Bigamists, sociopaths, and the call for a marriage database

In the United States of America, it is impossible to find out if someone is married.

Donna Layne Roberts, whose ex-husband, William Barber, was married at least 12 times, has drafted an online petition to Congress asking for a national database of marriages and divorces. Sandra Phipps, the seventh wife of bigamist Ed Hicks, supports the marriage database petition, and was interviewed in the Virginian-Pilot newspaper last week about her views.

There are people, however, who think a marriage database is a dumb idea. One of them is Kerry Dougherty, a columnist for the Virginian-Pilot. In an article called A good match can come from real talking, she wrote, “There’s a simple way to avoid marrying a bigamist. Get to know your betrothed before sprinting to the altar.”

Some people who posted comments about the database were even more vicious. “Come on, people! Caveat emptor! Take responsibility for the bad decision, and move on,” wrote Brett C. of Portsmouth. “These people who are conned by the bigamists have no one to blame but themselves,” wrote Debbie O. of Virginia Beach.

Bigamists are sociopaths

None of those commentators appear to understand the problem.

In my opinion, most bigamists are sociopaths. I believe that except for mistakes— a few people who think their divorce is finalized when it’s not—in this culture, only a sociopath marries more than one person at once.

Sociopaths have no conscience and feel no emotional connections to other people. This is what enables them to profess their love and devotion to multiple people at the same time. In reality, they have no love or devotion at all. They just mouth the words in order to convince their targets to give them what they want—usually money, sex and a free place to live.

Professional manipulators

So how do they do it? First of all, sociopaths are experts at sizing up a person’s vulnerabilities. Secondly, they are professional manipulators.

Sociopaths are fluent liars. They sidestep questions and always have a plausible answer when discrepancies are noticed. They create authentic-looking documentation. They imply that other people vouch for them, and actually convince other people to cover for them. They keep people apart so it’s impossible to compare notes.

As a result, it is extremely difficult to spot the deception of a sociopath.

Both Donna Layne Roberts and Sandra Phipps knew their betrotheds for more than two years before marrying them. Donna did a background check. That’s hardly “sprinting to the altar.”

More than bigamy

Bigamy is usually just one aspect of a sociopath’s wrongdoing. These people are predators who engage in a wide range of destructive behavior. If you find a bigamist, you’ll probably also find someone who commits fraud, embezzles money, reneges on child support, doesn’t pay taxes, steals from employers, deals drugs or abuses women—any number of nasty things.

Yet as long as the sociopaths don’t commit murder (although there are plenty who do), this country’s legal and financial systems are woefully inadequate in dealing with them. Most fraud offenses are not prosecuted. And for other offenses, sociopaths frequently talk their way out of trouble.

What is the problem? Our legal and financial systems are based on people following the rules. Sociopaths don’t follow the rules.

A marriage database would at least give people who have been targeted by sociopaths a chance to discover the bigamy. Knowing the true character of the predator, they could avoid the trauma that always follows.

Free and clear

So what’s the problem with a marriage database? It’s difficult to think of this as a privacy issue. In many states a marriage license is already public record. So is a divorce. And since a marriage is a legal contract and a divorce is a legal settlement, in the states where these are not public record, they should be.

The point of a marriage database is to make the public records searchable.

You can’t buy a piece of property without getting a title search to make sure you own the property free and clear. It seems to me that getting married is at least as important as buying property. Why can’t we be sure that our spouse is coming to us free and clear?

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23 Comments on "Bigamists, sociopaths, and the call for a marriage database"

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Silver you said: …. long way to go because the folks that don’t get it feel like its ok to ignore the rights of the victims and the system wants our money just as badly as the SPATH did and nearly for the same reasons.

Guess my outlook is so completely jaded I don’t think there are any good guys out there anymore. Whole industries are based on my distress….

not jaded. experienced. and righfully angry, and hurt.

to be judged by stupid by stupid people is not to be cursed, but freed. sorry, that sounded a little glib, because it doesn’t speak to the real disadvantage of dealing with a corrupt system in denial, but it struck me that your cry from the dark needed to be answered…there is no shame in being duped. that is what evil does: dupes and swindles.

we will learn how to deal with the worst of situations the best we can. as you say, we are right here for you.

Dear Silvermoon,

I hear your frustration! Yes, it is a CRIME but only a few “crimes” now days actually merit, it seems, serious jail time. Our county just sent a woman to prison for 18 months for getting behind the wheel high and drunk, and running her car down a boat ramp into a lake and killing her 3 kids—she pled to “3 counts of endangering a child” DUH! So you want your husband prosecuted for bigamy? Ah, come on, it only wrecked your life, he didn’t really commit a “bad crime” now did he?—I’m suprised they didn’t try to make the dead kids pay for their own prosecution of the mother who killed them. UGH!!!!!! (that’s the sound of me grinding my teeth!)


Thanks one.


de nada ingraine.

You got that!
Them kids should have known better, huh?

It is amazing how society just writes off the responsibility of being there for anyone else.

The most insidious stuff really does happen at the county level.

By popular opinion, he didn’t do anything because it was my fault for going to the alter with him.

Why should the county get involved- that costs money. And good people should not have to pay for what I did that was stupid.

My fault, my burden,. If I ruined my life, its not anybody else’s problem.

Them kids should ha’knowed better than to get in that car by the same logic.

Its enough to make people really angry and anger turns into energy which when applied, can make people go away from their jobs and more. I’m hitting the really hot part of the curve these days…

Schultz was right. Charlie Brown is everyman and everywoman. Lucy, when she takes away the football, is everyone else.

Lucy’s got the ball…..AGAIN…..

One-step, What does that mean, “de nada ingraine?”
Has this anything to do with the Mort DArthur legends?
Graine was a n Irish Queen, but it is spelled Grainne, and pronounced Gronya.
Some Irish spelling is strange, for example, Neeve is spelled Niamh, and Aisling is pronpunced Ashling.
Shinaird is spelled Shiniadh .

Mama gem.XX

I know this is a very old article, but I find it relevant. My ex-husband, the P, was already married when he married me. I always figured this fact had to do with his mormon upbringing, but now that I read this, I’m wondering if it’s a typical sociopathic trait. Were any of your spouse’s bigamists?

By the way, I had NO idea he was already married when he wed me. I found out later that he ducked into the bathroom to call his wife to tell her that he loved her right before we exchanged vows.

And do you think that the fact that I have met so many mormons with sociopathic traits has to do with the many ancestors (often not from a very distant past as my grandfather was a polygamist) who practiced polygamy. Do you think that the men attracted to the mormon church when it started were really just attracted to the idea of many wives and were perhaps socipathic in nature? Do you think that if that many bigamists who used that many women, perhaps their sons could be more likely to be sociopathic? At the very least, do you think my being raised in this culture and the acceptance my family has of polygamy has anything to do with how and why I ended up with a bigamist with ASPD?

Thank you for your thoughts.




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