Pinellas Park marriage that began on eHarmony leads to bigamy charge

PINELLAS PARK — A 65-year-old Tampa man was arrested Monday on bigamy charges for marrying a Pinellas Park woman he met on eHarmony while still married to another woman, police said.

Police said Harold Savage met 67-year-old Nancy Sparks on the online dating website in July 2010. After a month of corresponding by e-mail, Savage flew from his home in Minnesota to Florida to meet Sparks. Sparks later flew to Minnesota to care for Savage after he fell ill.

The pair married Sept. 19 at Sparks' Pinellas Park home, 9301 62nd St., and Savage moved in, police said.

Soon, Sparks got a call from Savage's son, who told her Savage was mentally ill and that she had been lied to, police said.

She eventually learned Savage, who she thought got a divorce in 2000, in fact didn't get a divorce until Nov. 8, 2010 — nearly two months after they tied the knot.

Sparks told police she confronted Savage about it, and he told her he wanted to kill himself. Police were called, and he was taken to Northside Hospital under the Baker Act, which allows someone who is a threat to himself or others to be held for observation.

Their brief marriage was annulled in January. This week, Sparks learned from police that Savage had forged her signature to buy a 2010 Yukon Denali that he had tried unsuccessfully to buy for himself, police said.

In the end, Sparks did not make an effort to press charges against Savage, though she feels he needs medical help, she said.

"It was hurtful that someone I was married to was a liar. Everything about him was a lie," Sparks said in an interview.

"I guess it's buyer beware," Sparks said of online dating. "I thought I was smarter than to get involved with someone like that."

Sparks told police that Savage told some extraordinary stories during their brief relationship. He told her he flew fighter planes in Vietnam and was a prisoner with Sen. John McCain (and, as a result, a close friend of his). He also claimed to be independently wealthy.

Sparks said she knew the claims were unusual but rationalized them.

Savage's ex-wife in Minnesota, Nancy Newell, corroborated the claims. She told authorities that Savage was diagnosed with bipolar disorder several years ago and that he was delusional. She said it wasn't uncommon for him to bring home expensive vehicles and jewelry throughout their marriage.

Pinellas Park marriage that began on eHarmony leads to bigamy charge 07/19/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 11:59pm]

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