In 2001 Joy Lynn Bruce was a newly divorced 27-years-old with two preschool-aged boys. Not feeling the best, her two childhood friends picked her up for a night out. It was at a local bar that she met her husband Robert Howard Bruce, a man she describes as a tall Ben Affleck look-alike.
According to Marie Claire, a mutual acquaintance introduced the two that night, and despite him being 12 years older, the two began their relationship. He generously pampered her, trying to show Joy the life she could potentially have with him. However, things slightly changed and intensified when Robert, who was also divorced with children had to move two hours away in order to be closer to his kids.
He would drive those long drives to see his serious girlfriend who soon turned into his wife nine months later after he got down on one knee. Although his gesture was romantic, Joy said no because she had some doubts. Her mother did not like him, and he would often make rude comments about the way women dressed. But he was persistent and eventually Joy gave in and married the man she met at a bar. Even though they were newly married, the two lived apart until Joy’s boys finished the school year.
It wasn’t until the family was under one roof that things began to take a turn for the worse. Robert was no longer generous and they began to fight. However, he always seemed to make it up to her with random flowers and gifts. Joy finally stood up to her husband when she saw something so despicable it made her sick. As she was looking for a video of her son’s school play, she found a sex tape of her and Robert, but the issue was that she didn’t remember ever filming it and as she looked closer she realized that she was completely unconscious.
Once her kids were done with school for the year, Joy moved back to Albuquerque, ready to put the past behind her. However, Robert made that impossible as he quickly turned back into the sweet generous guy he was when they first met. He drove up to see her on the weekends, but that didn’t put the questions out of Joy’s head. She started to remember times when she and her husband went out and she blacked out. While at first she thought that it might be the drinking, she later became more suspicious because she would never have more than two drinks.
In September of 2009, Joy came across a newspaper with a front page headline that read “Cops Back on Trail of ‘Ether Man’ Rapist,” a case about a man who would stalk college girls, knock them out by forcibly having them inhale a chemical and then rape them. Shocked by what she was reading Joy began to compare this situation to her own. She showed him the paper, but he casually dismissed it.
A few days later Joy tried to call Robert, and he didn’t answer. Feeling panicked after a few more unanswered calls, Joy called his son who said he was with the police. According to Marie Claire, Robert had apparently set a bomb in front of an officer’s house who was going to testify against him in a peeping tom case. Luckily the bomb detonated and no one was hurt but now the police were questiong Joy. She spilled everything. She told them how she thought her husband was a rapist, about the sex tape and that she thought he was the Ether Man, the one who was raping all those college girls. Finally after a DNA test came back positive, Joy’s concerns and worries and questions were answered. Her husband was found guilty of the 2010 Peeping Tom case: He was an attempted murder and he was a rapist.
Now going through legal battles Joy was called to testify and as told by Marie Claire, this is what happened: “During the 90 minutes I spent testifying, I could bring myself to look at Howard only once, when I had to identify him. As I did, we made eye contact, and he winked and smiled. Nausea flooded through me. I was shocked by his appearance—the former Ben Affleck look-alike was haggard and skinny. He looked mentally ill.”
Joy is now living happily with her two boys, has a new job and has even begun dating again. Her soon to me ex-husband is behind bars and she is safe.