Out in the Open

Married to a conman

What happens when the man you marry turns out to be a notorious conman? Lee Mackenzie knows the answer all too well. She tells Piya it has taken her more than 30 years to move past the shame.
Lee Mackenzie and Kenner Jones on their wedding day in Nanaimo in July of 1982. (Submitted by Lee Mackenzie)

Lee Mackenzie met Kenner Jones in Wales, on a backpacking trip she was taking between semesters at journalism school. 

She describes herself as young and naive, "I had grown up in a...small rural neighbourhood on Vancouver Island, where people didn't lock their doors and nobody was suspicious of anybody else."

After corresponding by mail, Lee fell for Kenner, and in 1982, they married. But not long after, the relationship was in ruins. 

He'd stolen her money, forged her name on bad cheques, and left her not just in legal peril and financial ruin, but emotionally shattered.

"He was gone. I'm lying on a bed. Everything hurts so badly from this emotional devastation that I'm having trouble getting a breath, and my peripheral vision starts to go, and I'm coming into this tunnel. It's black all around me and I feel like 'I'm going to leave. This is going to be the end. As soon as this tunnel collapses into just total darkness I'll be gone and that will be a relief.'"   

It's taken Lee years to move past the feeling that she was to blame.

"There's two deceptions here…He deceived me, oh yes, I deceived me also."

Meanwhile, Kenner's been conning people all over the world — posing as a spiritual leader, a political refugee, and even working as a doctor.

Now, Lee's written her story in a new book called The Charming Predator: The True Story of How I Fell in Love with and Married a Sociopathic Fraud.

Lee's story of being deceived doesn't end with devastation and self-blame.

"I wasn't going to turn into a brittle person who would never believe anything that anyone said, never trust, never love, if I did that he wins."

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