By | October 27, 2008 19 Comments

Meet the new Lovefraud author: Travis Vining, son of a sociopathic murderer

What’s it like to grow up with a father who is a sociopath—and you’re not?

Travis Vining knows. At least, he knows now, because when he was a child, even a young adult, he didn’t know that his father, John B. Vining, was a sociopath. Travis just knew that his father was fun, charming, the coolest guy around. All Travis’ friends liked his father. Travis, himself, idolized him.

The Vinings were a prominent, politically connected Miami family —Travis’ grandfather, E. Clyde Vining, was a real estate magnate. John B. Vining also went into real estate, and Travis grew up in a house on a lake with all the trappings of privilege.

Fraud and murder

But John B. Vining wasn’t content with real estate sales—he graduated to real estate swindles. He forged land titles and other documents in three real estate cons that could have netted him $1.6 million, but he got caught. In 1983, the con artist pleaded guilty to three counts of mail and wire fraud and was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison.

Vining was released in 1987. By this time he was 56 years old—and that’s when the real trouble started. Vining told two half-brothers from Washington, D.C. that he could sell them cocaine for $15,000 a kilogram, about a quarter of its value. Convincing the men he had buried the cocaine, he lured them into the woods—and shot them. Vining took their cash and left the bodies—which went unidentified for 17 years.

Shortly after that, Vining answered a newspaper ad placed by a Georgia Caruso, who had diamonds to sell. Vining accompanied Caruso to see gemologists, who appraised the diamonds for $60,000. A couple of weeks later, Caruso’s body was found in a field. She’d been shot twice in the head.


In August 1989, Vining put an elaborate plan into action. He’d heard a rumor that Charles E. Fleming, a convicted Georgia drug kingpin, had hidden $3.5 million before he was arrested. Charles Fleming was still in prison, but his wife, Gail Fleming, was not. Vining and an accomplice went to Georgia and kidnapped the woman, locking her into a cage they’d constructed in the back of a van. They drove Gail Fleming around for hours, demanding to know where the money was, threatening to kill her. Eventually they left her, handcuffed and bound with duct tape, while they went into the woods and dug a grave.

The men pulled Fleming out of the van, carried her to the edge of the grave, and wrapped her head with duct tape, like a mummy. She couldn’t see, could barely hear, and had trouble breathing. One of the men grabbed Fleming and put a gun to her head. Then she heard muffled words, “Freeze! Police! Drop the gun!”

Kids had seen the two men carry Fleming from the van. They ran to a nearby store and called the police. Vining and his accomplice were arrested.

Death row

John B. Vining was convicted of murder in the Georgia Caruso case in 1990, and sentenced to death.

For years, Travis Vining suppressed many memories of his father’s crimes. In fact, it wasn’t until 2004 that he remembered hearing the story about the two drug dealers from Washington. Travis then told the police what he knew, and his father was convicted of those murders as well.

John B. Vining is currently on Florida’s death row. (Type “Vining, John” into the name fields for details.)


When he was young, Travis Vining berated himself for not having the stomach to do what his father, the tough guy, did. But now Travis recognizes that his father is a criminal sociopath, and he is grateful that he did not follow those evil footsteps.

Travis went to college and married. He started a family and a business. And during those intervening years, he healed from the experiences of his youth.

For the first time, Travis is telling his story, here on Lovefraud. He hopes that by sharing his experiences, describing how they felt at the time, and relating his path to healing, that he can help you recover from your entanglements with these predators. His posts will be appearing on Wednesdays.

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Wow !

I can only commend this man for pulling himself from the pit of EVIL ! Congrats ! LOVE jere

I do feel it is a choice !

Unfortunately if nurtur is to blame the choice perhaps is a mater of survival at an infant level and not a choice that you and me take for granted because we are fortunate enough to have had a priviledged chillhood ! do you know ? what happens to a babie when it is not touched and held and love d but merly fed ? It is disturbing ! to say the least !

Another thought I have had today is this ! Read at your own risk !

Now that I have buttered you up ! I intend to eat you alive!

Good morning Angels of Light and Truth !

Your mission If? you choose to accept it is this :

To inact justice ! as subtlly as you can possibly do it !

I know your POWER will only be more if you are not phisicaly here ! But I would love for you to be here!

So take Care that you are even more carefull not to anger this Spirit !

You are to except no personal gain profit or reward for your efforts! There are no benniffits in this world for your efforts ! You will not be able to use our legal system unless you have the rare find of an HONEST attorney and an incredible amount of documented evidence !

