Deception and betrayal at the hands of a charming psychopath are common themes in lurid TV dramas.
But Mary Turner Thomson has suffered a real-life ordeal that even the most imaginative scriptwriters would find hard to invent.
When the Scottish single mother met Will Jordan, he seemed the perfect man – stable, loving and kind.
Mary Turner Thomson, 55, (pictured) from Edinburgh, married and bore two children to a man only to discover he was a bigamist conman with another wife and five fiancées
But after marrying him and bearing his two children, she was horrified to discover he was a bigamist conman with another wife, five fiancées and several other families.
After Jordan scammed her out of hundreds of thousands of pounds, he was jailed and deported from Scotland to the US, where he continued to prey on vulnerable women.
In the next mind-boggling chapter of her extraordinary story, Mary teamed up with another of her ex-husband’s victim to launch a daring undercover sting operation that delivered Jordan into the hands of the police.
Now her hell at the hands of an unscrupulous predator has informed her tell-all book, The Psychopath, which comes out on Monday.
In it, she explores how caring and empathic women are tricked by psychopaths like Jordan and delves into the methods these devious men use to ensnare their victims.
And yesterday, Mary delivered a blistering attack on her former husband and other men like him.
‘The man whom I’d pledged to “have and to hold” turned out to be a monster who not only impregnated women to rip them off for money, but psychologically tortured and abused women all his life – mentally, emotionally and financially crippling them just for his own amusement,’ said Mary, 55, from Edinburgh.
Her nightmare began like a romantic dream when she met Jordan online in 2000 when they were both 35.
A single mother with a one-year-old daughter and recovering from a failed relationship, Mary hoped to find love with a caring man. Handsome, confident, and smooth-talking, American Will Jordan seemed ideal.
The Scottish single mother met American Will Jordan online in 2000 when they were both 35 (pictured on their wedding day in 2002)
‘He used the kind of techniques that cult leaders and abusers use, showering me with love right from the very beginning, before I’d even met him,’ Mary said.
‘When we started talking online, he sent me long, flowing emails about his past and about the person he was, and I told him my dreams and aspirations. We wrote three, four, five times a day. It became intoxicating. I was swept away by the romance of it.’
Even then, Jordan used a technique called gaslighting to unbalance Mary and make her question reality.
‘He’d stood me up when we were supposed to be going to London on a romantic trip and I met him furious and determined to dump him. It was Christmas Eve and he presented me with a teddy bear wearing a ribbon with a diamond ring. It completely threw me.’
As well as charm, Jordan also lied shamelessly to gain her sympathy, claiming he had mumps as a child and was infertile.
‘It felt good to have a man talk to me so openly about his feelings. His infertility made him that much more of a suitable prospect as I already had a child and wanted a father figure in her life. It was all easy - and it was all totally insincere.’
The couple married in 2002 and later had two children, Eilidh and Zach.
Meanwhile, Jordan convinced Mary he worked for the CIA in IT, as a cover for why he was absent so often – to see his other family, as it turned out – and that dangerous men were out to kidnap their children.
‘It sounds farfetched, but he gave me proof, including pay checks. I was in a constant state of panic and believed he was the only person who could keep us safe.’
Four years into what Mary assumed was a happy marriage, a phone call turned her life upside down.
A woman rang and introduced herself as her husband’s other wife – and revealed she had had five children with him.
‘My external world shattered as my mind inside crumbled. At that moment I couldn’t imagine how anything would ever be all right again,’ added Mary.
Shocked by her husband’s double life, Mary was appalled to discover she had also fallen victim to a callous financial scam.
Jordan had forged her name on several credit cards, running up debts of £56,000.
Mary had a one-year-old daughter and recovering from a failed relationship. The couple married in 2002 and later had two children, Eilidh and Zach (pictured)
He had also persuaded her to sell her home - apparently to pay a ransom to prevent dangerous men associated with his CIA work from kidnapping their children.
She was left penniless - and with crippling debts.
As the truth sunk in, Mary was driven to find out more about his shady life - and uncovered a past littered with abandoned and deceived women and children.
‘He’d been telling me outright lies. Not only did he already have at least six children when I met him in 2000, but both his wife and his wife’s nanny were pregnant by him at the time.
'I also discovered he was a convicted sex offender and that he had five fiancées, us two wives, and 13 children.
