarked, "I am truly in the presence of an evil person." Why couldn't intelligent women, in intimate relations with these men, sense something shady beneath the façades? Why are smart women so ready to believe obvious lies? Have we become so focused on advancing our careers that we ignore our personal lives—failing to see the "ghosts," the evil, right before our eyes?


Laura K. Curtis said...

I think there are many reasons this can happen. I've known several women who have been taken in by con artists, though not by killers. It's usually because those con artists recognize some need the woman herself may not see in herself.

In one case, a woman I knew dated, then married, a guy who told her that he had been 1) a reformed drug addict 2) a DEA agent 3) a local cop in a city far away before he moved. He told her he had never gone to college, had barely graduated high school, but was an avid reader. He told her about all the money he used to have before his crazy ex-wife stole it from him.

This guy was, at the time, in his mid-thirties. He had no job. He owned no books, nor did he buy any when he moved in with her. The inconsistencies were so obvious many of us tried to get her to recognize them.

At their wedding, he asked a mutual friend to get him drugs. He figured none of us would rat him out to his new wife.

I can't believe my friend didn't know, at some level, that this was a scam. She decided she wanted marriage, she wanted someone to live with and come home to, more than she wanted to face that. He played on her desire to be needed, her own need for love, and her occasional flirtation with "bad boys."

The guy she married was slime, but he wasn't a killer. I doubt, however, that the mechanism of self-deception is fundamentally different.

Leah said...

I agree....a lot of women have a deep rooted need to have the fairy tale life that we read about as children and when we meet prince charming, nothing can lure us away. I think a lot of women do know that something isn't quite right but as long as the money is coming in, they ignore everything else. And they make excuses for these turds. It isn't until something blatantly ovbious happens, that they can no longer deny they are living in a sham. Unfortunately it is too late for a lot of women when this happens. Frankly, I believe money and a fantastic lifestyle is the one major thing that makes it easy for them to stay.

This reminds me of Debbie Pignitaro who was married to once Dr. Pignatiro. He was indeed a Dr. but he treated her like crap, cheated on her repeatedly, he practiced cosmetic medicine & surgery and he wasn't board certified. He finally killed a woman during breast implant surgery because he didn't have a licensed anesthesiologist working for him, he was doing if himself. Debbie knew all this was illegal but she never left him or did anything to stop him. Infact, not even a nurse, she worked beside him, at his direction, as if she was one. Then the Doc tried to poison her with arsenic. Fortunately she didn't die, but it took years of living in that and nearly losing her own life before she finally divorced him.

I like money myself, but I can make my own.

TxMichelle said...

It isn't just women that are aflicted by this. You see it a lot with men who fall prey to women who lie about their backgrounds, income, life, marriage status etc.
I am not sure why people don't see through this. Especially the very smart ones. It is bewildering that someone with so much common sense loses it when it comes to a certain someone.
I think people are looking for that perfect someone. MOney, career, whatever. It just so happens this type of person is good at making up whatever the victem needs at that time. They are very versitile when it comes to the masks. That is what their real skill is. Sniffing out a weakness and using it.

A. said...

My first thought is that there are many different types of intelligence. Some genuinely brilliant people, are terribly naive by nature.

Also, predators generally know what they are dealing with, and how to play to the strengths and weaknesses of their victims.

And I disagree that it's about money. The achilles heel seems to be about being loved, much more so than wanting riches or fine things.

Jubie said...

I believe as humans, we have a tremendous capacity for self-deception. In many cases, it's predicated upon deep-rooted needs, wants, and desires. There are usually warning signs we choose to ignore because our needs, wants, or desires are being fed, satisfied to some degree. We have divorced our powers of critical, logical thought from our base desires. We are not listening to our gut-level instincts. Or what some call "female intuition". We use words much too frequently when what's truly required is for us to shut-up, listen, and more importantly -WATCH. When a person's words don't match their actions, then you know you're looking at a lie -and a liar. I had to learn the hard way that we can surely victimize ourselves. When we own our parts in the situations we get ourselves into, then the lesson is that much more solidified in our minds and hearts. We learn, we grow, we move on, and hopefully choose to NOT victimize ourselves, or become victims.