Bad Business

After Ryan Sumstad was charged with murdering his wife, his secrets were exposed.

Bad Business

Montgomery County Sheriff's Deputy T. Ward caught the call: deceased person at a residence on Many Oaks Drive, a modest two-story in a quiet subdivision in Spring.

According to his affidavit, Ward arrived at the home shortly before 2 p.m. on February 21, 2011. He was met by Jill Sumstad, who said that she had found her sister-in-law Christie Sumstad's nude body on the bedroom floor. Standing at the door with her was her brother Ryan Sumstad, Christie's husband.

Jill explained that her brother had contacted her earlier that day because he was worried Christie, 34, was suicidal. They had a nasty argument the night before, and Ryan split, leaving Christie home with their three children. The next morning, Christie didn't answer her phone or respond to e-mails, so Ryan asked Jill, who lived nearby, to check on Christie. He had to know if she was okay.

The marriage may have seemed happy on the outside...
freespiritfoto.com
The marriage may have seemed happy on the outside...
...but Christie's friends say the couple was considering a divorce shortly before she died.
...but Christie's friends say the couple was considering a divorce shortly before she died.

A West Point graduate who played offensive guard on the academy's football team, Ryan Sumstad stood more than six feet tall and weighed around 250 pounds. He had minor scratches on his forehead and an open sore on one hand, which, he told Deputy Ward, he got from punching a wall during his argument with Christie.

The argument had awakened the couple's son in the middle of the night; he'd heard the sound of "yelling and things breaking." The bedroom was "in disarray, with a broken mirror," according to Ward's affidavit.

According to Christie's friends, Ryan Sumstad later told everyone that Christie must have overdosed on sleeping pills chased with wine. Her friends were in shock: After nearly 14 years together, the couple had been considering a divorce, but Christie hadn't appeared despondent.

The day after Christie's body was discovered, Ryan Sumstad, an IT consultant, created a Web site in her memory. He asked that, in lieu of flowers, friends and family donate to his children's college funds. Or, if it was easier, people could just make their checks out directly to him.

Christie's body first went to the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy, then to a funeral home in Magnolia for visitation.

Several friends who attended found it strange that Sumstad had chosen to dress Christie in a large blue turtleneck sweater, something she'd never have worn. A few were also puzzled by Sumstad's decision to have his wife cremated. But in the face of overwhelming grief, these were insignificant concerns.

Then, on June 20, four months after Christie's death, friends and family received some disturbing news: The Montgomery County District Attorney's Office charged Sumstad with murder. A warrant was issued, and he turned himself in to the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office the following day.

As of mid-August, Sumstad was unable to post a $50,000 bond. Neither his family nor Christie's would help. Nor had the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office presented its case to a grand jury, although prosecutor Joanne Linzer told the Houston Press that they would present their case within the 90 days allowed by statute.

According to a memo written by Montgomery County Attorney David Walker, the justice of the peace for the county's third precinct did not receive a copy of the autopsy report until June 13. Because the investigation is still active, Linzer said she could not discuss the case. So it remains unclear why Montgomery County officials had to wait four months for the autopsy report. It's also unclear when Sumstad became a suspect, or, if he was immediately suspected, why authorities released Christie's body into his custody.

For Christie's friends, the shock of her death was compounded by the possibility that her husband had killed her. And when word leaked out about how the medical examiner's office believed she died, a few of Christie's friends flashed back to that turtleneck Sumstad had dressed her in. According to the arrest warrant, Christie Sumstad had been strangled.

Ryan Sumstad always had grandiose plans, always had a big deal right around the corner, but it wasn't until after he was charged with murder that a few of Christie's friends looked online to see what they could find out about him. And what they found out was that people across the country had accused him of cheating them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, on sites like Ripoffreport.com.

A closer look by the Houston Press revealed that, over the past four years, Sumstad worked hard to build an impressive online persona, promoting himself as a major venture capitalist, creating phantom companies in order to separate people from their money.

Now Christie's friends and family are waiting to find out from authorities if Sumstad is a simple con man, a cold-blooded killer or both.
_____________________

Ryan Sumstad and Christie Mercer met at the military wedding of one of Sumstad's friends at the Woodlands Conference Center. Sum­stad looked resplendent in his dress blues. He caught the eye of one of the waitresses: Christie Mercer, a preacher's daughter and single mom with one daughter. She was a woman who always seemed to put everyone else's needs ahead of hers. She thought Sumstad was brilliant.

