Facebook wedding photos result in polygamy arrest

An investigation leading to the arrest of an alleged bigamist all began with a few wedding photos on Facebook.
Written by Emil Protalinski, Contributor

Police in Michigan have arrested 34-year-old Richard Leon Barton Jr. on charges of polygamy, thanks to incriminating wedding photos on Facebook. The man unfriended his first wife on the social network before marrying his second wife, but unsurprisingly that wasn't enough, according to Mlive.

In 2004, Barton reportedly married a Rhode Island woman, whom he'd met about a year earlier online. Not long after their wedding, Barton mysteriously removed his new bride from his Facebook account, and then vanished from her life altogether (he simply did not return home from work one day). Prior to his disappearance, the two discussed getting a divorce by letter and later by phone, but neither ever filed the requisite paperwork.

Out of curiosity, the abandoned woman decided to do some stalking on Facebook, where she soon discovered photos from Barton's second wedding in July 2010 on the pages of his friends and family. The Rhode Island woman contacted police, who arrested the alleged bigamist.

It turns out Barton originally disappeared because he'd been arrested for violating his parole (in 2000 he was convicted of home invasion and in 2001 for uttering and publishing) by leaving Rhode Island, and was sent back to jail. He was released in October 2009, and eventually moved to Grand Rapids, where he met his second wife, whom he told he was divorced.

Muskegon District Court arraigned Barton and charged him with polygamy, which has a maximum penalty of four years in the state of Michigan. He could receive a heavier sentence because he has a criminal record. If he ends up back in jail, he'll have plenty of time to think about changing his Facebook privacy settings, and how to convince his friends and family to do the same.

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