Karen Marx searched for him for nine years, only to find he was married to someone else

By Tara Fowler
Updated November 21, 2014 11:30 AM
Credit: Courtesy Karen Marx

Karen Marx is a believer in love.

But she never expected to spend nine years of her life searching for her missing husband, only to find him married to another woman.

When Karen, who is now 48, met Adam L. Marx at a Wisconsin carnival in the summer of 2000, she fell for him right away. She’d been married twice before and burned both times, but there was something about Adam that made her want to try again.

He was honest with her. He admitted he’d been married before, but insisted he was now a single man. “He told me, ‘You know after seven years you’re no longer married,’ ” Karen tells PEOPLE. “I was like, ‘Uh, no, that’s not how that works.’ ”

But she couldn’t resist Adam’s charms, and he moved in with her that fall.

“He wanted to get out of the carnie life,” she says. “He wanted to start over. I was willing to help him because I liked him. I wanted to get to know him.”

Adam legally divorced his first wife, and wed Karen on Valentine’s Day in 2002.

‘I Didn’t Really Trust My Husband’

Things started to go south almost immediately. “I came home to this note one day,” Karen says. “I still have it.”

After not even a year of marriage, Adam was moving out. “I was very upset,” she says. “All I could think was that somebody had reached into my chest and ripped out my heart.”

She didn’t let him get off that easily. “I cruised the Interstate 41 looking for him. I found him in one of those grungy, run-down hotels. I asked him, ‘Why, why couldn’t you face me?’ ”

He said he just couldn’t handle her anymore. (“But he could handle me enough to have sex that night,” Karen says.) So she left.

But Adam eventually came home that Christmas. Karen says it’s not because he was full of holiday spirit, but because he knew she’d be getting her Christmas bonus – some $5,000.

Still, Karen took him back. “I gave him a second chance because I loved him,” she says. “He promised he would never do it again.”

But he did. Karen admits that the years before he left for good in 2005 were rocky. “I didn’t really trust my husband,” she says.

So, why didn’t she leave him? She says she stayed for her son. “Adam helped him get a job,” she explains. “I didn’t want to jeopardize that.”

The day he left the second time, “something was just different about him,” Karen says. “He didn’t kiss me goodbye.” He didn’t bother leaving a note either.

‘They Treated Me Like a Crazy B—-‘

Karen saw her husband once, purely by chance, after he left, in the parking lot of a Kmart. She asked for a divorce. He told her he’d call.

He didn’t call.

Karen ultimately tracked Adam down in Viroqua, Wisconsin, through his mother, whom she found on Facebook.

“I told her, ‘I’m trying to find him because I want to get divorced from him,’ ” she says. “She goes, ‘Adam told me you were divorced. I went to his wedding last year. He married someone else.’ I was in shock.”

Karen called the police to report Adam, now 43. “They weren’t very nice to me,” she says. “They treated me like a crazy b—-. But bigamy is against the law!”

Adam was arrested and charged with bigamy, fraud and making a false statement on a marriage license.

When it came time for sentencing, he was fined only $730. “I don’t believe I deserve jail time,” Adam, who admits he’s guilty of bigamy, told Post-Crescent Media. “I just did it because I fell in love with a woman.”

Karen is furious. “That county is such a joke,” she says. “Bigamy is a serious problem. There are men out there like Adam, and women need to be aware. He needs to be held accountable.”

She adds: “I’m really upset with the justice system. I’m fed up. I lost my job because of this guy, I’m behind on my bills, I’ve got my landlord wondering where his rent is.”

She doesn’t even have the money to divorce Adam. “I can’t afford a lawyer,” she says. “How is that justice?”

Viroqua police did not respond to calls for comment from PEOPLE. A spokesman for the district attorney’s office had no comment.

For now, Karen is relying on her faith to see her through this difficult time. “I read the Bible every morning,” she says. “God has helped me through this. That’s my main person, right there.”

Want more stories like this?

Sign up for our newsletter and other special offers:

Thank you for signing up!