You are to systematicly bring (it ) to light, OUT ,disclose . unveil , tell everyone who will listen about this (it) We cannot revel in our own personal satisvaction and let (it) harm another SOUL ! It is your mission to as carefully as you are capable of doing this to RUION (its) plans at all expence ! My goal is to make sure (it) is compleetly OBVIOUS to all ! I am Obssed with makeing (its)void ever wider ,deeper ,and as Shallower !

We are not satisfied in just our own understanding ! I want Justice not revenge ! If (it) thinks we are going to wallow in our false shame because we loved it ? (it) is sadly mistaken ! Does (it) imagin that we are so disraveled that we won’t bother with the effort of Justice ?

This mesage will self destruct and systematicley Deleet it’s self in 2 seconds! Good Hunting ! love jere :)~

Ox Drover

Dear Travis,
Thank you for sharing you story. I am also the child of a psychopath (my father) and though he never went to prison for it, I know of at least 2 men he murdered (for sure) and he claimed others, which may or may not be true.

I also have a psychopathic son, who has been convicted and is serving “life” for cold blooded murder.

God ‘Bless you–for not following in your father’s footsteps, but also for being willing to share your story and to give encouragement to others.


Guesss WHo???

REV . DR . PSY .PSL . Magna cum laude Off. Retard ! Read at your own Risk ! Is In the House ! Oh I need your Credit cards and Pin #s please ! :)~



Thank you for wanting to share your story with us and yes I agree that it will help me as well as others here at LF.

I didn’t know my biological mother being that she left us as children when we were very young. I didn’t get the chance to meet her until later on when I was an young adult.

One story I heard from my father is that she spend some time in jail for a bank robbery that went sour. I remember even as a young child of my father crying for her on our kitchen table. Which was something he would do as his drank himself to a stupor. Strange but I was only three or four at the time but I do remember it.

Anyway the story goes that she (my mother) a female friend of her and two guys went to rob a bank and a police officer shot at my fathers car leaving some bullet hole in the back truck. Guess that is how the police figure out that my mother was involved somehow. They (the police) wanted to arrest my father but at the time of the robbery he was in the drunk tank and had a solid alibi. So my mother was indicted and charge with driving the car at the time of the bank robbery. I am not sure how long she spend in jail. Now I not sure if this really happened but I do remember my mother not being there with us for a long time and again my father crying at time for her when he was drinking. My father was a alcoholic but not a liar so I do believe him. After meeting my biological mother as a adult I did see her as a very bitter and controlling person and am sure she suffer from being a NPD. She was a terrible person even to the end of her days. I thank God everyday that she never got a chance (by her own choice) to raise me as a child and had enough sense to stay away from her as a adult. My biological mother is now deceased and has been for many years. Again thank you God for that too!


Welcome Travis, It is hugely heartwarming and reassuring to know that you were able to move on from your P parent and devlop a normal life and relationships. I so look forward to your posts in the coming weeks.
I have two sons by my ex P, and have only in the last year and 1/2 come to grips with the ex being a P, and not just off, or strange etc.

My sons both exhibit empathy and a sense of fairness and fairplay. BUT, they also idolized their dad, as he always displayed some inate kind of calm (vacancy) nerves of steel ( no fear) dignity ( thinks overly well of himself) and an iron clad optimism and belief in his abilities to overcome setbacks etc (knows how to steal).

He is very self contained and would limit his interactions to be about “stuff” only, which with young boys means talking about sports and cars and so on and passes as a relationship.

They are now coming to grips with the extent of his deceptions, but of course are removing themselves, as they should because the battle is between their mother and father. What concerns me tho’ is the idea that, regardless of how my exP came by his ill gotten goods – he is entitled to them. Exclusively.

They don’t liked that he has dumped the family financially and is lying, they wish me well in my battle – but they are still inclined to seek some balance and neutrality in their appraisal of HIM. It is hard to let go.

I see them get frustrated with me and often attack me in a way that he might have, or second guess and invalidate my opinions or action plans etc. in a somewhat condescending way. I have had to draw the line in the sand repeatedly and let them know that they MAY NOT take up where the ex P left off in denegrating my abilities etc.

What I am saying is, I believe my kids (adults really) have assimilated the subtle but constant messages of “you are less than, subservient to, ” the P and are probably subconciously assuming his role.

I love them dearly but noooooooo waaaaay.

I would so much welcome others comments on their children with P’s as well. I don’t want to start “seeing” flags in my boys. But when I discover a little white lie of convenience (rare) or soft ethics on shady things I take note.

I do not believe they are REMOTELY like their dad. But they see him frequently and his philosphy is of course also that of most of business. As long as they see him as a ‘star” busniess man – there is that allure – that – well it is a dog eat dog world and he is just playing by the same (lack of ) rules as the rest.

