5 Coworkers So Terrible, It Was Criminal

You hate your co-workers for a simple reason: You hate work, and when you work, you co-workers are there. Their habits and gossip aren’t really as terrible as you make them out to be, and if you got to know them a little more after-hours, you’d probably like them a lot more.

Unless they’re like the co-workers below. There’s no room for reconciliation with these people. There is only option: Send them directly to jail.

One Guy Killed His Co-Worker Because the Woman He Was Catfishing Was Catfishing That Guy, Too

Like many people, 46-year-old Thomas Montgomery had a great plan when dating online: He’d pretend to be a young man in the military. He had been in the military once, but he wasn’t any longer, and he was also no longer 18 years old, the age he claimed to be online. He chose the age of 18 because that was the age of Talhotblond, with whom he was chatting. When she asked for a photo of him, he sent one from almost 30 years in the past. This exchange happened in 2006, and you’d think a photo from the late 1970s would attract some suspicion.

MASH finale Hawkeye


Particularly since it was this photo here. 

But Tom’s trick seemed to work. Talhotblond (or “Jessi,” as she revealed as her real name) sent sexy photos in return, as well as a pile of physical mementos by post. The two embarked on an online relationship whose intensity was limited only by their typing speed. Then, one day, when Jessi sent a message, Tom wasn’t at the computer. His daughter was. This daughter yelled, “Uh… mom?!” and along came wife Cindy, who upon reading the chatlogs gave the desk beneath the PC a good look for the first time in ages and found the goodies Jessi had sent Tom (photos, underwear, love letters). Cindy chatted with Jessi now, telling her the guy she’d been messaging had been married for 17 years and was 46.

That was largely the end of the relationship between Talhotblond and Tom. But Jessi seemed reluctant to accept the truth. Having learned where Tom worked from his wife, she now messaged the guy’s co-workers in hopes of hearing confirmation one way or the other about who he really was. One of these co-workers at the factory was Brian Barrett, who said, yeah, Tom was 46 all right, and married with two kids. But you know who was 22, single and an appropriate person to chat with? Brian! 

Brian was telling the truth about this, and he even used his real photo. 

Brian Barrett


Risky move, Brian. There are predators out there!

“Brian will pay in blood,” said Tom, continuing to message Jessi. When he got word that the two were planning to meet in person, he waited till his work shift ended and shot Brian dead in his car. He pleaded guilty and got 20 years in prison. 

Trying to pick up the pieces, police now went to pay a visit to Jessi, who was apparently Jessi Shieler, a recent high school graduate in West Virginia. The door was opened by her mother, Mary. This proved just as well. Because when they questioned her, police learned that the online person calling herself Talhotblond/Jessi had in fact been Mary all along, who was assuming the persona of her own daughter. Mary was 45 years old. 

The photos really were of her daughter, as was an upskirt video she’d shot and sent without her daughter’s knowledge. You perhaps won’t be terribly surprised to learn that when the real Jessi learned about this, she cut off all ties with her mother. Mary herself went on to insist she’d done nothing wrong, even claiming that by chatting with Tom, she’d stopped him from chatting up any real teenagers, so she’d actually performed a service. 

One Pizza Employee Admitted Killing Another, But Can’t Be Arrested

Police at first didn’t know who’d murdered Declan Lyons. The man had been shot while mixing sauce outdoors for a Vermont pizza restaurant, and since this was April 2002 and there no was other clear motive, police wondered if some random passerby had targeted him for being Arab. Lyons wasn’t Arab, but that didn’t rule out this theory. Then they received a call from Kathi Turnbaugh, saying her son Isaac, who worked at the same pizza place, was telling friends he was the shooter. 

American Flatbread restaurant

Nate W/TripAdvisor 

The motive was “having just spent several hours dealing with customers.”

They brought Turnbaugh in and got his confession. He pleaded not guilty, however, and the case went to trial. Other than the confession, the prosecution lacked evidence tying Turnbaugh to the crime. They had no ballistics evidence, for example, because investigators had never found the bullet and in fact had originally been unsure Lyons had been shot at all, wondering if maybe a rock leapt from the oven and killed him. The defense argued Turnbaugh had only confessed because he was high, and thanks to mental illness. The jury found him not guilty, and based on the case presented, this appears to have been the correct choice. A confession, later recanted, is not enough for a murder conviction, as police frequently manage to obtain false confessions. 

One month later, Turnbaugh had a standoff with a SWAT team. He took a baseball bat to his parents’ house (possibly still bitter about his mom calling the cops on him), and mom and dad fled to the safety of a neighbor’s place. As Turnbaugh smashed up the place, police and SWAT officers surrounded the home and threw in cans of tear gas to bring him down. That’s an impressive rampage from one man armed just with a bat. 

A Tony Gwynn game used and autographed baseball bat.

Tony the Marine/Wiki Commons

“Call the SWAT team! He has a swatter!”

Seven years after his acquittal for murder, Turnbaugh contacted the police again. He’d killed Declan Lyons, he said. No, he hadn’t killed him a second time — he was confessing again to that earlier murder, for realsies this time. Police believed him, but there wasn’t much they could do with the information. A jury had already cleared him of the crime, and there was no retrying him now. They couldn’t even pursue perjury charges or anything like that because all relevant statutes of limitation for lesser offenses had passed. 

At this point, Turnbaugh allegedly grew angry and attacked an officer, physically. Now, they did have at least something to charge him with: assault. Turnbaugh pleaded not guilty. 

