Foul Play

Why is everyone out to get Randy Wichman?

For the record, Wichman sleeps like a baby.

"The only time I don't sleep well is when people come out of the woodwork and try to destroy me," he says.

Mark Gilliland
Three years after it dropped an investigation into 
Randy Wichman, the Post-Dispatch published 
a flattering article on him this past May.
Three years after it dropped an investigation into Randy Wichman, the Post-Dispatch published a flattering article on him this past May.

To truly understand him, Wichman says, one must take a critical look at his many accusers. They are, he maintains, vindictive people.

"My history is making agreements with people and not protecting myself," he says. "When I was out there [in Franklin County] I was so lonely, and I had people bent on making sure I couldn't survive or stay there," he says. "I'm an extremely intelligent person, and it's hard to accept knowing that you can be so stupid when it comes to people."

Wichman's run of hard luck baffles his 86-year-old father, Ernest Wichman. A kindly man of deep Christian faith, Ernest made a reputable name for himself as the owner of a Webster Groves flower shop. Today the company is in its 73rd year of operating under the family name.

Ernest says Randy's financial travails leave him scratching his head, though he believes it impossible his son would ever do anything illegal.

"There have been times when I just couldn't understand," says Ernest. "Every time he tries to get a business started, vindictive people from his past come out and slit his throat from behind."

His father says that Wichman recently called to express his anguish.

"We were concerned because he almost sounded suicidal. He said the same group was trying to run him out of business" recounts Ernest. "I'm certainly on his side, but I have to sift through it, too, because what I've heard is what he tells me. I do think that he's not a good money manager. He's a dreamer. People are always saying what a wonderful job he's done envisioning projects, but the problem is he doesn't carry it out to fruition."

Among the lapses of judgment Wichman has made in his life are four ex-wives and at least two runaway fiancées. Over the past four years, three of his romantic relationships ended in restraining orders.

"I met them online and didn't know anything about them," he confesses. "They turned out to be very unstable people, and I didn't want to expose them to my family."

Those same women, in turn, say it's Wichman who is recklessly out of control. They describe a man obsessed with his own self-image, the kind of guy who insists on driving expensive foreign cars even though he'd be better suited behind the wheel of domestic junker.

"He had to have a Land Rover," recalls one ex-fiancée, who, like several of Wichman's past partners interviewed for this article, asked that her name not be used. "It was used and a total piece of crap, but he didn't care. He just wanted the brand name." Wichman's other cars in recent years have included a Mitsubishi Diamante and a used Lexus LS400, which was such a lemon it literally blew up under him.

When Wichman has trouble paying his debts, these women say, he turns to them for financial support. At least two women blame him for racking up tens of thousands of dollars in debt on their credit cards. One ex-wife, Christy Duncan, says she was forced to file for bankruptcy after amassing more than $56,000 in credit-card debt to finance one of Wichman's businesses that never even opened its doors to customers.

"He's a complete narcissist driven only by his ego," says Duncan. "He has this tremendous sense of entitlement. He believes if someone is dumb enough to give him money, then they deserve to be taken advantage of."

Still, for the lovelorn middle-aged woman -- many of them just getting back into the dating saddle -- Wichman at first glance appears harmless enough.

"He comes across as so innocent and childlike," says one woman. "I suppose to a certain degree women are attracted to that."

"He has a way of making you feel special, like you're the center of the universe," says Duncan. "His entire M.O. is to come on hard and fast. He smothers you with romance and doesn't let you think."

Once inside his world, the women say, they are introduced to a mercurial conspiracy theorist who one moment might compose a love ballad on his synthesizer (one ex-wife describes his music as a cross between Michael Bolton and John Tesh) and the next moment fly off the handle at some alleged misdeed.

They describe a paranoid loner who, when confronted with his past, lashes out like a wounded animal. They tell of a man perpetually strapped for cash, with drawers full of unopened bills, constantly subjected to the harassing calls of the repo man.

"He always kept the packaging of everything he bought, and if he needed money, he'd pack up whatever it was, a stereo or television, and return it to the store. He called it his 'personal savings account,'" recalls an ex-fiancée.

When the women tried to break it off, things turned truly strange, they say. Some of them recall being bombarded at work and home with e-mails and telephone calls from Wichman -- often as many as 50 voice- and e-mail messages a day. When they tried to block his e-mail, he'd create a new account and continue the salvos. And when confronted in person, the women say, Wichman would launch into a tirade.

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