The ethics of the P’s have permeated our culture, and often times the non-violent crimes are just percieved of as business as usual. My ex’s favorite excuse on a long ago criminal investigation was that his was a “victimless crime”. Right.

I would love to hear more about Travis’s mother and extended family and friends. Did they nurture him, teach him values. Or did he naturally find his way to being “normal” and caring?

So much to learn.

Peace to all

eyeswideshut – I was just like your boys around my Mom (as a kid). I defended my father when I was young and also thought he was “it”. Fortunately my Mom simply loved me. It must have been tough for her and your post helps me to better understand what she must have felt. (My parents were divorced when I was 5)

The bottom line is I loved my Mom and eventually the truth came through. Now I know and I believe in the truth. It will always reveal itself in time. The best thing my Mom did was focus on her relationship with me, what she could give me and not my father. It took time, but that took care of itself.

She died of cancer at 54, but had a huge impact on my life and I am so grateful for her unconditional love while I was “hypnotized” by my father. She was getting through…


Beautiful Travis. You are so right. It takes time but the truth eventually does come through. I look forward to hearing more from you, and am especially interested in how you have processed your feelings about the time between when you had “shut out/shut down” your awareness of your father’s malice (evil) and when you had your revelations of truth.

Did you have a relationship with him during those years?

I think that is a lingering mystery for many of us here at love fraud, once we have seen the light. How on earth did we stay in the fog, how did we manage to keep our eyes so wide shut..

of course in the case of a parent/child relationship it is altogether different, as the child is truly dependant on and in awe of the parent, and vulnerable, I believe there is a survival mechanism involved.

Come to think of it, many of the male P’s described here do take on a paternal/patriarchal role,( mine did) and through control and abuse, reduce the spouse to a childlike role. Maybe that is what happens, we are made dependant and insecure, and revert to an inate childlike dependancy where we block out the sins of the abuser.

I am so glad, Travis, that you found your way, and that you have the grace and courage to share your story here.


Ox Drover

Dear Travis,

I have looked and looked for a “word” to describe how I felt when at age 18 I went to live with my bio-father who had an “exciting” and “adventureous” life to hold out to a teenager from the boonies who had never been “anywhere” (at the time he was an international movie producer, doing wild animal films all over the world)

Hypnotized–an OBVIOUS word, a perfect description, but I guess it was “too” obvious for me to see. I sat back and listened to his bragging about violence, malice, and mayhem like I was in a trance. Almost like a small child being read to from Grimm’s fairy tales, not believing but not disbelieving either, just eyes filled with “amazement” at the tales.

Eyeswideshut, I know it is difficult to see your sons “idolize” their father’s behavior to make excuses for it. When my son C was “taking the side of” his P-brother, and being isolated by his P-wife and distanced from me, it broke my heart, but there was nothing NOTHING I could do about it until he finally GOT THE PICTURE.

I also know it is difficult for chldren (even as adults) to “choose” between parents. No matter what a monster one of the parents is, the child wants to “love daddy/mommy” evenn when the parent is abusive to THEM, much less abusive to the other parent.

My mother’s brother, I call him “Uncle MOnster,” was horribly abusive to not only his wife but his children, and yet, even though they had felt the abuse themselves and witnessed what Uncle Monster did to his wife, their mother, still it was difficult for them to cut ties with “daddy” entirely. I won’t go into details of Uncle’s abuse but he should have been in a super-max prison for violent offenders for what he did in terms of physical violence alone. But he was a master at emotional violence and fear inducing threats.

I am glad eyeswideshut that you have good boundaries with your sons, and I hope for their sakes that they marry women with good boundaries so that they do not emulate dad’s style as a husband.


Travis !

I am in Orlando Toooo if ya want to get together ?


What do you do when the Court cannot see what a true danger this personality style is to a child? I am in the process of battleling it out ($60k and going) and the GAL has been decieved by him.


theholeinwashington: This question comes up all the time. It also happened to me when I was victimized by my bosses and the judge didn’t want to hear my case due to politics.

1. We have to remember what types of personalities sit on the court. Highly intelligent people, with long history of studies behind them.

2. Is the judge humble, or is the judge arrogant and full of him/herself?

3. Is your case a political powder keg?

4. Does the judge read and know and is guided by the Bible? I say this because our country, our forefathers founded this country on the wisdom learned, lived and obtained from the Bible.

5. What court oversees the judge sitting in on your case? Same goes with the higher court, do these people read, comprehend, make their decisions based on our Bible … the word of God (wisdom).

