Saturday, April 30, 2011

Suburban woman is sued after elaborate online hoax -

When the Colorado volunteer firefighter she loved died unexpectedly of liver cancer in 2006, Paula Bonhomme tenderly re-examined his gifts to her: a rubber duck with a firefighter hat, a lock of his hair, a flattened quarter he'd stuck on the train tracks as a kid.

Most sentimental of all was the chain-sawed slab of wood Jesse Jubilee James had carved their initials into after helping extinguish a forest fire. His carving knife, he'd noted in black marker on the back, had first been "heated in (the) fire's ash."

The couple's own passion was sparked in flirty exchanges on the message board for HBO's "Deadwood" series in 2005. Soon they were trading emails, letters, postcards, photos and talking almost every day on the phone.

Even though they had never met, Bonhomme left an unhappy marriage in Los Angeles and was set to move to Colorado in 2006 when she learned James was dead. He hadn't told anyone else of his diagnosis, James' sister said, and didn't want a memorial service. "You all have temples within you," he wrote in a last note, "go there if you want to honor me."

About seven months later, Bonhomme's friends uncovered the creepy truth. James, his young son and about 20 other friends and family members Bonhomme had been communicating with for months were characters allegedly created by a woman in Chicago's west suburbs.