It’s an old story. Girl meets guy (or guy meets girl) through an on-line dating service, exchanges e-mails with him, meets him in person, swoons — and finds out that she’s one of dozens of other women across the country being courted by her man.
In Kathryn Martin’s case, however, she’s not skulking away in shame. She’s created a website, www.ceocowboyexposed.com, that includes photographs of Sam Martin III of Martin, Ky., the man she wed last May after a brief romance. The website, named for Martin’s username on various on-line dating services and e-mail accounts, also includes the profile he commonly posts on the websites — many of them Christian — and their marriage license, to erase any doubt by the women she’s been contacting for the past three weeks that he is married.
Kathryn Martin, who goes by Kat, has filed for divorce — though process servers haven’t been able to find her husband to serve him. But she wants more: To warn the many other women she says have fallen for Sam Martin’s charms.
“I see God’s hand in all this,” Kat said. “I felt a great peace about him [when she realized it]. It hit me — this is why you married him: To expose him.
“He’s got to be stopped.”
Kat, a single mother and the assistant to the president and chief counsel for Remington College, met Sam Martin on an on-line dating service, Christianmingle.com, in April 2004. She was attracted to his profile because he wrote about his faith in Christ and his work helping build a Baptist church in Allen, Ky. They began to e-mail and he sent her photographs of himself and his daughter from a previous marriage. He soon visited Kat in Little Rock.
“He swept me right off my feet,” she said. “He was the answer to every dream.” He was 6 foot 1, had “gorgeous brown eyes” and was charismatic. He also had a toupee, “but I let that go.”
On May 29, they were married in Hot Springs. Their plan was for him to move to Little Rock as soon as he finished building the church and took care of other business. They saw each other on weekends. She turned down a job to relocate with Remington to Florida so she could build a life with Martin.
There were warning signs, but because of his charm, Kat — and apparently many other women — found ways to ignore them.
Kat first became suspicious at Christmas, when she and her 15-year-old son traveled to Kentucky to spend the holidays with Martin and his family. During their time there, Martin and his father took lots of digital pictures, and Martin’s father gave Kat a disc to take home. Later, when she couldn’t find the disc, she decided to see if her husband had downloaded it, and used his computer. On it she found a folder titled “Christmas 2004,” and in it were pictures taken over the holiday — but none including her or her son. Instead, they were pictures of Martin alone and Martin with his daughter and Martin with his daughter and niece, and there was something funny about the detailed titles he’d given them — as if they were to be sent to other people. Where were the pictures of her? These new pictures resembled the ones Martin had sent her just after they’d met on christianmingle.com.
Her suspicions were aroused, but she tamped them down in mid-January when Martin’s father died, and Kat returned to Kentucky. On that visit, she came across a Christmas card sent to her husband from “someone named Karen”; it included a gift certificate for a night in a motel.
Still, Kat found a way to justify the card, telling herself it could have been sent by an old girlfriend. “When we were together he was so wonderful to me I’d think, ‘He’s not cheating on me.’ ”
But three weeks ago, on March 14, Kat got a phone call from a family member who told her that Sam Martin was a fraud. “I cried my eyes out,” Kat said.
Then she dried her eyes and decided to check up on Martin herself. She got her husband’s cell phone records and found the names of 57 women on a list of his most recent calls. She began dialing, and within days found 15 women who said they’d been having affairs with him since his marriage to Kat. He’d proposed to some of them.
Bobby Rowe, Sam Martin’s attorney and brother-in-law, said Martin was unreachable by phone during weekdays. At any rate, he said he would advise him not to answer questions by the press.
Because so many more people are courting on-line, the number of cases of divorce that involve a cyber relationship is increasing. Kat Martin’s lawyer, Edward Oglesby, says however that he’s “never had one as far-reaching as this one.” Most common, he and other lawyers confirmed, are marriages broken up by a cyber relationship entered into by one spouse.
Carrol Ann Hicks, a North Little Rock lawyer who handles divorces, has represented two women brought (at two separate times) to Little Rock by a man who falsely represented himself online as wealthy. If someone’s induced to marry by false claims of wealth or other lies, a spouse would likely be able to annul the marriage, Hicks said.
Hicks handles about a dozen divorces a year in which an Internet love affair was a factor. But, she pointed out, “the same thing happens in bars and in churches.” The Internet, she said, is just more noticeable.
One of the women Kat turned up was Misty Schoff of Melbourne, Fla.
Like Kat, Schoff is a single parent of a teen-ager, which means that she needed to stay put and wasn’t free to move right in with someone. (Other similarities: Both women are Christian and there’s a little money in their families.)
