Who is Julia Vie? Ross Ulbricht's ex-girlfriend opens up about dating a darknet mastermind wanted by FBI
Julia was a freshman at Penn State when Ross was a graduate student there in materials science and engineering and the two fell in love fast
President Donald Trump is reportedly considering pardoning Ross William Ulbricht, the founder and former administrator of the world’s most famous darknet drug market, Silk Road. Ross was arrested in October 2013 by the FBI while at the Glen Park branch of the San Francisco Public Library and was accused of being the "mastermind" behind the site, which allegedly became a marketplace for illegal drugs and other services. Ross was 29 years old when he got arrested and at the time when he created the website, he was dating Julia Vie.
Julia was a freshman at Penn State when Ross was a graduate student there in materials science and engineering. In an interview with CBS News, she said that they fell in love fast. "When Ross and I really started to get to know each other, it was intense," Vie remembers. "We were always hanging out... always doing these amazing things together," she told CBS News.
When Ross received his master's degree and moved back to Austin, Julia left school and moved to be with him. In Austin, Ross tried doing different jobs, including day trading and running an online bookstore. However, nothing seemed to work out. Later, Julia opened a photography studio called Vivian's Muse, while Ulbricht started the Silk Road website. "I remember when he was coming up with the idea," recalls Julia. "He said something about ... the Silk Road in Asia... and how it was a huge network... And that's what he wanted to create, so he thought it was the perfect name."
According to Julia, their relationship was "exciting and romantic" at the start, but later everything changed. Ross started spending more and more time on his computer "practically 24/7". According to Julia, she wasn't sure exactly what Ross was working on. "I wanted to have a normal life with him, not have him sit in front of a computer on a beautiful day. I'm a young, beautiful woman in a new city. Take me out to dinner!" At one point Julia says she sneaked a glance at Ross's notes and saw that he wrote that it was a burden to take her out.
Soon, their relationship fell apart after Ross launched Silk Road and moved to San Francisco, and told Julia he'd soon quit the site. "I was skeptical. We started talking again about a year later and I went to visit him. I was interested in rekindling the relationship and invited him to visit me back in Austin."
"I was begging him to hurry up and come to me, 'cause I just had a very bad feeling," Julia said. "I kept telling him... 'Push your trip up... Leave your computer at home. Just come to Austin'... And he was like, 'No, I've got to do some more things here and I'll see you in a few weeks.'" But before that Ross got arrested by the FBI in 2013. This followed a lengthy investigation by the FBI and other agencies, including the IRS, DEA and Department of Homeland Security. Julia believes Ross knew he was a target. "I think he knew he was going to get caught — and end up being a martyr for his cause," she said.
Ross had seven charges against him, including narcotics trafficking, computer hacking, money laundering and a kingpin statute usually reserved for mafia dons and cartel leaders.