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10 Unbelievable Stories Of Married People With Secret Families

by Alan Smithee
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Imagine the shock of finding out that your significant other is not only unfaithful but has been living a double life. To make matters worse, they have a different name, a second wife, kids, a house, and a pet dog that you never knew about. Unless you’re in Vegas, most people walk to the altar thinking they know their true love well. But there have been countless stories of people finding out that their loved ones aren’t who they thought they were.

How do these people pull it off? Why would someone do such a thing? What leads to the truth coming out? The following shows that not everyone takes their marriage vows to heart.

10 King Edward IV’s Alleged Secret Marriages And Children

Photo credit: Wikimedia

King Edward IV is remembered for many things but for mostly his role in the Wars of the Roses. And his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville. But there have been many theories that allege that he secretly married another woman before his secret marriage to Woodville.

Historian John Ashdown-Hill was researching King Richard III in the 1990s when he came upon Edward IV’s bigamy. In his book The Private Life of Edward IV, Hill writes that Edward IV secretly married a lady named Eleanor Talbot before his marriage to Woodville. The marriage was acknowledged in an act of parliament in 1484.

Some historians have questioned Eleanor’s existence due to lack of evidence. There’s a similar lack of proof of Edward IV’s other alleged first wife, Elizabeth Lucy. Hill notes that he came upon evidence that clearly shows that Elizabeth Lucy was actually Eleanor Talbot. A picture emerged corroborating their relationship. Edward also gave her land and sent presents to his father-in-law up to her death.[1]

Hill also notes that the Thomas More’s version of history was an attempt by Henry VII to erase Eleanor’s name from the history books. Henry VII initiated the allegation that Richard III (Edward IV’s younger brother and successor) was a usurper when, in fact, he was offered the throne because of Edward VI’s bigamy. This made Edward IV’s children with Elizabeth Woodville illegitimate.

Thus, Elizabeth’s marriage to Edward IV has always been questioned. There are also suggestions that Edward IV had same-sex relationships, multiple mistresses, and illegitimate children. It’s a shame he never wrote a tell-all book, which surely would’ve given Game of Thrones a run for its money.

9 Priest Found Guilty Of Bigamy

Photo credit: Melissa Adams

The last person you’d expect to be living a double life is a priest. How could someone who officiates weddings and listens to couples say the sacred vows do such a thing? Yet, a former priest in Australia pulled just such a deception.

Alec Stevenson, originally from New Zealand, married his first wife in 1962. He walked out on her and their three children and moved to Australia to start a new life. The pair never divorced. Stevenson did, however, get divorced from his second wife, whom he married in 1974. Then, in 2002, he married his third wife. He never told any of the women that he was still married and had children.

During his trial in Canberra in 2014, the court learned that he became a priest after he moved to Australia. He performed several weddings as part of the Liberal Catholic Church, which does not enforce celibacy.[2] He even gave two of his daughters from different mothers exactly the same name.

Stevenson, who represented himself, argued that his actions were an honest or reasonable mistake. According to him, he’s legally a bachelor. The prosecution told the court that the absence of any divorce papers or proceedings should have alerted Stevenson to the contrary.

Magistrate Beth Campbell ruled that Stevenson “deliberately obfuscated the court” and found him guilty of two counts of bigamy. He later got a suspended jail sentence.

8 Serial Bigamist’s Dr. Phil Appearance Saves Another Victim

While watching an episode of Dr. Phil where two women claimed to be married to Ed Hicks, Linda cried out, “My God! That man is dating my sister!” It turned out that Ed was a notorious bigamist who had seven wives at that point. She recognized him when they showed his picture.

Linda immediately called her sister Barbra, who, ironically, was sitting next to Ed when she got the call. With Dr. Phil airing an hour later in her neighborhood, Barbra watched the episode when Ed went out. “I sat there and watched it, and I was so upset that I think I cried just about the whole time,” said Barbara.[3] She couldn’t believe the women on the show were saying that they were married to her boyfriend. Unsurprisingly, Ed had asked her to marry him a week before that.

Barbara immediately called her sister back, and they set Ed up with the authorities. The sisters later appeared on Dr. Phil with his other “wives” to tell their story. They noted that Ed was arrested on bigamy charges and was later sentenced.

7 Almost Married To A Serial Bigamist

Photo credit: Mischele Lewis

Mischele Lewis met an Englishman named Liam Allen who was apparently stationed in the US while working for the Ministry of Defense. They soon fell in love. Mischele got pregnant, and she accepted Liam’s marriage proposal. But when Mischele looked into his wallet, she was shocked by what she found.