The Sam Martin III Schoff knew — she met him on match.com in August 2003 — lived in a house in Cape Coral, Fla. (She visited him there.) He was a motivational speaker, a financial adviser, owned a construction company and told her, she said, that he was “a man of God.” The minute he met Misty in person, he said he was “head over heels” in love and talked of marriage instantly. In October that year, he flew her to Lexington, Ky., to meet his parents. They then traveled to the town of Martin in eastern Kentucky to meet his grandmother, and continued to Gatlinburg, Tenn., where they were to be married.
“Oddly enough, the night before we were to be married, his back went out,” Schoff said, and he called off the ceremony. As Martin drove Schoff to the airport to catch a plane back to Florida, he told her he’d been diagnosed with leukemia and that he’d be traveling frequently to Chicago for chemotherapy.
In November, Schoff, then 40, found out she was pregnant. She would not consider abortion, but she was miserable; “I was pregnant and in love with a man dying of cancer.” He also was a man who would spend three days with her and then leave on business or for cancer treatment, a man whose behavior, she said, was getting increasingly bizarre.
Early in 2004, Schoff said she got a phone call from Martin’s 23-year-old daughter, April Martin. April told her that Martin was “not the man you think he is,” Schoff recalled. He was a cheat and a phony, she said. To prove it, she gave Schoff her father’s username — CEOcowboy — and told her to check him on MSN Messenger, an information sharing site.
Like Kat, Schoff followed up her call from April with her own investigation. She created a phony profile on MSN Messenger and was soon hearing from CEOcowboy. When she confronted him with the fact, he told her he “had a problem” and needed her help.
Later, Martin’s own mother confirmed Schoff’s suspicion that her fiance was cheating on her. They all do, Martin’s mother added.
By March 2004, the relationship had fallen apart, and he abandoned her, leaving behind a note saying he was “doing this for us.” Schoff delivered a baby girl July 16. While Kat and Sam Martin were celebrating Christmas in Kentucky, a child support enforcement lawyer from Florida was contacting the Fayette County sheriff’s office to issue a summons to prove that Martin is the father of Misty Schoff’s baby.
The dozen women Kat now regularly converses with include another Florida woman, who says she was bilked out of $100,000 and a new four-door Dodge Ram truck; a teacher in Indiana; a woman in Dallas who said he proposed but backed out when she insisted on a pre-nuptial agreement; a policewoman in Georgia, and a woman in Springdale.
The Springdale woman — who asked that her name be withheld — also met Martin through Christianmingle.com, just after Christmas.
“He was sending me pictures of him and telling me how rich he was. He asked, ‘What’s your biggest dream?’ ” she said. She told him that it was to produce an album of her music and buy a horse farm in Montana. He responded that he, too, was a songwriter and, coincidentally, he was buying a ranch in Montana — for cash.
The Springdale woman — who never met Martin in person — was skeptical. She told him several times that she suspected he was married. “He lied to me three times. He said, ‘No, I’m not,’ and then fussed at me.”
Martin — using CEOcowboy again in his e-mail address — e-mailed various pictures of himself to the Springdale woman. In one of them, he’s standing next to a brand new Dodge Ram truck.
The Florida woman says the truck is hers. Kat took the photograph on a visit to Kentucky.
When Kat called the Springdale woman recently and told her she was Martin’s wife, “I went ‘oh, no, no’ for about 10 minutes.”
Kat, Schoff and the Florida woman who asked that her name not be used, were on a three-way conference call with a reporter last week. They insisted that, though they could see how one might think otherwise, they are not stupid women. In retrospect, Martin gave off plenty of signals that something was not right. He bought dozens of guns — but told Kat and the Florida woman that he was buying them to sell. He never stayed long when he was with them. But there was something about the man that made them suspend their good sense. As lawyer Carrol Ann Hicks said, people hear what they want to hear.
On her website, Kat writes, “While married to me, he has asked several other women to marry him. Has he had you looking for a ‘home’ for the both of you where you live? Has he told you he was working at the Pine Bluff (AR) arsenal? How about in the mines of Kentucky? Or the 7,000+ square-foot-house he is building in the mountains of Kentucky? Has he sent you songs, more specifically ‘MY FRIEND,’ that he wants played at your wedding? I know, because I played it at ours.”
She said search engines like google.com will soon begin bringing up ceocowboyexposed.com whenever anyone searches for the name Sam Martin.
In the last three weeks, Kathryn Martin has found evidence that she is Martin’s fifth wife. She wonders if he’s married to someone else also.
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