Nancy Grace’s Origin Story

Nancy Grace is known for her multiple crime-themed news commentary TV shows. The way it works, the media picks one recent murder and decides that’s what they’ll talk about all summer, and then it’s Nancy Grace’s job to attack the system for taking so long to imprison whoever’s currently the top suspect. It was a lucrative business for years, till murder podcasts became a thing, and people realized that the entire history of crime offers more to sink their teeth into than whatever current insignificant case the news has arbitrarily fixated on. 

Gone Girl Nancy Still

20th Century Studios

She was such a big deal, Gone Girl parodied her, and she was flattered

Before she was a TV personality, Grace was a prosecutor. Before that came an incident when she was 19, which she’d go on to describe as her origin story. He fiancé was murdered just months before their wedding. The way she’d tell it, some random thug shot him for the money in his wallet, some thug with an long criminal history, so it was really the system’s fault for letting him run free. Conviction took ages, and then came a bunch of appeals, all needlessly delaying the punishment that this clearly guilty guy deserved. The only reason he didn’t get the death penalty was that she herself opted against it, a decision she’d later deeply regret. 

Grace’s fiancé Keith really was murdered in 1979, and that sort of thing does leave a mark on someone. But as proof that the system coddles criminals and as a justification for a crusade against defense lawyers, the story falls a little short. 

Objection Nancy Grace

Toto Press

Well, at least both sides can agree the 24/7 media is to blame

The man who killed Keith was not a stranger but a co-worker of his at Ingram Construction. Tommy McCoy had been fired, and he returned to the construction site with a gun so he could take revenge. He did not mug Keith but instead shot him because he was the first person he saw there. He then turned his gun on the next co-worker he saw, but he was out of ammunition by this point. 

McCoy had no criminal record, so tighter prosecutions would not have prevented this incident. The trial wrapped up in a single day, with an easy conviction. He filed no appeal. The prosecutor did ask for the death penalty, but this was rejected because McCoy was “mildly retarded.” 

You have to come away from an incident like this changed, but a vendetta against the defense side of the court system seems like the wrong target for your rage. Otherwise, we would have got at least one alt version of Batman where he dedicated his life to just beating up defense attorneys. 

The 1971 Guinea Scissors Incident

In 1971, only two people worked at the American embassy in Equatorial Guinea. One was diplomat Alfred J. Erdos, and the other was his underling, Donald Leahy. Inevitably, one murdered the other. 

Malabo coast line

Ipisking/Wiki Commons

Every office partnership ends this way. 

As proof for exactly what was going through the head of murderer Erdos, we have a radio message he sent out at 4 p.m. on August 30th. “I am not losing my mind,” he said, always an encouraging way to start a broadcast. “I am locked in the vault with my admin officer, who is a communist agent and part of a massive plot against the United States. The U.S. will be accused shortly in a large showing at the U.N., and I fear for my life.”

He had tied up Leahy with an extension cord in the embassy vault after threatening him with a pair of scissors. He now delivered regular commentary over the radio until he grew concerned that those on the other end may be in on the communist plot as well. After a while, he loosened Leahy’s bonds so to be able to retie them more securely, and the man took this opportunity to flee. Erdos now chased him down and hacked at him with the scissors. “Gee, the human skin is as tough as leather,” he’d later recall noting. The stabbing produced so much blood that he was convinced this was some red dye that Leahy had kept in a balloon for precisely this situation. 


Aleksandar Živković/Unsplash


Leahy was not a spy. Erdos — contrary to a confident report issued that day from the senior official at the American embassy in Equatorial Guinea — had gone insane. One possible factor was that across from his residence was a local police station, from which he regularly heard the screams of prisoners being tortured. 

He was found guilty of second-degree murder and spent three years in prison. It’s also possible that he and Leahy had had a sexual relationship, and while investigators never quite confirmed details about that, we all know that office romances often get messy. 

The Semen Water Bottles

Okay, we’ve talked about a lot of murder today. For those who find that sort of thing distasteful, the following story will surely serve as a palate cleanser. 

In January 2010, a California investment bank employee identified only as “Tiffany G” realized that her water bottle tasted a little off. It was a refillable bottle, she refilled it frequently, and today, she noticed some unspecified matter floating in there. She dumped the contents and tried to forget about it. 

water bottle

Karl Köhler/Unsplash

Worst-case scenario, someone had spiked her bottle with Dasani. 

Three months later, it happened again. At this point, she said to herself, “Hold on. This water tastes like sperm,” and there was one way to find out for sure: going home and asking her fiancé to ejaculate into a fresh bottle of water, so she could taste that as well and compare the two. This supported her suspicion, but police did not consider that adequate proof. Nor did her own company’s HR department. 

So, she took the original contaminated bottle to a private lab, who confirmed the presence of semen. This step did convince the police, who performed a DNA test and rounded up possible suspects. The DNA matched a co-worker, Michael Lallana. She barely knew the guy. But he’d noticed her, he liked the look of her and he figured that dipping his dick into a vessel that her lips had touched was the closest he’d ever get to her. He never thought she’d actually drink the water afterward, he said, in a statement believed by nobody. Also, noted his lawyer, there’s no actual law against orgasming into unattended bottles, so technically, he’d committed no crime.

The courts did not quite agree on that last part. They convicted him of battery, which meant 180 days in prison, three years of probation and registering as a sex offender. Plus, he had to pay the object of his affection $27,000 in restitution

Michael Lallana

Orange County 

He probably enjoyed that part, the little freak.

Truly, this was heinous act by a co-worker. Either that or this was secretly orchestrated by the office managers, as part of a conspiracy to encourage employees to pay for sealed drinks out of the vending machine. 

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