Liam Allen’s full name was William Allen Jordan, and a Google search of his name revealed that he was notoriously known. Not only was he a bigamist who defrauded countless women, but he also pleaded guilty to inappropriate sexual conduct with a minor. She found a book online that his second wife, Mary Turner Thompson, wrote about him called The Bigamist: The True Story of a Husband’s Ultimate Betrayal.

Mischele downloaded the book, read it, and contacted Mary, who told her everything. In the book, Mary wrote of her experiences with William. One day, Mary received a call from a woman who claimed that William, father to Mary’s two children, had been married to her for 14 years. They had five children together. Thompson details how her husband conned her out of £200,000 and had been doing the same to countless women over 27 years.

Mischele alerted the authorities, staying with “Liam” so she could feed them evidence. She stated, “I knew if I cut him out of my life, I’d never catch him, so I told him we could work it out.” Mischele didn’t want him to continue doing the same to other women. William was swiftly arrested, with multiple cases of fraud linked to him.[4]

6 The Creator Of Wonder Woman Was A Man Of Many Secrets

Photo credit: Pinterest

Earlier this year, Gal Gadot starred in the critically acclaimed blockbuster movie Wonder Woman. The credited creator of the original character, William Moulton Marston, deserves a movie of his own for his interesting life. Luckily, a book called The Secret History of Wonder Woman, written by Jill Lepore, exists.[5]

Marston was a man of many talents, being a Harvard graduate, a huckster, a feminist, a psychologist, and the inventor of the lie detector test. Just like superheroes, Marston had a secret life that the public never knew about. He was a polyamorist who had one or two other women living with him and his wife.

He met a student named Olive Bryne while teaching at Tufts. He soon gave his wife an ultimatum: Either Olive lives with them or their marriage is over. He’d tell prying strangers that Olive was his sister-in-law or a blood relative when, in fact, he had children with her beside his wife.

Lepore, a professor of American history at Harvard and a staff writer at The New Yorker, writes in the book that Marston also had a thing for bondage. This explains why Wonder Woman often gets tied up in the comics.

5 Baseball Star Sued For Being A Deadbeat Dad To His Secret Family

Photo credit: Terry Foote

Bartolo Colon is a baseball pitcher with a successful 20-year career. He’s been married to his wife Rosanna for just over 20 years and has four sons with her. In 2015, the New York Post published a story that he was being sued for child support by a different woman.[6]

The woman in question was Alexandra Santos, who claimed that the baseball star, nicknamed “Big Sexy,” fathered her two kids with her, aged seven and eight. She also claims that Colon was a deadbeat dad who failed to pay child support. Colon’s secret family probably would have gone unknown, as both he and Santos signed confidentially agreements. The case was listed as Anonymous v. Anonymous. But Colon outed himself to the world after he represented himself for a time.

Santos’s attorney spoke to the Post, noting that “Mr. Colon obviously is a very talented baseball player and earns a significant income and we believe that his children should share in the lifestyle they would have enjoyed had their parents remained together.” Fortunately for Colon, he’s still married to his wife, who is reported to have known about his secret family for a time. Rosanna told the Post that it’s a personal matter that doesn’t want to talk about.

4 King Fahd’s Secret Wife Sues His Family

Photo credit: Hannah McKay/PA

In 2015, ten years after Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd passed, there were multiple headlines about his secret wife and her lawsuits against his family. Janan Harb was born to Christian parents and moved to Jeddah in 1967, where she met Fahd. Although Janan converted to Islam shortly before they secretly married, she was never accepted by his family. She was asked to leave the Kingdom by Fahd’s brother in 1970.

Janan alleges that she stayed in contact with King Fahd until a stroke left him incapacitated in 1995. In sharia law, she remained married to him even though she subsequently married two more times. Janan started running out of money and met with the king’s son from another wife, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Fahd. She told him that she was planning to release an autobiography disclosing all the details of her relationship with the king and the royal household. She was paid £5 million not to publish it.

When Janan ran out of money again, she claims that the prince promised £20 million in cash and properties, which the prince dismissed. In court, Janan was awarded the money, a decision which the prince later successfully appealed.[7]

Janan plans to fight for what she believes she’s owed. She maintains that King Fahd was planning to always take care of her, a wish his family failed to uphold after his death in 2005. She also explains that while she was married to Fahd, she managed to help him with business deals.

3 US Soldier Marries Woman In South Korea While Still Married Back Home

Photo credit: Rachel Lee

Rachel Lee was introduced to the now-retired Master Sergent Scott Fuller in August 2013. He was serving with his unit with the US Army’s 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea. He seemed like the man of her dreams. An Army sergeant—who’s more honorable than that?

