“NEVER allow your TEARS TODAY to DETOUR the HOPE you have for TOMORROW.

Leaving San Antonio to return for a memorial in Parker County today, my heart was heavy. For several days now I’ve been hearing from three brides that are upset about letters being sent from inmates that are running from hot to cold. It’s not uncommon for my clients to call me because many of them don’t have family and friends who support their decision to love an inmate. It’s not an easy path and it’s far harder when you don’t know what to believe anymore from an inmate.

A lot of people are surprised I’m so comfortable in prisons. I’m going to share a little background with you to enlighten you. My mother was a heroin addict and effectively in or out of jail or prison most of her life. She forgot my sisters, brother and I on a regular basis. The police station was familiar to us. We spent a lot of time there while officers tried to track down our mother, father or grandparents. Actually, we were comfortable at the police station from a very young age. There were donuts and vending machines and a building full of officers concerned about our well being. You could say we grew up in police stations due to the amount of time we spent waiting for someone to come pick us up. When we were left at the park for hours and another parent noticed, we had the luxury of riding to the police station in the police car.

About ten years ago while in California, I was asked to perform a wedding at Lompoc. Since then I have performed weddings at State, Federal, ICE and County Jails nationwide.

Today while at lunch preparing to go to the memorial for Garrett who was married in June this year, Cindy and I discussed a few emails from brides and grooms planning to marry an inmate as well as a pesky journalist who somehow managed to find out that I am the TDCJ Approved Officiant scheduled to marry a high profile inmate to a woman rather than a man. No thanks. My clients and their confidentiality are important to me. Go fishing somewhere else Pal.

I don’t discuss details of inmates. I don’t share personal information about my clients either. My clients are on the outside. The inmate isn’t my client. The person on the outside is. I’m protective of personal information of my client and the inmate because the inmates crimes often affect perception of my clients from the general public. I’ve never asked why someone is incarcerated. It’s none of my business. Sure, I could look and find it but I don’t. Why? Because my opinion of an inmate is based on their behavior towards me. I don’t want a preconceived idea about an inmate. I “go into every Unit” fresh and without any opinion as to why an inmate is incarcerated just as I would with any client who isn’t incarcerated. Everyone is treated with respect and dignity regardless of where they are marrying.

I’m going to share with you that back in 2007, my twin sister and I literally did everything we could to discourage a relationship with her daughter Leigh Ann and a con artist she bumped into at Target in Lake Worth while we were buying bathing suits for my twin grandnieces on our way to NRH20.

This guy followed us several aisles. I didn’t like him right off. Cindy didn’t either but within weeks Leigh Ann was madly in love with a guy who claimed to be a war hero.

Coming from a military family ourselves, these war stories were fishy to say the least and yet we had no way to disprove everything David said that Leigh Ann believed. This scenario came up at lunch today for a few reasons.

First, because I was discussing a bride who caught her fiancée in a fling with another woman at her house.

Secondly, because she’s pregnant. I don’t want her to marry this guy. I’ve been really pretty vocal about this. I’m always really vocal when I feel strongly against anyone whether it’s my clients or my own family members marrying. I’m a very protective person. I couldn’t win against David. Cindy couldn’t either. Whatever we found on this guy Leigh Ann refused to read.

Playing with her food and probably remembering the drama of David in her life, Leigh Ann looked over and asked “are you going to go as far as you did with David?”

My answer was “I might. He’s going to hurt her and break her heart. This isn’t husband material she deserves better.” I meant it.

Marriage records are public in Texas. Leigh Ann and David had bought a marriage license in McClennan County on their way to his hearing in Amarillo. A reporter would later call Leigh Ann to ask about that marriage license. Thank God she didn’t marry this guy.

Richard David McClanahan knew or must have had some idea that he would be arrested and yet he goes in the opposite direction to Waco to purchase a marriage license with my niece before backtracking to Amarillo? I know the distance because there are prisons near both cities that I have conducted weddings at. Why would he choose Waco? Was it because he was familiar with the clerks office there? Why would he want to buy a marriage license knowing the sentencing he was facing for his stolen valor and financial lies on a bank record? I will never know but I will always wonder.

Leigh Ann didn’t know that David would be arrested at that hearing. She didn’t know she would be driving his car back to drop it at the dealership and turn it in or find a home for his dog or empty his apartment and store everything while he went straight from that hearing to a prison. FCI Yazoo City to be exact.

