Philip and Kathleen Breen were married in Detroit, Michigan in the spring of 1988. They were both successful business executives, and together, they enjoyed the good life. They had expensive, grownup toys paid for by Philip's investments in the stock market. For Kathleen, the marriage was a dream come true:
"There were a lot of things that were really great about him. I think it was his sense of humor was one thing that I thought was really great. And we were crazy about each other. I mean I... really loved this person and I believed that he really loved me. And I believed that I could trust him."
Philip was the president of a highly successful Detroit mortgage company. His position gave him the authority to purchase mortgages for the company.
A year after his marriage to Kathleen, Breen purchased the Orlando Juice baseball team for $700,000. The team was one of eight franchises in the Senior Professional Baseball Association, a new league built around retired ball players. It was a risky enterprise, but by the end of the year Breen's investment had ballooned to more than $2 million dollars.
Kathleen thought the franchise put extra pressure on her husband:
"It seemed like it was something that he really wanted to do. It was important to him. But in a lot of ways I didn't like it because... he was just at that point running himself into the ground. And it didn't make sense to me."
Kathleen became concerned about her husband's mental state. There was a recognizable change in his behavior. He started spending more money and began drinking heavily.
Back in Detroit, the mortgage company where Philip was employed made an unsettling discovery. They'd been servicing loans that Breen had purchased from companies that did not exist. The company suspected Philip Breen of embezzlement.
Philip and Kathleen returned from a Florida vacation to their home in Detroit on Friday, January 5th, 1990. Kathleen immediately noticed that something wasn't right:
"He looked very upset. I mean he had a very funny expression on his face and it frightened me to see him freaked out like that... He had records piled all over the floor, papers were strewn all over... That evening, he revealed to me that he had somehow been the victim of people selling phony mortgages."
By Monday morning, Philip convinced Kathleen that he could straighten everything out. He left for work at around eight o'clock. But he never arrived at his office.
That night, Kathleen discovered that Philip had taken some of his clothes and luggage:
"I was really upset. The idea that he would've actually gone just was incomprehensible to me. I... couldn't believe it."
The FBI was brought in to investigate. They found that in less than two years, Breen had created close to 100 fake loans, netting himself more than $10 million dollars.
He had used the money to support his extravagant lifestyle. The FBI also discovered that Breen had been convicted of fraud and embezzlement in Florida twelve years earlier. Kathleen Breen was shocked to learn of her husband's double life:
"There was just this whole person that I didn't even know existed."
On the advice of her attorney, Kathleen Breen filed for divorce. But it was too late. The courts held her legally responsible for Philip's debts. She was forced to sell nearly everything she and Philip owned, including their cars, boats, Florida condo, and Detroit home.
For Kathleen Breen, the dream was not just over, it had been shattered:
"I felt like I was married to a monster from outer space. And it almost just sickens me..."
Phillip Breen has never been located.