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Trial by Fire

Just call Ray Vinson a "cute guy with a dog"

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She got the company and he got the dog: So ends the long and contentious divorce trial of Ray Vinson and Deanna Daughhetee Vinson.

Late last month, St. Louis County Circuit Judge Michael Burton awarded Deanna full control of American Equity Mortgage, the Maryland Heights-based company the couple founded together in 1992 and turned into a multimillion-dollar enterprise. She also received 62.5 percent of the marital estate, including the homes in Creve Coeur and Scottsdale, Arizona.

Ray Vinson got the remaining 37.5 percent, along with one of their two private jets, the home at Lake of the Ozarks and what Ray's publicist, Susan Ryan, describes as a "a huge cash settlement." Judge Burton also granted Ray custody of the estranged couple's beloved Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Bogey.

"We're real happy with it," says Deanna's lawyer, James Carmody. He describes 62.5 percent of such a large marital estate as "a pretty significant thing [and] more than I expected."

Ray Vinson's lawyers declined comment, as did Vinson — though he did issue a statement on the front page of his Web site. "Though I disagree with the judge's decision, I'm very pleased with my financial settlement, which was far more than Deanna ever imagined. Thanks to the judge for looking past her deception and manipulation."

[For more on the trial, see "The Split from Hell" in the March 30 issue of the Riverfront Times.]

"Right now, it's good to be Ray Vinson," says Ryan. "He's single. He's wealthy. He's successful. He is thrilled by a lot of people who have cared deeply about him, friends and family. And he's got Bogey. He's a cute guy with a dog."

Ray Vinson's message board, though, tells a different story: "To all aem employees," read one anonymous post last week, "welcome to nazi germany, heil to the queen! You all ought to quit at the same time and watch her burn! ohh put a gun to her head!"

On the day of the judge's ruling, Deanna was greeted in the courtroom parking lot by Joe Adams, her boyfriend and bodyguard (she's paid $1.3 million for round-the-clock protection). With the help of six security guards, Adams hoisted a twenty-foot banner that read: "Free at Last."

Later, Adams presented Deanna with a gift: the rock an enraged Ray Vinson fired through the front door of the couple's $2 million spread in Scottsdale in the fall of 2004. It proved to be a marriage-ending melee. Ever the romantic, Adams had the rock gold-plated.

Reached at a Scottsdale golf club, where he was getting ready to play a round with Deanna, Adams says he still fears for Deanna's safety and will continue to protect her.

"What's really funny is that [Ray] continues his bullshit. I want him to try something. I'm going to teach him a lesson. And there's other shit going on. This thing is long from over. We're just warming up."

According to publicist Ryan, Ray Vinson is pondering the idea of opening a company that sells fireworks.

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