Alicia Grant believes she was wife No. 3.
She married Michael Middleton in New Hampshire in 2013 after meeting him on the internet. He was the kind of guy who “makes you feel special,” as she told WMTW 8 from her home in Exeter, New Hampshire. But he also wanted her to buy a lot of things for him, she said.
There was the Z28 Camaro, all the new clothes, the gadgets. “He’d say, ‘Babe, I really like this computer! Can we get this computer?'” Grant recounted in another interview with Newsweek. “So I bought a computer” – only to discover later Middleton had returned multiple gifts so he could pocket the cash.
Their relationship fell apart when he struck her, leading to a domestic violence arrest for Middleton just weeks into their marriage, she told Newsweek. And then after that, Grant told WMTW 8, “my life has been a Lifetime movie.”
After the arrest, Middleton disappeared. In just a short time, Grant claimed, he swindled her out of $20,000. She spent years searching for him, seeking to annul the marriage so she could move on with her life. Finally, this year, she got closer.
Prosecutors revealed in a January indictment that Grant discovered she wasn’t Middleton’s only wife when she made a phone call – and the woman on the other end of the line identified herself as Middleton’s wife, too. It turns out they weren’t alone, either.
Called “Cupid of Chaos” by police, Middleton now stands charged with bigamy in New Hampshire after Grant reported her discovery to police, who then discovered even more marriages he allegedly entered into in bad faith across the country, authorities announced Tuesday. Prosecutors contend the 43-year-old Maine resident kept marrying women so he could drain them of their assets and then leave them in the lurch, the Portland Press Herald reported. At the time he married Grant, he was already married to two other women in Alabama and Georgia, police found.
And now a fourth possible wife, Ashley Climer, has come forward, this time in Ohio.
Grant’s interviews with various news outlets apparently paid off: Climer’s family saw the story about Middleton published in Newsweek after Middleton failed to show at his Feb. 7 arraignment on the bigamy charges in Strafford County, New Hampshire. After recognizing the wanted man as Middleton, one family member began to fear for the woman’s safety, Franklin County Patrol Chief Jim Gilbert told the outlet. The tipster informed the sheriff’s office Middleton had fled to Columbus, Ohio, and told police where they could find him: outside the home of his alleged fourth set of in-laws.
Sure enough, that’s where they got him Friday. He was taken into custody on bigamy and outstanding domestic violence charges in New Hampshire, and on outstanding warrants for domestic violence, violation of a protection order, DUI and driving without a valid license in Maine, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday.
“Third time’s NOT a charm,” the sheriff’s office wrote on Twitter after making the arrest. “This ‘Cupid of Chaos’ is now awaiting extradition in our jail.”
Authorities in Ohio and New Hampshire say they believe there may be more wives out there. It’s unclear whether authorities in Georgia or Alabama, where the other two wives were married to Middleton, have opened criminal investigations.
“He makes you feel special. He makes you feel like he actually cares about you,” Grant told WMTW 8. “And then he marries you, abuses you, drains your assets and leaves.”
Climer, a 25-year-old developmentally disabled woman, became the fourth alleged wife to come forward to local news media about her marriage to Middleton this week, presenting a Kentucky marriage license. She is also identified as Ashley Collins or Ashley Middleton in some news reports. She told NBC4 in Columbus she met Middleton on Facebook in March 2016, and tied the knot the next month.
She spent the next three years with him traveling around the country and living out of motels, some of which, she said, were roach-infested. Soon, she was pregnant, giving birth to a baby girl in 2017, Climer said.
But Climer and her mother, who appeared with her for the interview, said things took a turn for the worse last year. They said Middleton forged Climer’s signature to put the baby up for adoption in Missouri.
“It disgusts me. It hurts me,” Climer said. “I don’t know how he could say he loved me and just lie to my face for three years.”
The mother and daughter told NBC4 they are in touch with the police. Her other family members captured his arrest outside the residence on cellphone video footage, showing a heavyset man in blue jeans and a baseball cap slipping into handcuffs. In interviews with local news, they urged the other possible wives to come forward.
“He’s such a con man,” Climer’s sister-in-law, Tiffany Collins, told WMUR 9. “I think he preys on certain women, women that have been hurt or women that just need that reassurance, and then he plays whatever part they need and turns them against their family.”
It’s unclear if Middleton has an attorney on the case yet; he declined to comment in previous reports. Records show he is in jail in Franklin County, Ohio, with no bond. An extradition hearing is scheduled for Friday.