Four months later, they tied the knot, with Fuller wearing a South Korean tunic on their wedding day to show how in love he was. However, the fairy tale soon ended when Fuller returned to the US without a word, leaving Lee with a broken heart and $50,000 in debt.

Fuller’s double life was discovered when he made the not-so-smart decision of submitting documents to have their marriage recognized in Korea. The documents of his Army and US embassy certifications were forgeries. It turned out that Fuller had an American wife named Marianne. When the Army returned Fuller to South Korea, he was found guilty of forgery and sentenced to eight months in prison.

The Army knocked him down a rank to sergeant first class. However, Fuller continued his forgeries, convincing the court that he’d finally divorced his American wife. His sentence was reduced on appeal to a $10,000 fine after he provided Lee and the court with his divorce judgment documents from a New York court.

But Fuller is one tricky fraudster. Lee claims that she later found out from Marianne that the divorce documents were also a forgery. “It’s not just a money matter,” said Lee, “He has broken my heart and my 16-year-old son’s heart.”[8]

2 Man Remarried With A Dead Man’s Identity

One of the more unbelievable stories in recent times features a Zephyrhills, Florida, man named Richard Hoagland. Richard called his wife, Linda Iseler, on February 10, 1993, telling her that he was feeling sick and was headed to the emergency room. He told her that she needn’t come with him and was never seen again. He was later presumed dead. 23 years later, it turned out that not only was Richard alive and well, but he was married with a new identity.

Richard had stolen the identity of Terry Symansky, a man who died in 1991. Richard knew Terry and once lived with him in Palm Beach. Police believe he found Terry’s death certificate and used it to obtain a birth certificate from Ohio, which he used to build a new life.[9] Richard went on to marry Mary Hossler Hickman in 1995 and father her son.

Richard was found out when the real Terry Symansky’s nephew used to look up his family tree for a family project. Knowing that his uncle had died, the nephew was shocked to find that several years later, Terry had apparently married and gotten a pilot’s license. Out of fear that the imposter would come after them, the family delayed telling the authorities for three years.

But eventually, they did, and Richard’s ruse came to an end when he was arrested for fraud, among other things. When Richard disappeared back in 1993, he left his wife Linda to take care of two sons, who were six and nine years old at the time. He had divorced before that, with two children from that marriage. Richard told police that he did what he did because Linda wanted a divorce, and he couldn’t face going through that again.

1 Anais Nin Was An Author With Two Husbands

Photo credit: George Leite

Anais Nin was a Cuban-American author who wrote novels, journals, short stories, essays, memoirs, and erotic literature. Her life seemed to be the stuff of fiction, which is probably why she kept a journal from the age of 11 until her death. In a rare case of a woman having two unsuspecting husbands, Anais married her first husband, Hugh Parker Guiler, when she was 17 or 18.

Guiler was a banker whose job took him all over the world. In 1947, Anais and Hugh were living in New York when she met the handsome Rupert Pole in an elevator. As fate would have it, they were both headed to the same cocktail party, where they spent hours talking. She was instantly attracted to him, even though he was 20 years younger.

As one thing led to another, Rupert was under the impression that Anais was divorced, a belief she never corrected. When Rupert moved to the West Coast, Anais went with him, telling her husband that she was going road-tripping with a female friend. Eventually, she gave in to Rupert’s requests for marriage. She maintained two separate lives on the West and East Coasts.

Being a writer definitely helped Anais to live a double life. She’d tell Hugh that she longed for the seclusion of the West Coast, where she could do her writing. She’d tell Rupert that she had to go to the East Coast for meetings with editors and magazine assignments. For 11 years, she’d travel from coast to coast in six-week stretches. Her life in New York was luxurious and well-off. Her life in California was domestic and housewife-like.

Things became so complicated that Anais had to create a “lie box” to keep the charade going. She had a giant purse where she kept two checkbooks with two separate names and prescription bottles from New York and California doctors. Finally, Anais came clean to Rupert after she was diagnosed with cancer, knowing that she’d have to put her affairs in order. She’d become famous from her writing and probably knew the truth would come out, one way or another. She annulled her marriage to Rupert, although they continued to stay together.

Biographer Deirdre Bair notes that Hugh was no dummy and knew what his wife was up to in California.[10] Anais Nin died on January 14, 1977, at the age of 73. After Hugh died, Rupert arranged to have his ashes scattered at the same place Anais’s ashes were.


fact checked by Jamie Frater