July 15, 1995 – 6 Miles off the Coast of North Carolina
“This can’t be happening!” Teresa thought as she struggled desperately to reach the surface of the water.
Only a moment before she had been standing at the railing of her new 32-foot cabin cruiser reveling in how
happy and content she felt. In all her 60 years she had never been so much in love. The last thing she
remembered, she had been enjoying the feel of the wind in her hair and admiring the view. Then without
warning, the railing had snapped and she had tumbled overboard.
When her head finally broke free, it was all she could do to get enough air into her lungs to scream for help
before another wave washed over her instantly flooding into her mouth and nose.
“Oh God! Help me! Help!” she choked out, panic seizing her as she frantically tried to stay afloat. She barely
got the words out before another wave loomed over her. “Christoff! Help me! For God’s sake, help me!” she
cried, her shouts reverberating across the expanse. The yacht had come to a stop and was idling in the
distance. Once again the surging swells engulfed her.
When the wave passed, she raked her sodden hair back out of her eyes to see her husband standing in the
stern of boat. The distance between her and the boat had stretched to fifty yards. Fearing that he hadn’t
heard her cries, she waved her arms over her head. No sooner had she done so that another wave took her
under and after what seemed like forever, she resurfaced sputtering and gasping for breath.
“Christoff! Over here! Please, you’ve got to help me!” she screamed.
When she looked again, to her absolute horror, she saw that instead of rushing to her aid, he was standing in
the stern, scanning the water in her direction with binoculars. She was sure that he was looking right at her.
Yet he made no move to save her, but inexplicably stood mutely watching her. Panic swelled in her wildly
pounding heart as she saw him casually let the binoculars hang down on the strap around his neck, reach into
his pocket, withdraw a cigarette, cup his hands around the tip, light it and blow a stream of smoke into the wind.
“Christoff! What are you doing? Please! Oh, my God! Help me back into the boat!” she shrieked, “you’ve got
to help me!”
Her husband seemed rooted to the spot; casually flicking the ashes from his cigarette over the side and staring
in her direction. She couldn’t imagine why he seemed so unconcerned and why he wasn’t doing something to
save her. She knew he had to see her. Each time she was overwhelmed beneath a wave, she would come
back up to see that he was still there, his head tilted slightly to one side with one hand on the railing bracing
himself on the rolling deck and holding the cigarette to his lips with the other.
“Christoff, over here! What are you waiting for! You can’t just let me die!” she wailed.
She realized with a start that the current was taking her farther away from the boat by the second. Her husband
still made no move to come to her aid, so she began awkwardly dog paddling towards the boat doing her best
to keep her face out of the water. To her dismay, it wasn’t enough. She had never been a strong swimmer and
her efforts were useless. For every few feet she gained, she lost even more. The next time she looked, he
wasn’t at the back of the boat any more. Relief surged through her. He had come to his senses and was finally
going to save her. Perhaps he had just been frozen with fear for her she rationalized. Yes, that would explain
it, she told herself. People do strange things in panic situations. He had simply been so shocked; he must have
been paralyzed with confusion. He simply needed to analyze the situation before taking action. She was sure it
was just a matter of time before he pulled the boat closer, tossed her a life ring and pulled her out of the water.
Knowing that her young handsome husband was coming gave her a rush of renewed hope and strength. All
she had to do was stay calm and it would all be over shortly.
Then she heard the diesels kick over and the boat began a wide arch circling back around in her direction.
She wasn’t sure how long she had been in the water, but she felt chilled to the bone. The prospect of warm
towels and a sip of that wonderful brandy Christoff had brought along was almost more than she could bear.
She promised herself that as soon as she was safely back on the boat, she would let him know in no uncertain
terms how much his odd behavior
had frightened her.
Then the unimaginable happened. Instead of coming right up next to her as she expected, the boat came to
rest well past her. Her heart sank. It was closer, but still too far from her position to do any good. As soon as
the boat settled back down into the chop, her husband came to the side of the boat, but this time he had his
hands cupped around his mouth as he shouted to her.
“Teresa! Can you hear me?” he yelled.
“Yes, I hear you! What are you doing? For God’s sake, move the boat closer! Please, Christoff, I begging
you! I don’t know how much longer I can hang on!” she screamed.
“I’d really like to help you, but you see, I’ve already got everything I need from you! Remember that million-
dollar insurance policy we took out on you? The agent says it’ll pay, so I’m afraid, your time’s up. I just thought
you’d like to know that I’ll take good care of your money!” he shouted over the wind.
“What are you talking about? Is that all you care about? My money? Are you insane? Please, Christoff, you
can have it all! I don’t care! Please! For the love of God help me!” she pleaded. “You know I can’t swim!”
“As your grieving husband, I can have it all, Teresa! Don’t you get it? Why should I tie myself down with an old
bag of bones like you? If you divorced me, I’d get nothing! This way, I get your properties and insurance
money with no strings attached! I’m a young virile man, Teresa! Did you really think I enjoyed making love to
an old dried up prune like you? I can’t wait another twenty years! Can’t you even die without that incessant
whining? Do you have any idea how hard it’s been pretending to listen to you yammer on and on and on day
after day after day! Have you any idea how truly boring you really are? I’ve got a real life to live, Teresa! Do
us all a favor! Just get on with it! Good-bye, Teresa!”
With a final mock salute, he flicked his cigarette butt in her general direction, returned to the wheelhouse,
revved up the engines, swept around in her direction, flew past her and left her bobbing in his wake. As she
helplessly watched her only chance of survival shrink in the distance, Teresa’s heart was inundated with shock,
outrage and then indescribable despair. His brutal parting words hurt her more than the prospect of her
impending death. The enormity of his betrayal was more than she could bear. How could she have been such
a fool! Two years! He had been her whole world for two years and it had all been a lie! He wasn’t even willing
to let her die in peace. He couldn’t even give her that! He just couldn’t leave without ripping away her last
shred of dignity.
“Dear God in heaven,” she prayed, “make him pay. For all that is holy, make him pay.”
Stoically accepting her fate, Teresa Montgomery closed her eyes, said another prayer for her immortal soul,
opened her mouth to the swirling waves, sucked the water into her lungs and surrendered to the pull of the
deep. She lost consciousness with her husband’s parting words still ringing in her ears.
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