They got married in Montgomery County in 1998, and lived in Fort Stewart, in southeast Georgia, where Sumstad was finishing up with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The couple then moved briefly to the San Francisco Bay Area, where Sumstad was born, for Sumstad's new job with a semiconductor manufacturer. After a year with that company, he jumped ship to an IT consulting start-up called All Bases Covered. He was still with that company when the couple moved to Spring in 2001, but before long he quit All Bases and created his own company. (In 2002, All Bases Covered sued Sumstad and his new business partners, accusing them of stealing All Bases' software and client lists. Sumstad and the other defendants denied the claims. The suit was settled out of court.)

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25 comments
Guest
Guest

I knew Ryan Sumstad well. His dealings with IEV were very underhanded, especially when things went cold against the financial crisis in late 2008. I was personally involved with this transaction on many levels and lost over $50K to Ryan Sumstad.

When everything started to fall apart, Ryan really showed his customers. In the face of people, some good businessmen, some just hard working brokers, he basically turned his back and walked away with their money with no explanation.

While I am sure he didn't keep all of that, there were expenses, it was the way he did it, with no apology or remorse that made me see what kind of person he really was.

My heart goes out to his wife's family and his children, but as well I knew Ryan, I am confident in the end that justice will be served on a horrible person.

Guest
Guest

He never played football at Army. He wa cut during tryouts and was a manager for a while.

Kjgitrdun
Kjgitrdun

Weird ending. I kept looking for the rest of the story!

Matt Bradshaw
Matt Bradshaw

Bad JournalismThere is an old saying, “Don’t let the truth or the facts get in the way of a good story.” I had a phone interview with Craig concerning what I knew about Ryan’s business deals. I will start off the same way that I started off the interview. I have no information about the murder charges against Ryan. I don’t live in Houston and only talked to Ryan occasionally. Every time we saw Ryan and Christie, we got the Brady Bunch version. I never saw them fight or argue. I have no information as to what happened in Houston when we were not there. I am reserving final judgment until I hear the evidence. I have thoughts about the charges but I don’t have the information necessary to make an educated judgment. I believe that is what the courts are for.I was open and honest with Craig about everything I knew about the business dealings. When we ended our conversation I made a comment to him that it was probably not the information he wanted because it would not make as good of a story. Craig told me that it might be more of a story of someone reaching beyond their capabilities versus a story of scam and theft. Of course, the majority of our interview did not merit entry in this article. Most of what did make it in was vastly contorted. So much for journalistic integrity. I guess whatever sells the story include, the rest contort or leave out. I called Craig and of course he defends his stories (even the several mistakes that he made that are now corrected after I told him about them). I wanted to give my side, my opinion, my knowledge of what I know of the business deals and how they went south. I don’t know if this comment will remain on the site long but I felt the need to say my piece. I have included copied text from the article and I wanted to fill in some of the “facts” that Craig failed to research, include, or simply distorted.A West Point graduate who played offensive guard on the academy's football team, Ryan Sumstad stood more than six feet tall and weighed around 250 pounds.Ryan was in the football program the summer before our freshman year. He lost too much weight and never actually played football, ever, for West Point. Not a big deal in the scope of the article but I merely wanted to point out the lack of fact checking by Craig. It sounds much better to showcase Ryan as this huge football player that liked to smash the defensive line. Sorry…just not true.The couple lived check-to-check, and Bradshaw says he lent Sumstad money just so he could pay whatever IEV employees remained.This is a big distortion of the truth from our interview. I explained that Ryan and the employees of IEV had put a lot of their personal money into making the HSBC in-ground asset deal work. Several of the IEV employees made personal loans to pay for attorney’s fees and paperwork associated with the deal. Ryan was a little fish trying to play in a big pond and he was trying to keep the company together long enough for the deal to go through. I lent Ryan money while the deal was proceeding so that his employees could still get paychecks while they were waiting for the deal to close. I figured that it was a small investment in a company that I thought I was going to work with. Of course now I am stuck with the remaining balance of these loans that Ryan had been paying.

With the couple in financial freefall, Sumstad ramped an earlier idea into overdrive: In 2007 he had flooded online business-to-business publications with press releases touting IEV's completion of a $1.83 billion venture capital fund. Although it doesn't appear that the fund ever existed, the ubiquitous announcements branded Sumstad as a bigshot.The original article listed the deal as $1.83 million until I notified Craig of his mistake. He has since changed this mis-fact. The deal was reported on several newswires to include:http://www.wirelessestimator.c...There are several key factors that I mentioned to Craig but that he failed to mention in this article. I am pasting the email that I sent to Craig:Some other things you might want to look into. As I was doing some research I started remembering some of the names involved in some of these deals. Ryan's mentor was named Brant Wallace. Ryan had told me that Brant had the certificates, degrees, and experience to help in these big deals. Ryan had an employee named Jason Miller that worked for IEV in most of these deals. He is the person that got IEV the deal with Eagle International Communications. I have attached some links to show some of the business dealings between these two as well as someone named Sacha Spindler. Jason Miller and Brant Wallace are now connected and both work for Eagle as well as other venture capital companies. Some of these companies have current lawsuits against them. I don't know if this means anything but it helps show why Ryan thought he would be able to accomplish some of these big deals and why some of them failed. Have a good night.

