This is the first Thanksgiving host Alex Bates has served as she and her husband, Jay, joke about one of their guests, 58-year-old Paul Stapleton.
“I’m really hoping Paul stays,” Alex said to Jay. “We’re getting really fond of him.”
Stapleton, a British man, accepted a dating profile from Alex Bates in February 2017, she said. The message said he would be a former marine and bomb disposal expert in Afghanistan, the last 14 years of which he spent in Helmand province. That was the start of a bizarre encounter that took Alex’s family by surprise when Stapleton showed up at their Thanksgiving dinner Tuesday.
“We just didn’t expect to see him at our house,” Alex said.
Stapleton invited all his friends and family, the Bates family included, over for dinner. By the end of the night, both sides left laughing as the night began with Stapleton on Alex’s sofa, posing for a photo session that ended with Stapleton in a white T-shirt and jeans. He then started dancing and entertaining his guests.
“He started saying to us how polite he was, how he liked our daughter so much and she did not seem to be feeling well and that she could not go to the restroom. He just kept taking pictures of her,” Alex said.
He then reportedly asked Alex if they could join him outside. That’s when he jumped a fence, ran to the back of the house and began dancing.
After his guests left, Stapleton climbed into Alex’s car and started driving. She called the police.
As he headed home, the Bates family questioned why he was in the area at 11 p.m. at night.
“He started to say things like he was playing a romantic role in his friends’ lives,” Alex said. “He would give them dates. He would go out with the boys and party with them.”
The Bates family and the police continued to track him down, only to find out Stapleton had got himself an alias, Alex said.
“I was so annoyed. I wanted answers,” she said. “I didn’t realize what a vulnerable guy he was and that he would continue to go out with the boys and do stuff like that. He was very childish.”
Ultimately, Stapleton arrived at Alex’s house around 2 a.m. She didn’t want to serve him Thanksgiving dinner until he was through with his chores. She then cornered him in the kitchen and gave him a snack.
“I tried to explain the situation, that it was a big issue,” Alex said. “He said to me, ‘Do you want to go?’”
Stapleton took the bait and went outside.
“I got him out of the car, and I said, ‘It’s very important that we have a really normal conversation,’” Alex said.
‘This has made us closer, more amicable.’ – Alex Bates
Stapleton then allegedly ran into the backyard.
“I told him we were going to find him and he broke down and got up and started walking towards me and told me to get the hell out of his face,” Alex said.
Alex got out of the car and began to chase him. That’s when he allegedly jumped a fence into her yard. Alex said the pair ran down the short driveway in opposite directions and finally came to an agreement. Stapleton apologized and told her he hoped they could find time for a date sometime.
“He explained to me that the guy who is coming here in three months is an army man,” Alex said. “His insurance said he would have to have a blood test done because he’d taken any kind of drugs and alcohol, which he has never taken. We agreed that we would pay for the blood test, that he could come over at any time and they could take the blood. He said he would not have to have a blood test.”
Stapleton said he got a bigger night-time traffic ticket for his time in Alex’s yard.
“The cops are all kind of looking at the camera and didn’t really seem to have any concerns about it, so I thought this was a pretty good deal,” Alex said.
“When we got back from that police encounter, we were fine,” Alex said. “We went out to eat with him and everybody had a good time. It felt right. I don’t think that there is anything else he could have possibly done at this point.”
Alex said she and Jay had planned to tie the knot in April.
“This has made us closer, more amicable,” she said. “We have become close friends. But for what he did, I think he got a lot of support from a lot of people.