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[whitespace] Rings and Gun

Your Murderous, Cheating Heart

Author offers 10 hints to find out if your man is a con artist

By Will Harper

BRENDA GUNN doesn't sound like a sucker who'd fall for a loser with a nasty homicidal streak. But she did.

A nurse who graduated from Kansas City Medical and Dental College, Gunn met her husband, a 37-year-old construction worker, after he crashed into the back of her car. Their courtship lasted around a year before they got married.

Then things got weird. Husband Glen would leave the house at odd hours. Brenda started to suspect he was having an affair and confided her fears to her best friend, who told Brenda not to worry.

Not too long after that, her house went up in flames while she was home alone. She barely got out alive. Later, she got incredibly sick after eating a meal Glen cooked for her.

Then came the epiphany: Late one evening she picked up her phone and overheard Glen plotting to murder someone with a large insurance policy. The "someone" turned out to be Brenda. And Glen's co-conspirator turned out to be Brenda's best friend.

Brenda's story is told in the new book Deadly Deception: A True Story of Duplicity, Greed, Dangerous Passions and One Woman's Courage.

Using Gunn's story as a cautionary tale, co-author Shannon Richardson is traveling the country pitching her "Ten Things You Should Do Before You Marry Mr. Wonderful."

Richardson, a former deputy in Dallas, says that practically all women, no matter how sophisticated, can be blinded by love and hook up with a wacko. Richardson, who boasts a 22-year marriage that has produced three kids, admits that she herself nearly fell for a felon during the Vietnam War. Her beau at the time somehow managed to avoid being drafted into the military, which aroused the suspicion of Richardson's mother. When Richardson talked to a mutual friend, she learned that her boyfriend had been convicted of grand theft.

"Most women are naive," Richardson says, "and that may be OK if you're going to buy a car. The worst that can happen if you get stiffed is you keep it two to three years and you sell it. But with marriage it's not OK to be naive. The stakes are too high and it's the rest of your life."

So, here are a few of the things Richardson suggests doing before you find yourself living with a Ted Bundy protégé:

  • Talk to his siblings and cousins. They're more likely to dish than the parents are about past affairs, trips to the hoosegow or drug rehab.

  • Check out his finances. The county recorder will show if he owes the IRS money or there are any liens against his property. If he's in debt, he might be looking for a sugar mama.

  • Follow him around for a couple of days to make sure he isn't already cheating.

  • If he's been married before, talk to his ex-wife and examine the divorce court records. "Ex-girlfriends and ex-wives can be your friend," Richardson advises. "Set aside your jealousy."

  • Go to the courthouse or call a bail bond agent and see if he has a criminal record.

  • Read his diary. "For the sake of self-preservation," Richardson reasons, "it's OK."

  • If you don't have the time but have the money, hire a private detective.

    Richardson acknowledges that these aren't the standard wedding preparations found in Bride magazine. But her motto is, "Love life enough to check out your love life."

    She says she even encourages women to be up front with male companions about their investigative activities (except maybe the "read his diary" thing). All these gals are doing is verifying that their dreamboat is who he says he is.

    "Checking your man's past is not deceitful or cold-blooded," Richardson argues. "It's honest, frees you to accept unlimited passion, and is the smart thing to do."

    If Brenda Gunn had done her homework, she probably would never have married Glen Brumbaugh and put her life in danger.

    Then again, if Brenda had never married Glen, Shannon wouldn't have a book.

    Shannon Richardson will appear in San Jose on Dec. 5, 7:30pm, at the Pearl Avenue Branch Library and on Dec. 19, 9pm, at the Rosegarden Branch Library.

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  • From the November 23-29, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

    Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

    For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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