July 21, 2010— -- Bobbi Ann Finley has been dubbed the "Military Mistress" for breaking the hearts of at least a dozen men, allegedly targeting military servicemen before draining many of their bank accounts and leaving them in financial ruin.
In an exclusive jailhouse interview with ABC News' 20/20 co-anchor Chris Cuomo, Finley, 34, admits that she may have destroyed some lives but claims she is also a victim, blaming a hardluck upbringing for her string of doomed relationships.
"I wasn't running a con," Finley said during a testy interview in an Alabama jail where she is being held on felony theft charges. "I wanted protection, the protection that I should have had growing up . . . I married these guys I couldn't love."
For almost two decades, Finley criss-crossed the country, allegedly preying on military bases where servicemen say she lied to them from the start, claiming to be everything from a wounded veteran of the Iraq war to the wealthy daughter of a decorated general.
All the men say Finley knew how to put on the charm and reel them in, describing their initial attraction to her. "She was smart, funny, witty, beautiful," Jacob Anderson, one of Finley's ex-husbands, told Cuomo. "I mean, you'd come home. . you didn't need to ask one . . . it was clean. Our food was cooked and the food was excellent. Dishes were done, house was immaculate. You were going like 'Wow, I couldn't ask for anybody better.'"
Along the way, Finley not only collected husbands but also confirms giving birth to 9 children by as many men, some of whom claim they were never told that they were fathers before their children were adopted or given to other guardians, a claim Finley denies.
"The devil himself is a pot of gold compared to her," said Shane Cheesman, one of Finley's ex-husbands whose marriage was annulled after a week, who believes he is the father of one of her children. "She has no heart. She has no feelings, no remorse."
Finley's alleged scams began to unravel in 2004 when she crossed paths with Rodney Wegg, a young reservist stationed in Texas who immediately fell for the woman he says was "fun loving and everything a man wants." His impression of her changed when he says he came home from a weekend away and found that Finley had wreaked havoc on his checking account.
Finley would soon learn that she had met her match in Rodney's mother, Katie Wegg, who began a 6-year-crusade to bring Finley to justice. Determined to piece together Finley's past, Wegg contacted dozens of alleged victims across the country. She told Cuomo that her investigation revealed an extensive history of fraud and even a case of serial bigamy. Court documents reveal she has served multiple sentences but Wegg alleges she hasn't served enough time. But the worst offense of all, Wegg said, was the discovery that Finley gave birth to a child that Wegg is convinced is her grandson. And, she claims, Rodney isn't the only one.
"[Rodney] had a child out there and he wanted to know where this child was. And he wanted his child," Katie Wegg told 20/20. "..these guys didn't know they had children."
In 2007, Finley served an eight month sentence for forging checks to Rodney's account.
Finley was most recently arrested last month in New Orleans for allegedly skipping out on a pricey dinner tab. She was extradited to Alabama, which was one of several states with warrants for her arrest, and now awaits trial.
Many of her alleged victims say she deserves to stay in prison for the rest of her life. Chris Cuomo brought together 9 former husbands and fiancées for an exclusive group interview in which they shared their stories of emptied bank accounts and broken hearts.
"I mean, I'm angry. I'm sad. I'm lonely. . . because of what Bobbi did," Jeffrey Dietiker, one of Finley's ex-husbands, told Cuomo. "And now I'm paying for it, with every relationship I get in. . . trust was everything I had, and now I don't."
Finley told Cuomo that while she may be "the most hated woman in America," she believes the title is undeserved. While she admitted that she has a history of writing bad checks, she insisted she is not a con woman, bigamist or bad person.
" I was looking for love, I was looking for understanding, I was looking for someone to say, you know, it is going to be ok," Finley explained. "In many of the cases, you look and you started out and you get married and you're thinking, oh, 'I'm going to live happily ever after.' And then you realize as soon it's done. . . it was a mistake," she said.
But the men say her explanation is just another con.
"She's a domestic terrorist," said ex-husband Ben Giles "As a military member, we were sworn to protect this country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. She is targeting military members. She's destroying their lives."