Matt

www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us...Brant WallaceSacha Spindler

http://www.reuters.com/finance...Jason MillerSacha Spindler

http://www.hotstocked.com/8-k/...Brant WallaceJason Miller

http://www.thenewswire.ca/arch...Brant WallaceJason Miller

Of course, IEV would need closing costs from each land owner, ranging from $15,000 to $25,000 a pop — a drop in the bucket compared to the fortune the owners stood to reap.This is another misstatement of the facts. I corrected him when we talked but he did not fix it in the article. These were not “closing costs”, they were engagement fees. This is even explained in all the ripoff reports that Craig claimed to have read. These fees were collected at the beginning of the process, not at closing. However, IEV wouldn't be doing the actual lending, nor the servicing of loans. This was to be done by Principal Financial Growth, a company Sumstad created out of thin air.Once again this is another misstatement of fact. The actual lending company was going to be American Synergy. I guess all the research did not turn up that nugget. Ryan had set up American Synergy as a separate company from IEV because of the size of the deal. Once the deal went through, then American Synergy would handle the distribution of the funds. Principal Growth was created to handle the repayments of the loans. Every company is created on paper before it functions in real life. That is how business society works.The company's CEO was Sumstad's friend, Bradshaw.I tried to explain this to Craig. Once the deal went through, I was going to be hired as the Vice President of Principal Growth to handle the repayment of the loans. Since the loans never materialized, Principal Growth had no further function and I never worked for Ryan. Ryan is listed as the CEO of Principal Growth. This is another fact that Craig distorts to make the story sounds better. While Principal's letterhead claimed the company was in Wilmington, Delaware, all calls were routed to Bradshaw, a pharmaceutical rep living in Victoria.I am sure that every corporation headquartered in Delaware is actually set up in Delaware. Craig should look at a map to see that Delaware isn’t even big enough to house all of the corporations that are licensed there. Favorable tax laws make Delaware a prime state for incorporation. The second part of this statement is a complete fabrication on Craig’s part to make his story sound better. I never had one call forwarded to me. One investor found my home number and called my house. I told him the same story I told Craig. From this Craig somehow gained the “fact” that every call was routed to me. I still had a day job. I, like everyone else, was waiting for the deal to go through before I quit my day job.Bradshaw told the Press that Sumstad genuinely believed he would get the money from HSBC so he could make everyone rich off the gold. He wanted to include his West Point buddies, and all Bradshaw had to do was pretend to be the vice president of a company that didn't exist.The first sentence is worded very poorly. Ryan thought that the deal would go through. He thought that everyone, to include RNJ and the mine owners, would reap the benefits of the deal. The reason that he was looking for “West Point buddies” was because he was stabbed in the back on previous deals (see the $1.83 billion deal listed above). Ryan wanted to work with people he knew and trusted. The last sentence I guess I must have been riding a unicorn over a rainbow when I talked to Craig. I didn’t have to pretend to be anything. I assisted in the deal with the future promise of employment in Principal Growth once the deal funded. When the deal failed to fund, Principal Growth and my role ceased to exist. Another thing to note on the timing of the fall of this deal is the crash of Wall Street: http://www.scribd.com/doc/6065...Wall Street crashed in Sept 2008. This is the time when the deal went south. HSBC further documented that they were ceasing all loans and assets to the United States.One of those partners was a Florida man named Neal Jacobson. Jacobson shot and killed his wife and twin seven-year-old sons in January 2010. In a letter explaining his actions, Jacobson wrote: "I...believe that much of the correspondence Ryan Sumstad put out was false and [led] myself and many good people down a dead end path."The original article stated that the police indicated that Neal killed his family because of Ryan. This has since been changed. Neal is still on trial for the tragedy that he caused. He had many problems leading to the tragedy to include being far in debt due to mortgage problems. His own “suicide” letter talked about going from over $2 million in assets to over $2 million in debt before he ever met Ryan. Craig pulled one quote from the suicide letter to make his story sounds better. I include a link to the entire suicide letter: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/m...Neal Jacobson recently tried to claim the defense that he was on powerful psych drugs that caused him to go crazy. I think pulling one quote from a five page letter to make your story sounds better is not the best journalism.A week later, he went to Atlanta for InvaderCON, a convention for fans of an animated show called Invader Zim. "Headed home after 48-hrs.of fun, silliness, laughter and DOOM at InvaderCon," Sumstad tweeted.Just a note. Ryan’s children’s favorite show is Invader Zim. He went to the conference for them.According to Christie's friends, Sumstad granted power of attorney to his friend and former business partner Mark Flynn, who moved into the Sumstad home.It is my understanding that Mark Flynn, whom I have never met, did not move into the house but cleared it out. Of course if Mark moved into the house it would sound better for Craig’s story. Like I said at the beginning of this comment, don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.