‘When Will Jordan found out I had met his other wife in April 2006, he showed no remorse or guilt whatsoever. He never apologised or took responsibility but continued to say all would be explained in time.
'He asked me to have faith in him. This time it wasn’t working. His spell over me had been broken.’
In November 2006, Jordan admitted bigamy, obtaining funds by deception, failing to register as a sex offender and possession of a stun gun.
Now Mary's hell at the hands of an unscrupulous predator has informed her tell-all book, The Psychopath, which comes out on Monday
‘I knew then that he was a psychopath – he looked bored in court, as if he was getting a parking fine, and when he was sentenced there wasn’t a flicker of emotion.
His eyes were dead,’ said Mary, who went on to write about her ordeal in her first book, The Bigamist.
After two and a half years in a British prison, Jordan was released and deported back to New Jersey in 2009. But only seven months later Mary was contacted by other victims.
One woman had been left pregnant and homeless after meeting Jordan on a dating site, another was a Mexican woman with a Down’s Syndrome sister whose family he had ruined financially.
‘He cynically used a photograph of the sister with Down’s Syndrome to play on the sympathy of his next victim, saying he was looking after his girlfriend’s daughter,’ Mary added.
The chance to ensnare him came in 2014 when 36-year-old American nurse Mischele Lewis got in touch with Mary.
‘Like me, she was a single mother who had been in an unhappy situation before meeting a man who seemed to be Mr Right. Like me, she got engaged to him, lost money to him and then found out the truth.’
The two women came up with a daring plan for Mischele to secretly record Jordan with a hidden camera worn as a button until he confessed to conning her out of money. Waiting police arrested him, and he was jailed.
But on his release in 2017, Jordan continued to target vulnerable women. Mary realised the best way to stop him was to write a book, drawing from her own experiences and teaching women how to spot the tell-tale signs of a predator like Jordan.
Mary’s children, Robyn, now 22, Eilidh, 19, and Zach, 15, (pictured) have come to terms with Jordan’s behaviour
‘I thought there must have been something wrong with me to make me a target, but I found out that I score highly on the empathy scale, and Will Jordan homes in on women who are empathic, testing them out early on to see if they feel sorry for his sob stories about a terrible childhood.
‘These women tend to work in caring professions and are mostly single mothers, who are sleep-deprived so they’re not thinking straight and are less likely to chase him down as they’re tied to the house.
'He presents himself as being the kind of stable and caring man they need and has children with them to create a bond that’s difficult to break.
‘I used to blame myself for being taken in by him, but I came to realise that the reason women like me are so trusting is that as empaths we would never do anything so awful to anyone else – it just doesn’t enter our thought processes.’
She said all of his victims told similar stories: ‘Love-bombing, lies, deception, gaslighting and fraud: he repeats his patterns over, and over again.
‘It was what he did to me – he love-bombed me at first. He’d look deep into my eyes and make me feel loved as I’d never been loved before.
‘The bubble burst when I found out he had another wife and was a convicted sex offender.
'Nothing of the man I used to love remained – the man he had pretended to be was a fiction. It was like being in love with Captain Jack Sparrow, not Johnny Depp.
The chance to ensnare him came in 2014 when 36-year-old American nurse Mischele Lewis got in touch with Mary (Mischele and Jordan, pictured)
'With that knowledge, my love for him evaporated like a dream, leaving only the realisation of the monster he truly was.’
Mary’s children, Robyn, now 22, Eilidh, 19, and Zach, 15, have come to terms with Jordan’s behaviour.
‘I sat them down when it all came out and made sure they knew it wasn’t their fault, that he was just made that way. It was hard for them, but they accepted it,’ Mary said.
In the last year, she has been contacted by several women alleging Jordan has seduced and scammed them – the most recent a 19-year-old who was eight months pregnant with his child.
‘At the last count he had 14 children that I know. Will Jordan’s never going to stop. He’s a psychopath with no capacity for love and no conscience.
'He’s a predator and putting him in prison doesn’t work – you might as well put a cat in a cage and tell it not to hunt when you let it out.
'The difference is he knows what he is doing is wrong. All I can do now is warn other women about him and people like him.’The Psychopath by Mary Turner Thomson is published tomorrow, Monday 1 March, by Little A.