The Bigamist Bride?
Two weeks later he married her. Finley quickly ran up at least $5,000 worth of purchases on her new husband's checking account, but the big inheritance check never came. A few months later, Wynne, then 21, says he caught his bride messing around with another man and called it quits, at which point he says Finley cashed in his $3,000 DVD collection. Wynne, who was left with bad credit and a broken heart, says, "I felt like the biggest idiot in the world." Finley denies Wynne's version of events but says, "I do have issues, but I'm not a grifter."
But according to interviews with relatives, authorities and several alleged victims, at least 12 servicemen and perhaps as many as 39 (it's hard to know, given Finley's many aliases) have been snookered by Finley's charm and empty promises. Those alleged victims all tell the same story: She maxed out their credit cards, emptied their bank accounts and made off with their pride. Army Criminal Investigation Division spokesman Chris Grey says that the military is looking into Finley's activities but declines to discuss what actions it might take against her.
Jacob Anderson, 35, who became Finley's first husband back in 1993, always thought she would get herself in trouble. "Though she liked cowboys and military men, I thought she would be conning rich men,'' says Anderson, who was a 19-year-old Marine when they met and married. "She could dance and sing like an angel. She would make you feel like you were the only person in the world,'' he recalls. "She'd create this wonderful character like an actor, but it wasn't really her. She wrote bad checks and fooled around on me. But of all the things she knew how to steal, the worst was your heart."
On June 14 the law finally caught up with her. When Finley, 34, tried to skip out of a New Orleans restaurant without paying a $240 tab, authorities found she was wanted. She was extradited to Alabama, where she faces check-fraud charges. "She's preying on our military people," says Montgomery Co. Sheriff D.T. Marshall. "She has no morals whatsoever. She's wanted in several states for a variety of charges."
Finley takes exception with the sheriff's characterization. In phone interviews from the Montgomery County jail, Finley refused to say how many times she's been married, only that it's fewer than 11. She does own up to nomadic habits and an addiction to writing bad checks. She keeps marrying servicemen, she says, to try to give herself the love and security she lacked as a child. "I would look for the type of man that will protect me," Finley says, then adds, "I don't think I know how to love."
Shane Cheesman would agree with that much. "She has no heart," says Cheesman, 35, of Illinois, who believes he became unlucky husband No. 7 in 1998. "The devil himself ain't got nothing on her." Finley's failed relationships have made fathers of nine men, though many of them didn't know that until years later. (Family members took in many of those children.)
Finley now sits in jail awaiting a preliminary hearing on check-fraud charges that include stiffing a cab driver for $105 and a plumber for $800 (she has pled not guilty). And if Katie Wegg has her way, other charges will follow. Wegg-whose son Rodney, an Army reserves medic-was one of Finley's victims, has led a campaign against Finley, talking with a dozen of her husbands and e-mailing several military law-enforcement agencies to urge them to look into the case. "I'm hoping the Feds do something," Katie says, "or else she's going to keep victimizing people."
Sheriff Marshall also says he plans to clue the judge into Finley's long run of cons but admits that even if she's convicted she probably won't spend more than a year behind bars. And maybe not even that, he says with a wry smile, "if she cons the transport driver into handcuffing himself to the steering wheel and releasing her."