| News |

Charles Daugherty was Mistress of the Con -- even though he's a mister

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Really, the stubble on that chunky female cheerleader should have been the first clue. But instead, notorious Colorado con man Charles Daugherty, who went by "Cheyen Weatherly" when he posed as a Colorado Springs high-school cutie, would go through many more identities and many more mysterious chapters before his story finally played out, as revealed in Mistress of the Con, a new book on the notorious crook.

The book delves into the fantasy-filled life of Daugherty, who started on his cross-dressing spree in 1984 when, at the age of twenty, he pretended to be an Air Force Academy student and stole a car from a Colorado Springs dealership.

His best-known caper came six years later, when he enrolled at a Colorado Springs high school under the pseudonym Cheyen Weatherly, pretending to be a seventeen-year-old transfer student from Greece. He played the part of a teenage girl so well that he even joined the cheerleading squad; it was only after stubble began to appear on his face that people questioned his identity. Daugherty was later arrested and sentenced to two years' probation, during which time he told then talk-show host Sally Jessy Raphael that he suffered from multiple-personality disorder and had been molested as a child.

But the shenanigans didn't stop there. In 1995, Daugherty re-emerged as Shannon Ireland, the alleged half-sister of supermodel Kathy Ireland. He made the most of this character, creating a "Dream Team" of fashion mavens who thought they were working for a professional model and photography studio.

Daugherty has had eight known aliases, many of which were linked with celebrities; he also pretended to be Shannon Trump, the niece of Donald Trump.

Westword has written about him numerous times, including Harrison Fletcher's June 8, 2000, cover story, "The Broad Was a Fraud."

Finally in 2008, Daugherty pleaded guilty to three counts of felony theft and a felony charge of criminal impersonation. He was sentenced to five years in prison, five years of mandatory parole, ten years' probation and 600 hours of community service. Daugherty served much of his sentence under house arrest and currently lives in Colorado Springs with his father.

Mistress of the Con, written by John McCabe and published by Never Say Cut Media, shares some of Daugherty's raunchy sexual escapades (fair warning: they're described very graphically) and details his fraudulent business ventures when he was pretending to be Shannon Ireland. Jay Soulia, Daugherty's former bodyguard turned private investigator, provided background information for the book, examining over 1,000 pages of police records and jail logs.

"In my opinion, it's almost retribution to all of the victims," Soulia says. "It shows his mentality and how he operated and what a crook he really is. Most victims will not come forward, simply because it's embarrassing, and that's what he counted on."

Soulia is still impressed with the illusion that Daugherty was able to create. "The strange thing is not the female he pretends to be, because she wasn't particularly good-looking, but how he sucks you into the game, with a deep breathy voice,etc.," he says. "He would have made a great actor."

Soulia experienced Daugherty's tricks first-hand: "On my birthday he told me to close my eyes and went for my zipper. That shows what he does... He's a good con man."

And Soulia isn't convinced that Daugherty is done with cons. He's currently investigating a lead that he thinks might lead to Daugherty. "He has already threatened to sue us, but that's fine because it will give us publicity," Soulia notes. "We're looking to make this bigger, and get out that this is really creepy."

Creepy enough to make a good movie. But "you have to write the book first," Soulia notes. And now they have. Colorado's seen lots of cons. Most recently, Michael Maher was accused of masquerading as a firefighter at the High Park fire -- and he might have gotten practice at the Lower North Fork fire. Read about it here.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.