As Megan Montgomery wrote down her thoughts in her gratitude journal, she also shared her dreams for a different life.
They were heartbreakingly simple. “I hope I find a man in the future who won’t make me do things I don’t want to,” Megan wrote.
Megan’s marriage to her husband Jason McIntosh, 46, had turned sour after just a year. Even as Megan was writing in her journal about the new future she was trying to carve for herself, she was recovering from a gunshot wound she’d suffered during a violent scuffle with Jason at their home.
Megan, 31, wanted freedom from her toxic relationship and now things had come to a head, she believed she could finally escape her abusive husband.
“I am strong,” Megan wrote, over and over, as though she was trying to convince herself.
Megan and Jason had married in February 2018, and they lived in Mountain Brook, Alabama. Jason was a police officer while Megan was a writer for the UAB School of Nursing. They made a picture-perfect couple on social media. Megan loved fitness, fashion and animals. She volunteered at an animal charity and lit up a room with her smile.
Jason would tell people that Megan was the centre of his world – but his love had turned into a disturbing obsession. By the time Megan realised she was in an abusive relationship, things had turned violent.
During an argument on 23 February, 2019, Megan and Jason had a physical altercation and as they fought, Jason’s handgun went off. Megan was shot in the arm. Jason called 911 and Megan was taken to hospital. Her injuries weren’t life-threatening but Megan was terrified at how things had escalated.
She filed a restraining order against her husband in March and Jason was suspended from work. Although Megan wanted justice, the police department decided that Megan had been the “aggressor” and she made the decision not to go ahead and press charges, so the case ended without prosecution.
However, Jason resigned from work and Megan announced their marriage was over. As she recovered from her injuries, she found a new place to live and adopted a kitten. Megan was frightened of Jason but she was determined to get out of her marriage and use her experience to help others.
Man hid wife's body in freezer for two years – and almost got away with murder
She posted on social media that she had started writing a book to help victims of domestic abuse identify warning signs of controlling relationships and ways to break free. It seemed that Megan was refusing to suffer in silence any more.
Megan also shared videos and audio recordings on social media of Jason’s threatening behaviour. One post showed Jason holding
a gun and in another he talked about committing a mass shooting.
In the months after Megan had been shot, Jason continued to ignore the restraining order against him and would turn up where Megan was. In a string of text messages that she also posted on social media, the estranged couple had a conversation about Jason showing up uninvited.
Jason gave the impression he thought Megan would approve. He wrote, “I figure you would have thought last night was really hot. Such a dominant/alpha move to drive down there and snatch you up and bring you home.”
Megan called him her “own personal stalker” which Jason agreed to be true.
“I will never let you go,” he wrote. “And guys will finally figure out that it’s just not worth it.”
She replied, “You have ruined my life… in every way possible.” His response suggested he was baffled by the accusation.
Megan explained to her followers that she had posted the conversation online to show women how to recognise abusive behaviour.
In May, following another altercation with Jason in which the police were called, Megan filed for divorce, but it was far from over.
Just days later, Jason was taken into custody again after an argument turned physical. Megan suffered scratches and bruises. Jason was arrested but released on bail. Leaving Jason was proving more difficult than she could ever have imagined.
On 30 November 2019, Megan was in the Courtyard 280 Oyster Bar and Grill in Birmingham, Alabama with friends. She’d been to an American football game earlier that day and had met some people who’d invited her for a drink in the bar afterwards. They didn’t know about Megan’s problems with Jason and she escaped the nightmare for a few hours.
While Megan was sitting at the table chatting, Jason walked in. He put his hand on her shoulder and the other on her neck.
“That’s my wife,” he said. “She’s going with me.”
Those around her saw the fear in Megan’s eyes but they believed it was simply because she’d been caught out by her husband for being somewhere she shouldn’t be. They had no idea of the horrific experiences she’d endured.
Jason and Megan were seen leaving at around 10.30pm and were pictured on security cameras. Megan had left her keys and her credit cards at the bar – along with her car.
Despite the restraining order, Megan didn’t try to escape from Jason. Perhaps she was trying to protect the people she was with. It was the last time anyone saw Megan.
Early the next morning, during a routine patrol, police discovered the body of a woman face down in a pool of blood in the parking lot of an athletics complex by a high school. She’d been beaten and shot several times in the back and the head. There was no ID on the body so she wasn’t identified straight away.
But Megan’s family, who had reported her missing, saw reports of a body being found and got in touch. They were devastated to discover the murdered woman was Megan.
With his history of violence, and the fact that he was seen leaving with Megan, Jason was identified as a suspect. An alert was put out and the public were warned that he might be armed. The next day, Jason surrendered himself to police.
Initially, Jason was charged with capital murder – which had the potential for the death penalty. But he made a plea deal and in March this year, Jason pleaded guilty to murder. As part of the agreement, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison and told he would be eligible for parole after 15 years. He waived any right to appeal.
Megan’s family spoke about the impact of her brutal death during the April sentencing. Megan’s mother, Susann Montgomery-Clark, talked about how Jason’s abusive ways had destroyed her daughter long before her death.
“Megan began dying on 23 July 2017 on their first date,” she said.
“Like a frog in a pot of boiling water, you gradually turn up the heat to boiling and the frog doesn’t know they’re dying. That’s what happened to Megan. That’s what domestic violence does. Anyone who met her after their first date didn’t know the real Megan that he destroyed long before he killed her.”
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Susann said that Megan hadn’t been raised around violent people and didn’t have the ability to address it early enough.
Megan’s sister Meredith said their family were broken without her. “The day my sister died a part of me died. It left a hole that can never be filled,” she said. “She was brainwashed and manipulated and abused and now she’s dead.”
Megan’s mum and stepfather have set up the Megan Montgomery Domestic Violence Prevention Fund to educate students in high school and college to stop domestic violence before it happens and fulfil Megan’s wish to help other women suffering abuse.
As hard as she tried, Megan couldn’t escape her relationship, but her loved ones hope that her legacy will be to save others.
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