The Internet may seem safe enough, after all you’re normally in the privacy of your own home when online, or if you access with a mobile device, on what seems to be familiar ground. If you think you’re too savvy to be taken in by someone who is less than they represent themselves to be, remember these instances of people who were murdered by their Internet acquaintances the next time you think that meeting up with Billy Joe Bob or whomever you’ve been chatting with for weeks is a good idea.
Victim #1- Eliza Dragne
Eliza Dragne was a 30 year old woman from Romania who met a 29 year old man, Nicu Alin Cristea on Facebook. He claimed to be a humanitarian aid worker who helped orphaned children. He also claimed to be single. In actuality he was a newlywed and worked construction. The two began chatting on Facebook and one thing led to another and they agreed to meet for drinks and Cristea arrived to escort her in his own car. They didn’t go out for drinks as she had anticipated though. He drove her to a remote area in southern Romania and attacked her, brutally raping her, strangling her, and stabbing her to near death and leaving her in a field. He then accessed her mobile phone and logged into Facebook as his victim, deleting all of the messages she had sent to him in an attempt to obliterate evidence of their acquaintance. Fortunately for the sake of justice if not for Eliza, she lived long enough to inform police of the identity of her assailant. When police went to his home to question and detain him, they found him celebrating his one month anniversary with his new bride. Eliza died at the hospital.
Victim #2– Breck Bednar
Breck Bednar was a 14 year old boy, who like many other 14 year old boys was obsessed with video games. While participating in an online forum to discuss internet gaming he met Lewis Daynes, a computer engineer whose baby face never showed his actual age of 19. He enticed Breck to meet him at his home under the guise of playing games online together. Breck used the ages old excuse of “sleeping over” at a friend’s house to make his way from his parent’s suburban mansion and travel over 30 miles to Daynes’ house in Grays, Essex. Daynes called police later that evening requesting they come to his apartment as he had injured a friend when a disagreement had gotten out of hand and turned into an altercation with Breck stabbing Daynes with a pen knife. When the police arrived at the dwelling they found evidence that told an entirely different story. Duct tape was found at the scene and had been used to immobilize Dayne’s victim while cutting his throat. He tried to pass the death off as an accident that had happened while he was defending himself against Breck. He is now in jail for life which means he must spend the next 25 years locked up before he can seek legal release.
Victim #3- Christina Long
Christina Long was only 13 years old, but, at such a tender age already held many secrets that would dismay her fellow students and the nuns who were her teachers, where, at the Catholic school she attended, she was a good student, and leader of the cheerleading squad among her other duties as altar girl. She frequently met men that she met in Online chat rooms and had sex with them. Saul Dos Reis, 25, a Brazilian man who had been in the U.S. since the age of ten, was met in the same manner as her other men friends and I’m sure she intended for him to be merely another in a long string of sexual conquests. This was not to be the case. He strangled her and left her in a ravine near Greenwich. He confessed to the crime, although at first tried to pass it off as a sexual act that had gone too far in the throes of passion.
Victim #4- Ashleigh Hall
Ashleigh Hall was just 17 when she met Peter Chapman on Facebook and began an online friendship with the 32 year old man whose Facebook profile held false information about his actual identity. On the Sunday evening the murder took place, Ashleigh had told her mother she was going to be spending the night with a friend and when her mother tried to contact her later that night, was unable to get through until at last the phone was answered by a police officer. When she was found her arms had been bound and there was tape covering her mouth. She had been suffocated by the man whose profile picture had been one of a young good looking guy and nothing like the balding 32 year old who posed as a much younger man to entice women to meet with him. Chapman was a serial sex offender and eventually plead guilty to raping and strangling the girl.
Victim #5- Leigh Swanson
Evidently the dating scene in Saginaw, Michigan is not as viral as one might hope for because 45 year old Leigh Swanson was looking for love in all the wrong Facebook places. On the popular social networking site Leigh met and arranged a date with Steven Fabi who was 15 years her junior. Whether she was aware of the age discrepancy is not clear. However the date was arranged Fabi picked Leigh up as planned and she was only heard from one more time when she called her mother to tell her that she would be gone until noon of the following day. She never came home, but was shot and killed by Steven Michael Fabi . When she didn’t arrive home at the time she had specified her worried mother called the police and gave them the name of the man she had left for the extended date with. When police showed up at Fabi’s house to question him, he committed suicide. I wonder if all of his nearly 900 Facebook friends mourned him.
Please keep in mind that all of these murders occurred within the last 3 or 4 years. Three of these people were teenagers who one might not expect to have enough common sense to be able to determine if they should meet, other than their short acquaintance online, a perfect stranger in what could prove to be intimate surroundings. The other two were women who surely should have known better. Those two particular murderers must have been really smooth talkers or the women so desperate for companionship that they left caution to the wind.
If I still had children that were young enough or ignorant enough to be lured into any situation resembling the above cases, I’d sit them down this minute and make them read this article and give them a nice cold dose of what can really happen if you don’t follow safety precautions. What do you think? Do you think crimes like these are on the rise, and what is your opinion on meeting people from the internet that you’ve never met before?