“I thought there was something really wrong about it,” McGuinn said in an interview. McGuinn said that she didn’t believe Halligen’s spy background but that Dybczak seemed blinded by his charm and attention.
In a brief interview at her D.C. home, Dybczak said she and her family had been “devastated” by Halligen but declined to say more.
On the last Friday in April 2007, she wore a white wedding gown at a spectacular evening ceremony at the Evermay estate in Georgetown.
Dybczak’s family, who friends said paid for most of the wedding, came to town from Alabama. Halligen flew over at least a dozen friends from London, first-class, and put them up in suites at the Hay-Adams Hotel. Washington guests included Koch and Garrett, the Patton Boggs lobbyist, who was Halligen’s best man.
Security men with earpieces watched over the high-powered crowd of about 100 people, and guests were met by a sign in calligraphy telling them that no cameras or phones were allowed.
Wedding photographer Clay Blackmore said Dybczak asked him to shoot film only — no digital images.
“She told me, ‘Richard is very connected, and anybody wearing a pin on their lapel can’t be photographed,’ ” Blackmore said. “She told me ‘Richard is top-level and he’s a secret agent’ or something like that. I just bought into it like everybody else did.”
McGuinn said Dybczak and Halligen went “hog-wild” on the wedding, with a huge fireworks display and an extravagant dinner of lobster and lamb in the ballroom, where dinner chairs were covered with thousands of dollars’ worth of silk pillows.
On Evermay’s grand back terrace, Halligen and Dybczak stood on a carpet of rose petals as the minister read vows from a leather-bound notebook and pronounced them husband and wife.
What the guests didn’t know was that the minister was Harry Winter, a professional actor from Arlington’s Signature Theatre, who was hired by the couple to preside over an elaborate fake.
According to friends, Halligen told Dybczak just before the wedding — when guests had been invited and arrangements made — that because he was involved in undercover intelligence operations, he could not sign any public documents — including a marriage license.
It’s unclear whether Dybczak believed him. But rather than cancel the ceremony, she helped him arrange the show wedding. Winter said she paid him $300 in cash.
“It was a wonderful, beautiful service,” Winter said in an interview. “Nobody knew it wasn’t real.”
Nor did they know that Halligen was already married.
British records show that Halligen had been married 16 years earlier to a woman named Jennifer Darvill, and he was still married to her at the time of the Evermay wedding.
“He told me plenty of lies,” said Darvill, reached in England.
Darvill said she met Halligen in 1988, and in all the time she knew him, “I was not aware that he had any involvement with security, military or intelligence.”
She said he left her in 1998 to have an affair with another woman, leaving behind a “stack of unpaid bills” that she paid by selling antiques inherited from her father.
Things fall apart
After the Evermay wedding, Halligen was riding high. He spent the next year building his business. By early 2008, court records show, London lawyer Mark Aspinall — who was his connection on the Trafigura case — had invested $750,000 in Halligen’s Oakley International.
Halligen also received an enormous boost from the internationally known case of Madeleine McCann, a 3-year-old British girl who disappeared while on vacation with her family in Portugal.
In the spring of 2008, the Find Madeleine Fund hired Oakley International on a six-month contract worth just under $1 million. Halligen was supposed to use high-tech surveillance and satellite imagery and conduct interviews to help find the girl.
His bank accounts ballooned with regular deposits of $200,000 or more over the next few months. But Halligen’s carefully constructed life was starting to unravel.
Clarence Mitchell, a spokesman for the Find Madeleine Fund, said fund officials began questioning whether Halligen’s work was worth those large payments, and they terminated his contract in August 2008.
Aspinall, meanwhile, was becoming increasingly suspicious of what became of his $750,000 investment, and court records state that he made at least two trips to Washington to question Halligen.
By September 2008, the McCann contract was canceled, Halligen’s debts were mounting and his reputation was sinking. His relationship with Dybczak was over, and he was preparing his exit from Washington.
His corporate bank records show that in September, October and November 2008, Halligen drained $800,000 from his D.C. account and wired much of that overseas. He sold the Great Falls house. By November, his Washington bank account was overdrawn by $1,400. And Halligen was gone.