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“My name is Duke, I am from Aberdeen do you know where? I have a son named Kevin and by the Grace of God I will meet that someone again.”The typical Facebook user would likely recognize such a note as bait, but Elrod was in a place in her life that made her vulnerable to such flattery.
She was in the midst of divorcing her husband of 14 years; his legal woes (including arrests for benefits fraud and making a false bomb report) had strained their marriage.
Elrod and Mc Gregor were soon chatting online for more than 12 hours a day.
Sometimes, if her phone bill was due or her refrigerator was barren, she kept a few dollars for herself.The 45-year-old divorcée and junior-college dropout now lived in Bluefield, West Virginia, a fading town near the Appalachian coalfields where she’d been raised.In addition to collecting 4 in unemployment benefits each week, Elrod made ends meet by hustling: She resold packages of discount toilet paper and peddled small quantities of prescription drugs.“He wasn’t like the little boys I was used to dealing with—he was the opposite of that, so sincere, so caring,” Elrod says.“It wasn’t always about him, it was about me, about everyday stuff in my life.” Within weeks of their initial Facebook encounter, Elrod was telling Mc Gregor her most intimate secrets; he, in turn, was emailing her lists with titles like “100 Things We’ll Do Together Before We Die.” By the end of April 2011—only a month into their romance—they were discussing marriage.As soon as Elrod would exit First Community with a bundle of and 0 bills in her purse, she’d hang a right and walk across the parking lot to Ridgeview Plaza, a vast and featureless shopping mall surrounded by scraggly woods.She would pass by the drive-through tobacco outlet, the Dollar Tree, and Bellacino’s Pizza & Grinders en route to the mall’s centerpiece, a typically gargantuan Walmart.Elrod never let this money linger: She always showed up at the bank a few hours after a transfer cleared, to withdraw as much as ,500 in cash.She would then return on subsequent days to make additional four-figure withdrawals until the account was nearly empty.was in rough financial shape as the 2012 holiday season drew near.She’d been out of work for a year, ever since quitting her longtime clerical job at the county public health department in Charlotte, North Carolina.