I would never want what has happened to the Hermans to keep anyone from intervening in a situation like mine. What is happening to the Hermans is extreme, but that was Zach’s goal all along.
I am being honest, when I say I fear for Michelle’s safety as well as mine. My ex-husband and his entire family are psychotic and they all feed off each other. Starting with his mother, they are all violent and will want to hurt someone. If things get worse for Zach, and they certainly can, rather than look inward, I have no doubt that they will have to find someone to direct their rage at. They can’t get close to me (for now) or Tom, but they might be able to get to Michelle.
Colin Smith, Zach’s Brother
Lynn Bruce, Zach’s mother arrest record
From January 2016 and onward, Zach continued his downward spiral. The Hermans stayed in contact with me and were always encouraging me to move forward. Zach’s threats didn’t scare them off, instead it made them feel for me even more. What I was going through really struck a chord with them. As many people already know, Tom had a turbulent childhood; he grew up with a single mom and an alcoholic father, who was in and out of his life. His father never paid a dime of child support and eventually ended his days in a homeless shelter in Cincinnati. There were other things about his childhood they shared with me and I wish they would be more open about, but I have to respect his family’s privacy. Of all the people who supported me during that time, they were bothered the most by what was happening. As hard as he tried and believe me he did, Zach could not manipulate or deceive them.
During that time, I was hearing that Zach was lying to Urban and telling him I was crazy and trying to frame him. I was not happy about this. I was also hearing disgusting things from sources inside the facility. Things like Zach was telling everyone we were getting back together, *I* was getting “help” so *he* would take me back…completely untrue and absolutely absurd. He was doing this to save face and his job.
There were so many things that happened during that year, it’s impossible to cover them all. The Hermans also had to intervene again, several times. I imagine there are so many times the Hermans wish they had never met my ex-husband:
- Zach contacted me from his office and threatened suicide. Previously, an edict was sent down from the higher ups that everyone on that staff was to cut off contact with me, so I had no one to go to. Once again I went to the Hermans for help. I asked them to contact people at Ohio State and report his threats of suicide, so Tom had to reach out to a couple of people on the OSU staff and asked them to put Zach on suicide watch.
- May 2016 – Zach wasn’t showing up for recruiting visits and a staff member who was really close to Tom called him and told Tom he witnessed Zach watching a video Zach had taken of a married offensive coach at a strip club. Tom was irate and called Ed Warriner and told him to block all coaches from socializing with Zach. Ed and Marybeth Warriner also wanted Zach fired and tried to reason with Urban about it. I never talked to Warriners about the abuse, but they knew Zach was a POS and Marybeth was always so sweet to me and would check in on me every so often.
- After Urban found out Zach was skipping out on recruiting visits and partying instead, he had a meeting with Zach at his house. Zach confessed everything to Urban. Urban and Zach’s family decided they needed to send Zach to rehab because he had spun out of control and Urban would have to fire him if he didn’t go to rehab. Zach skipped out on rehab and nobody every checked to see if he finished the program. I didn’t find out until I went public and everything blew up that he left rehab early. I do however, remember him calling me from a bar once he was home from Rehab….he was with his family. Who goes straight to a bar after rehab and chooses not to see his/her own kids? Better yet, who lies about completing rehab and also misses his/her daughters first dance recital?
Zach texting me from rehab
More Zach rehab stuff
Cincinatti, OH – UH vs. UC,
When the University of Houston was playing the University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, Michelle invited me to meet her there and go to the game. When Zach found out where I was going, Zach started raging again and started threatening the Hermans. I’ve said this before, abusers will typically try to isolate victims from anyone who can help them. They were the only people with any real influence in my life and because they didn’t care about his threats, it drove him to insane levels of rage.
Zach texts to me before the game
I went anyway. I met Michelle at the team hotel, rode the bus with her to the game and we tailgated with all the UH wives and some boosters. I had a really good time and of course they ended up winning. Below is a picture taken when the TV screen panned to us hugging after a touchdown…we really had a lot of fun and were so happy they won.
Phoenix, AZ – Fiesta Bowl, December 2016
One of the really dumb decisions I made during our divorce was agreeing to provide back up care for any bowl game if my ex-husband could not find adequate or acceptable child care. Zach reasoned with me that if I had my own room and the entire football staff, their families, all the players and their families were around, and we only saw each other when we exchanged the kids, what could go wrong? The thought of my ex allowing one of his questionable female companions to watch over my kids while they went to a bowl game for a week or even worse, not having any one to supervise them at all, struck fear in my heart and he played on that.
Zach was 6 months out of rehab and was trying to “win me back” by proving to me that he had changed and that he was getting consistent counseling. He was still so up and down and I was never going to be “won back,” but I was hoping for a friendly and civil relationship for our kids. I freely admit I am sometimes very naive about life and thought that it would be possible.
The Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix was the first and last bowl game I attended after our divorce. It ended up being the scene of a nasty confrontation between the four of us. The Hermans were also attending because Tom had just been hired as the head coach for the University of Texas and they weren’t going to a bowl game that year. Since they couldn’t recruit because of the dead period, they wanted to experience a bowl game as a spectator for the first time and they also wanted to spend some time with JT Barrett.
When I talked to Michelle about my concerns about going to the bowl game, she told me “don’t worry about it, you and the kids can just go to the game with us. Besides, Zach isn’t going to try anything if were there with you.” Famous last words.
The night of the Fiesta Bowl, the Hermans rented a driver and took me and my kids to the game. It was a blowout loss to Clemson and everyone was really tense. I dropped off the kids with Zach in the locker room and left the stadium with Tom and Michelle. The Hermans reserved a table area at the hotel bar with bottle service and we had a small party with several of the Ohio State coaches and their wives. Of course, I was invited and we were all having a great time. Zach had no idea I was with the Hermans and the rest of the staff that night and when he found out he was enraged and he was stalking us and texting pictures of us directly to me trying to scare me into leaving. See below:
Zach in a very inebriated state left the kids in his hotel room alone, stormed down to the hotel bar and confronted me in front of everyone. It really freaked people out and upset Tom and Michelle to the point that one of the coaches had to grab Tom and pull him away from the bar. Michelle got in between me and Zach and they exchanged some nasty words and he ran off before they called security. The Hermans took me back to their room because they were too afraid to let me go back to mine, so I stayed the night there and Zach started sending us texts that night.
Below is what he sent me first.
Me apologize, wtf???? What would I apologize for? Spending time with friends on New’s Years Eve? It was Zach’s parenting night and the kids were flying back with the team the next morning…. Those “awful people” were 3 Ohio State coaches and their wives and a prominent national reporter. Two of the coaches are now sitting head coaches and one is a power 5 head coordinator…so awful.
He also sent Tom this the text below. You can see how two-faced and ignorant Zach is. Did he not realize we were sharing our texts with each other? You can also see that Zach felt way more towards Tom than Tom did towards Zach. Zach was gutted by being cut off from Tom, but the sentiment was not exchanged. Zach really loved Tom, but Tom didn’t feel anything about cutting off Zach. He also doesn’t realize that I didn’t just tell the Hermans who Zach really was, I showed them.
Anyway, forgive the messed up screenshot. This was almost 3 years ago and I cannot retrieve the version they gave me without the ringer in it.
Finishing up Part III…there is really just too much to cover in one post. I hope I get the opportunity to finish it before I’m shut down!