When a person has a habit of exaggeration, it’s hard to tell when they’re telling the truth. You try to think the best of a person, especially when they’re fun to be around.
After a lifetime of deception and storytelling, one woman takes a massive deception with her all the way to the grave…
Big Fish in a Small Pond
Ann “Lee” Sabine always stuck out a bit in the small, former mining town of Beddau, Wales. With an accent tinged by the years she spent living in New Zealand and Australia, the recent retiree claimed to be a former star and model, on the run from her abusive millionaire husband.
Larger Than Life
With a colorful past, a penchant for outlandish tales, and a tendency to call everyone “babe” or “darling,” she developed friends and became a key part of the community. But her gregarious and kindly demeanor served to cover up a troubled past…
Ann’s mother Margaret was born into a respectable family but, at some point, took a wrong turn in life. For unclear reasons, Margaret turned away from her upstanding family and became a petty thief. Margaret abandoned her two children, Ann and her younger sister Susan, when Ann was only 5 years old, never to be seen again.
With their mother out of the picture, Ann and her sister bounced around between relatives, orphanages and foster homes. At one point, their father Roland remarried and the girls returned to live with him. But Ann, now 16, had become “rebellious and scheming” and was sent off to live with an aunt and uncle in London…
Finally a Good Home
Ann’s previously childless aunt and uncle did their best to spoil the teenager. They bought her outfit after outfit and encouraged her to follow in her aunt’s footsteps and become a nurse. Things seemed to be going well for Ann, until she crossed paths with John Sabine, a patient at the hospital where she was training.
John, a married 28 year old with two children, became enamoured with Ann and the two began a torrid affair. Things came to a head when Ann became pregnant, showed up at John and his wife’s home, demanding to know “what are you going to do about this?”…
Off to New Lands
John’s wife threw him out, leaving he and Ann free to continue their romance unhindered. The two married as soon as John’s divorce was finalized, then went on to have 3 more children over the next few years before moving to New Zealand before they had a fifth child.
Just Like Her Mother
But things weren’t exactly ideal in Ann and John’s marriage. Unhappy with their growing family, they gave their children up to an orphanage, abandoning them just as Ann’s mother had abandoned her. Also following in her mother’s troubled footsteps, Ann and John turned to petty crime…
A pair of deceivers, Ann and John were wanted by the law for a fraud they’d committed during their time in New Zealand. To escape justice, they fled the country for Australia. Once there, Ann tried to remake herself into the star she thought she deserved to be.
Quest for Fame
Ann became a cabaret singer going by the stage name “Lee Martin.” She began to develop some success but her fame grew in a less than ideal way when the New Zealand media got wind of the sensational story of a rising star, abandoning her children for fame…
Ann and John gave an interview with an Auckland newspaper under the headline “Runaway mum: I did it for love… Family dream went wrong.” In it, Ann painted herself as a victim of fate, claiming they’d come to Australia to raise money to support their children but were too broke to afford the plane tickets back.
Out With a Whimper
The media attention died down and so did “Lee’s” career. Ann and John quietly moved back to New Zealand and, despite what they’d said in the interview, didn’t try to get in touch with the children they’d left behind for a decade…
When Ann and John finally contacted their children, they wanted nothing to do with the parents who’d never been there for them. The couple decided to move back to the UK once and for all, setting up a beautiful Victorian townhouse in Reading.
A few years later, apparently due to some financial trouble, the pair sold the townhouse and moved into a public housing flat in Beddau, Wales. But oddly enough, shortly after they moved in, John was never seen again…
When Ann moved into town, she brought with her plenty of tall tales, blurring the line between reality and fiction. Her husband, whom she referred to only as “bastard” became an abusive millionaire. Her minor celebrity as a cabaret singer turned into a period where she was a huge star and supermodel.
Kernel of Truth
Along with her incredible stories, Ann brought with her some proof of her varied past. Her home was decorated with photographs from her days of supposed stardom. She even had a large “medical skeleton” that she stored wrapped up in a communal area…
Because of the Body
Nearly 20 years after Ann moved back to Wales, she found out that her body was riddled with cancer. A few months before she died, she told a hairdresser “people are going to talk about me after I have gone. I could be famous.” When asked why, she replied: “Because of the body in the bag.”
Sure enough, a few months after she passed away, people began to talk. As a neighbor was helping to clear out Ann’s things, she came across the package containing the medical skeleton. As she opened it, she was struck by the smell of a rotting human corpse wrapped in 50 layers of roofing felt and plastic bags…
The corpse turned out to be the body of the long lost John Sabine, whose pension payments were still going into a joint bank account he shared with Ann. He’d died of a single blow to the head with a heavy blunt object. Forensic investigators would later match the blow to a 2lb stone frog found by the side of Ann’s bed.
She Even Confessed
It seems that over a decade earlier, Ann had confessed to her crime. A friend from overseas had joked with her about her tumultuous marriage “I thought you two would have killed each other by now.” Later in the conversation, Ann said: “You know what you just said about killing him. I’ve killed him with a stone frog I kept by the side of the bed.” Just like the boy who cried wolf, Ann lied so often, the truth wasn’t believed.