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15 Mail-Order Bride Horror Stories

Updated June 14, 2019 39.0k views15 items

The concept of mail-order brides traces back centuries, and mail-order bride horror stories continue to engross people today. The mail-order bride phenomenon goes all the way back to 19th century America. Men working on the frontiers of the western United States posted advertisements for wives in eastern publications. In the 20th and 21st centuries, mail-order brides were exclusively from foreign countries, mostly the former Eastern Bloc and Southeast Asia. Naturally, many mail-order marriage horror stories arose from this practice, acting as a sort of predecessor to online dating nightmares

Most of the instances below deal with scummy men who took advantage of vulnerable and trusting women, but some detail mail-order bride crimes where the leading lady makes off with her husband's money, and sometimes his life. When ordering a bride through the mail goes wrong, any number of abusive, deadly, or even awkward situations can arise. 

  • Lester Barney Killed Alla Barney In Front Of Their Four-Year-Old

    Alla Barney, a 26-year-old, Ukrainian-born engineer, was the mail-order bride of Lester Barney, a man over 30 years her senior. When the marriage went sour, Alla filed a restraining order against Lester and gained custody of their four-year-old son, Daniel. One afternoon, as she picked up him from daycare and strapping him into his car seat, Lester attacked her with a steak knife. Alla bled to death before Daniel's eyes. Lester's galling attempt to claim the murder as self-defense failed, and he is currently serving life in prison.

  • Reina Swierski Was Strangled By Her Husband And Dumped In The Santa Cruz Mountains

    Video: YouTube

    In 2008, hikers in Castle Rock State Park in Los Gatos, California came upon a human skull. It took two years until authorities discovered the skull belonged to Reina Swierski, a Filipino mail-order bride who had been married to American man Gary Swierski before going missing in 2005. A year after her skull was identified, Gary's adult daughter confessed she helped her father get rid of Reina's body after he strangled her; his daughter was 19 at the time of Reina's death. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison. The rest of Reina's remains remain undiscovered, and there is speculation that Gary, who had a long history of abusing Reina and other women, got away with murdering another girlfriend 10 years before Reina.

  • Oksana Makarova Married A Florida Doctor So Her Young Son Could Have Better Opportunities--But Her Husband Had Other Ideas

    Oksana Makarova raised a two-year-old son whom she wanted to ensure would have the brightest future possible. Unfortunately, prospects proved to be limited in her native Ukraine. But then she met Carl, a 50-something emergency room doctor from Florida, at a mail-order bride agency mixer in Odessa. "Here was an educated man from America, promising my child the world," Oksana said, an opportunity even her parents told her not to pass up.

    But after Makarova got to Florida and married Carl, things changed, Carl no longer the kind-hearted, affable family man he'd pretended to be. He set exacting standards for cooking and cleaning; started pressuring her immediately to have a family, going so far as to buy ovulation kits to keep meticulous track of her fertility periods; and dyed her toddler son's hair so he would look more like Carl.

    Then, in typical abuser fashion, he began isolating Makarova from the world, mainly contact with her family back home, and he used her son as leverage, threatening to have the child deported if Makarova did not tow the line. Carl was also physically abusive, once punishing the child so hard in a Walmart, social services were called. Makarova told them her whole story, and they saved her from marriage safely. But she knows she's one of the lucky ones.

  • Susana Remerata Was Pregnant When Her Husband Shot Her To Death…In A Packed Courthouse

    Timothy Blackwell met Susana Remerata through a mail-order bride catalog in 1991, and the pair married two years later in her hometown of Cartaingan, Philippines. Ten days later, after they arrived back in Blackwell's Seattle home, the marriage was over. Blackwell choked, beat, and threatened Remerata, who became terrified for her life. During their divorce trial, Blackwell shot and killed Remerata, who was pregnant from another relationship, along with two friends planning to testify on her behalf as they waited in the courthouse lobby. He was immediately apprehended, and just over a year later, he stood trial, resulting in a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.