An Online Catfishing Love Triangle Leads To Murder

With screen names Talhotblond, Marinesniper and Beefcake, this catfish-murder story has twist after twist after twist. Get ready for a ride. 

By Jaime Lutz

Thomas Montgomery was married and 46 years old when he started pretending he was an 18-year-old marine named “Tommy” with a black belt in karate and a “9 inch dick” on an internet chatroom for teens. As “Tommy,” he fell in love with a 17-year-old girl named Jessi who went by the screen name “Talhotblond.” If you want to see what these people look like, do a Google image search

When his wife found out about the internet-based affair and told Talhotblond the truth about Montgomery’s identity, Jessi instead began flirting with one of Montgomery’s friends on the forum, a 22-year-old co-worker of his named Brian Barrett

So Montgomery killed him. Hear all about it in episode 4 of our Martinis & Murder podcast.

The family man

In 2005, Thomas Montgomery was married with two teenage daughters in a town near Buffalo, New York. He worked in a factory that made power tools, strapping on a set of goggles and then standing at the same machine until deep into the afternoon.

He looked like a typical middle-aged American man: balding with a protruding gut and a thick mustache. He liked playing poker on Fridays with his friends, and lived by habit.

When he first met Tallhotblond on the chatroom, which was hosted on the game site Pogo, he decided to pretend he was 18. He used the screen name “Marinesniper” and said that he was preparing to ship out to Iraq, harkening back to his uneventful time in the military when he was younger.

The relationship

Jessi and Montgomery struck up an online relationship, even regularly talking on the phone and having cyber sex. According to Wired magazine, Jessi sent him photos of herself in a bikini, and once even mailed him one of her g-strings.

Montgomery was swept up in the alternate reality of the situation. He even proposed to Talhotblond, and she said yes.

But in Feb. 2006, Montgomery’s wife discovered the affair, and sent Jessi a recent photo of Marinesniper, telling him the truth about his existence. Horrified, Talhotblond broke off the relationship with Montgomery. 

But she was still unsure, so she asked one of Montgomery’s real-life friends on the chatroom to confirm his identity. This real-life friend was Brian Barrett—Montgomery’s coworker, who went by the screen name Beefcake in the chatroom.

The love triangle

Barrett comforted Jessi, and the two began a flirtation, seemingly partially based around their dislike of Montgomery. Jessi called Montgomery a child predator; Montgomery called Talhotblond a “lying whore.”

But still, sometimes, Tallhotblond and Marinesniper would have friendly, even flirty chats again. 

“In his mind, this was the jackpot,” said Barbara Schroeder, who directed a documentary about the killing. “He was being accepted for being 47, and he still had this hot young girl who wanted him.”

Montgomery began acting erratically at work—even telling coworkers that he wouldn’t “leave shell casings lying around if he were to kill someone.” Finally, in Sept. 2006, he shot Barrett while he was in his car after he had finished a shift at the factory. Police described it as a “sniper-style shooting.”


When police realized what Montgomery had done, they sent an officer to West Virginia to make sure that Talhotblond hadn’t also been killed.

She was perfectly safe. She also happened to be, in reality, a 45-year-old, brunette mother of two who used her daughter’s photographs to flirt with men online.

[Image: The lead image is a stock photo from Getty Images, and is not anyone who was involved in this story]

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