Even after being called by someone telling her that David was going to prison, Leigh Ann didn’t believe it. She didn’t attend the hearing. She waited at the hotel. I’m glad she did. David was her first real boyfriend. The first person to ask her to marry him. The first person to take her breath away. She believed she loved him. She believed he was telling her the truth. Cindy and I didn’t.

Leigh Ann and David had planned to marry after the hearing. That never happened. She still has the marriage license.

After the hearing, David’s attorney called Leigh Ann to tell her he wasn’t coming back. She called her mom, my twin sister who called me. The details were sketchy. We wanted to fly her home. David’s attorney wanted her to return his car.

The thought of my hysterical niece driving back to Weatherford from Amarillo was horrific. She was overwhelmed. She was shocked. She was finally seeing through the faux life that David had created.

Something was always off about David. He moved fast. Really fast.

After the Amarillo arrest, we helped Leigh Ann drop off David’s car and find a home for his dog and loaded all of his possessions into a UHAUL and into storage. There was a box of medals. Another box of state issued license plates. There were weird things that supported his charges.

He still called from prison and even talked Leigh Ann into visiting him in Mississippi. She took one of my grandnieces, Makenna with her.

As usual, David claimed to be innocent. “This is all a mistake. I will get put and when I do we will get married.” Cindy and I were both anxious about this and had already begun skip tracing David and his history. David has quite a colorful history.

To those who met him, Richard David McClanahan was quite the hero, an attractive man with an impressive military career. Three Purple Hearts. Three Silver Stars. Two tours in Iraq. One tour in Afghanistan. He was a POW being considered for the Medal of Honor.
The only problem was none of it was true.
Ms. Beard, who has filed for an annulment of her marriage, is now trying to help other would-be victims of Mr. McClanahan’s scams. She contacted my niece. Leigh Ann (at the time) wasn’t willing to listen.
“My perspective is more of a victims’ advocate,” she said Friday. “I just want people to know so they can make an informed decision. I don’t want them to be stuck with a $30,000 debt.”
Since learning about her husband’s habitual lying, Ms. Beard has received e-mails from girlfriends he had while married to his first wife. She’s also been in touch with some of his more recent girlfriends – women he has dated since he and Ms. Beard broke up in April. One bought him a car and a cellphone, she said.
“I’m up to six, if not eight” girlfriends, she said of the women she’s been in contact with.
David literally was living a double life during the time he spent wooing my niece as Cindy and I collected more and more information about David that Leigh Ann wouldn’t read.

McClanahan was arraigned June 13, 2007 in Amarillo, Texas, for the charges pending against him in federal court. He pleaded not guilty.

The felony charge, which accuses McClanahan of misstating and inflating his income on a financial statement in order to get a car loan, carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million, Drake said.

The charge of falsely claiming he had three Silver Stars, three Purple Hearts and the Legion of Merit carries up to six months in prison and a $5,000 fine.

The final charge, falsely claiming he received a Medal of Honor, carries a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

David spent about a year and a half in prison. He had a 3 year prison term but was released early on good behavior.

While in prison he told Leigh Ann to use his account to pay for phone calls and put money on his books. We still couldn’t get rid of this guy no matter what we tried. Leigh Ann did everything David told her to do THEN David accused her of bank fraud. This idiot had finally laid out enough rope to hang himself.

Horrified, Leigh Ann told me about this accusation. I immediately began collecting information and evidence regarding where the money was sent and on what as well as letters from David instructing Leigh Ann what to do with the money. I created a defense so strong that the bank went back on David.

Con artists don’t care who they hurt or who they use. David didn’t. He finally showed his true colors. We thought it was over but a year and a half later, David called Leigh Ann after release from prison and she decided to go to lunch.

2-3 years of David in and out of her life had worn her out. Did he love her? Was he a sociopath? Could he change? Our answers were no over and over again. David had a furnished apartment. He also had a two year old car.

Leigh Ann asked “how and why he had obtained these things after just being released from prison?”

His answer? “People give me things and do things for me. Do you want to get married?” Leigh Ann left and never contacted him again.

She didn’t date or anything and later bumped into her current husband while traveling to a Microsoft meeting in Seattle.

Alex is everything that David wasn’t. He’s military and in the Navy. He’s a good father and provider. He’s honest and determined to be the best husband he can be.

David is still living somewhere in Fort Worth. He’s also probably looking for his next wife if he hasn’t found one already.

The best advice I can give anyone is to find out more about who you are marrying. Ask questions. Get answers. Run a background check. Do what you need to do to protect you.

My role is to protect you from things you may not see or notice that I do. My role by far exceeds simply showing up and marrying you. I’m your friend and will always be your friend. I care about your future and your happiness.