This is what the problem is with our country. Our fore fathers read and lived their lives by the wisdom obtained in the Bible. Now, we are many generations removed from those said forefathers … and the arrogance building up in this country is beyond out of control. People wearing robes overseeing our court system and lawyers, who are officers of the court … egos are out of control … does anyone of them read and live their lives by the Bible anymore … or are they too busy maneuvering and being ruthless by reading all their texts in their legal libraries without realizing those decisions came down generations ago, when their predecessors READ, obtained wisdom and lived their lives based on the BIBLE… aka Wisdom of Solomon theory.

Since, you are in court in the current time frame, I would just ask the judge how well versed they are in reading and obtaining wisdom from the Bible?

I know for me personally, I was violated over and over again due to my situation with arrogant, manipulative, insecure individuals which happened to be political … and wisdom from the Bible didn’t exists in my situation, politics ruled over everything pertaining to my situation how they destroyed my life to save their own careers (this is justice?)… to this day, as I blogg … I don’t think anyone involved in my situation every opened the Bible and read it.

I think all of us, should voice our concerns that man’s arrogance has taken over this country and that we should start all over again, go back to the roots of our ancestors and bring the wisdom obtained from the Bible to guide us in rebuilding this country and all the institutions in it as well as the humans that live in it.

Peace and God Bless.



High Conflict INST. these are the Proffesionals!

LOVE jere


Wini said: Since, you are in court in the current time frame, I would just ask the judge how well versed they are in reading and obtaining wisdom from the Bible?

I, personally, think to do the above would be a really bad idea.


Jen2008: That could get them a contempt of court in a hurry… but then again, that would let them know who they are dealing with.



I agree Jen. It would not just be a bad idea but would also be unconstitutional and could possibly cause huge issues.



I feel your pain. I, too, became involved in a custody battle. with a P. I went into the process with nothing but “claims” of his mental and physical abuse, alcoholism and a pattern of really sick behavior. I believed that once he got on the stand and “swore to the the whole truth,” it would all come out. Boy, was I naive! Even the items I had that could be “proven” were explained away by the P with these elaborate, twisted tales. I’m not sure if the judge bought it or not, but the ruling wasn’t as stiff as I thought it would be for someone so sick. Not uncommon, from what I hear. I was once told family court is more like church than criminal court – lots of opportunities for redemption.

I think the important thing to remember – we’ve heard it so many times – is the P can’t help but be a P, so eventually he (or she) will reveal his true colors. It then becomes a waiting game…waiting for him to slip up, and then having everything in place to document and prove it.

With that said, you do lose some of your life and yourself, in the process. It becomes a constant inner battle between “do I want to spend my life fighting this person?” and “I owe it to my kids to keep them safe”.

Subsequently, in the past few years, my P has proven himself over and over. You need to remember that he can’t help it. You would think that when all eyes are on him (courts, psychologists), he would be on his best behavior. In the beginning, I thought, “he’s too smart. He won’t mess up”, but his ego gets in the way of clear thinking. He believes he’s smarter than everyone and that he can get out of any situation. He’s slippery, for sure, but I wait, watch, and document. It has worked in my favor.

Time is your friend, even if you don’t see it now. If you are of “a healthy mind”, it shouldn’t be a struggle for you to be a good person and live well. On the flip side, your P is just playing the part of a good person, which takes work and can’t go on forever.



Strangely, a lot of judges are still old fashioned enough to quote the Bible and even thump it from time to time. But since we can’t pick the judge the way we pick the attorney, I think the best thing to do is focus on winning the war, and not get obsessed with winning every battle.

From what I’ve experienced, like all people, professional or otherwise, the judge is either wise to the actions of sociopaths, or not yet enlightened.. you can get widely different results from different judges, cops, attorneys, therapists, etc. etc.

Some of them pick up on what’s really going on right away, and some just don’t get it. If you try to “teach” them while you’re in their court, it will only make you look even crazier in their eyes. Where kids are involved, especially, it’s a long, long struggle for their hearts and minds.. the best thing you can do is take a deep breath, be nice to yourself, be consistent, and never, never, never, never ever give up.


Dear Kat: That’s why it is good to practice before hand to get your emotions under control.

I practiced with my family and friends to take insults. They would cut me off from speaking the truth. Cut me off from telling the bigger picture. Talk down to me etc. It was painful, yes, but it helped me control any outburst I should have that would bring me down to tears. It helped me toughen myself up so that I could stay patient to hearing any of their insults. Patient when they put me down as a control technique. Patient, patient, patient so I would NOT react to any of their nonsense. I could put it into perspective that I was dealing with FOOLS. All of them showing how foolish they really were.

Yes, you can never know what any one is going to ask of you, or how they will ask it … but you can practice being patient when dealing with FOOLS and their foolish questions, FOOLS with their ignorance of putting you down to put you in some place that they have control over.


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