"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!"
Lesley Weslock doesn't fit the image of a private detective. She's 65 years old and spent much of her life living in a palatial apartment on New York's Fifth Avenue, jetting between homes in Beverly Hills and Vermont, and hobnobbing with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and singer Dolly Parton.
But when her husband, former shoe company executive Edward Weslock, walked out in 1995, allegedly taking most of the couple's cash with him, Ms. Weslock was forced to become a part-time sleuth.
She moved in with her mother in Toronto and took odd jobs to make ends meet. In her spare time she tracked Mr. Weslock's movements through Monaco, London, Zurich, Vail, Colorado, Florida, New York and Ontario.
This week her detective work paid off. She discovered Mr. Weslock was in Burlington, Ontario visiting relatives, and tipped off Halton regional police. On Tuesday, police arrested him on a committal warrant issued by Ontario's Family Responsibility Office, which enforces court-ordered support payments. Mr. Weslock, 73, owes his ex-wife roughly $1.5-million in alimony and another $3.5-million or so in divorce payments, according to allegations filed in court.
He is expected to remain in jail pending a default hearing. A judge could force him to pay the owing alimony immediately, work out another arrangement or hold him in jail for up to 180 days. Mr. Weslock was unavailable and had yet to hire a lawyer.
"I'm so relieved," Ms. Weslock said yesterday. "It's the end now."
She added that the arrest came just as she was about to list her condominium for sale because she can't afford the payments. "It was the 11th hour," she said. "I've been going through whatever savings I have and living so frugally you wouldn't believe it. It got to the point where I said, 'I can't remain here any more.' "
That's a far cry from the 29 years she spent with Mr. Weslock, when he was a rising star in the retail world and she was living the high life, working alongside him and travelling the world.
They met in 1965, while working together at a plastics company in Toronto. Mr. Weslock, who is from Iroquois Falls, Ontario was a senior executive while Ms. Weslock worked in sales. They were married within six months, taking their vows in Lake Placid, N.Y.
After a brief stint in Britain, where Mr. Weslock worked for a manufacturing company, he was recruited by Church's English Shoes, a high-end British retailer that catered to the likes of actress Greta Garbo, singer Frank Sinatra and Mrs. Thatcher's husband, Dennis.
Mr. Weslock was sent to New York to expand the company's presence in the United States beyond its flagship store on Madison Avenue. Within a few years he had established around 25 outlets and introduced a range of new products. The couple, who have no children, enjoyed the fruits of his success. They moved into an apartment overlooking Central Park and kept a home in Los Angeles and a condo in Vermont.
In court filings, Ms. Weslock said the marriage soured in the mid-1990s and she wanted out.
When she handed Mr. Weslock divorce papers, he left. According to allegations filed in court, he cleared out the couple's bank accounts, cut off credit cards and cancelled payments on the apartment.
Ms. Weslock said she was left penniless and had to work at a bakery to get by. She was eventually evicted from the apartment and returned to Toronto, after winning an order for support payments from a New York judge.
She began tracing Mr. Weslock through Monaco and got lucky in 2000 when she found out he had flown to New York to get a new hairpiece. She alerted local police who arrested Mr. Weslock at Kennedy Airport, charging him with failure to pay support.
He spent a few days in jail, paid $70,000 and told the judge he had no money and that Ms. Weslock was to blame for problems in the marriage. Then he left again during the subsequent divorce proceedings, which were finalized in 2002.
In a court filing, Ms. Weslock's brother, John Hutchinson, alleges Mr. Weslock called him several times complaining about Ms. Weslock. During one conversation he allegedly said: "She is going to get nothing. No man, let alone a woman, is going to make me pay."
Ms. Weslock kept up the chase. She seized a condo he owned in Toronto and traced his movements between Florida and Burlington, Ontario. Her quest gained international attention, with one newspaper referring to Mr. Weslock as "America's worst husband" and another the "toupéed tightwad tycoon."
Ms. Weslock got so good at pursuing her ex that she managed to find a new career. She's been hired as a private investigator by Trillium Resources Ltd., a Toronto-area investigation company.
"She impressed me very much," said Roger Wilson, who runs the company. "She is just simply relentless."
Ms. Weslock agreed. "I don't give up."