Dana
Dana

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Ripoff Report
Ripoff Report

Frightening. Hope this guy gets what he deserves. Condolences to all of his victims.

Bruce
Bruce

Angela Denton comes across as a real cunt.

MadMac
MadMac

From the article, "Denton says she could see how a verbal fight between Christie and her husband could quickly escalate.

"She would ask for it, and he would be more than happy to give it," she says. "...Some women just push the buttons, and she was definitely one of them."

Wow. Generally, I try, (operative word) not to rush to judgment but I really hope Princess Not-So Bright here and this sweet prince can be together again, real soon.

Excellent story Mr. Malisow.

Upset
Upset

Sure trying to clear your name, who would want to be associated with Ryan anyway, all the others I know who were his friends have ran the other direction and some were in this with him.

Skyes2k
Skyes2k

I believe it's called a "ponzi scheme," Matt. Which side of it are you playing?

Brandy
Brandy

Thank you Matt...I too found the story to be littered with errors. Don't believe everything you read.

What?!
What?!

You sound real bright yourself! Having a bad day hun!

Vivian
Vivian

That shows real class (please note sarcasm), speaking ill of the deceased mother of three without knowing any more than what is printed in one article. So much for trying "not to rush to judgement".

Guest21
Guest21

You might want to keep in mind that the statement was given from his mistress. I would imagine she didn't know Christie, only Ryan's side of the story. The family did not give Mr. Malisow interviews. Probably because reporters tend to take things and twist them to say what they want for the sake of the "story", which, in the end, makes the reporting just that; a story.

mattb0312
mattb0312

Actually Skyes...a Ponzi scheme would denote that there were initial investors that made a lot of money at the expense of later investors. So I don't believe it is called a "ponzi scheme" by the very definition of a "ponzi scheme." I'm not sure what sides you are talking about.

mattb0312
mattb0312

I agree Brandy. Why let the facts get in the way of a good "story" when you came simply alter them or delete them to fit. This is journalism at its best. I believe the next story is going to be a crushing expose on how Elvis and Batboy are picking up hookers in Houston. Well one guy said it so it must be true. Wait for the amazing story!!!

MadMac
MadMac

Genius, did you not note the quotes? Or my lead-in(From the article)? Or read the article? I was commenting on the very alive (as of the date this article was printed) MISTRESS. Meanwhile, HCC offers adult literacy classes, might want to look into that.

MadMac
MadMac

I do understand the statement was given from the side piece. My comment is in regard to her (Ms. Denton, the side piece) incredibly stupid statement, which reads as if she's (Ms. Denton, SP) blaming the victim for provoking her own alleged murder.

MadMac
MadMac

Jane, point taken. Quotation marks, an up-front (first three words) citation note, a cut and paste section from the article-- you're absolutely right. I do need to see if HCC offers classes on composition, rhetoric, or illuminating Captain Obvious. BTW, (means by the way) what does the color of the trash have to do with the stench?

Jane
Jane

MadMac, I thought the exact same thing that Vivian posted...that you were talking about the wife. So, perhaps you should take some classes yourself on how to more explicitly say what you mean so that it is not misunderstood...like perhaps including a name with your clever description of "Princess not-so bright" Since you were including a quote from a woman, about another woman, kinda hard to tell whom you are being satirical about. On the other hand, I do appreciate that you were talking about the single white trash secretary that was ok with having an affair with a married man. Women like Angela should die alone.

MadMac
MadMac

I don't know if he (Ryan Sumstad) did-in the wife or not. Considering the history of crime labs across the country, I don't have absolute faith in the ME's report. But I do believe these two crazy kids, (the "widowed" husband and the SP) are meant for each other. They can name their first six kids Mercenary, Larceny, Immorality, Disloyalty, Infidelity, and Degeneracy. I also believe, as Dante wrote, AND I PARAPHRASE, the deepest pit in hell is reserved for oath breakers and betrayers.

guest21
guest21

I can agree from that perspective. I do hope, however, that when you say they should be reunited soon, you mean that she should join him in jail. Sounds like that is where he might belong!

 
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