The introduction of the internet opened a door for a slew of crimes which our laws are struggling to match. And while we await the legal changes we hope curtails these crimes, the evening news and newspapers continue to bring us stories with disastrous endings whose roots can be traced to the world wide web.
Internationally recognized cybercrime expert Jayne A. Hitchcock compiles some of the most interesting internet-related crimes in her new book True Crime Online: Shocking Stories of Scamming, Stalking, Murder, and Mayhem, which includes:
- The murder of Amy Boyer> by a psychotic, lovesick young man with whom she had attended high school. Through his online diaries, Liam D. Youens made it clear if he couldn’t have Amy, no one could.
- When a bored housewife goes astray online, she pretends to be her much younger daughter and begins a cyber affair with what she believes to be a young man but who is actually a 47 year-old married father of two. When the desperate housewife learns the truth, she decides to hook up with one of the pretender’s online friends and things go from bad to worse.
- Joanne Ruffner thought she’d finally found the love of her life in Michael Myers… until she learned he was already married. When she reported the military chaplain for his duplicity, he sought revenge by signing her up for adult-oriented websites using her real name and photos.
- A single Mom looks for love online. She meets several nice gentlemen, but one stands above the others because he is exceptionally kind to her daughter: Donald Scott Brunstetter. However, when this mother learns why her new husband cares so much for her daughter, she refuses to keep quiet and shouts her warnings to the world.
- When a high school student tries to help a friend out with a cyberstalker, she becomes the target of his harassment…for three years!
- When members of the TAPS Ghost Hunting team begin receiving strange, threatening emails, the FBI follows a virtual path to 51 year old Barry Clinton Eckstrom.
- The FBI thought they’d shut down a huge child pornography ring when they arrested Royal Raymond Weller, known online as G.O.D. but within just a few days the site was up and running again by a man known as “Son of G.O.D.”
- Germany’s Armin Miewes placed an online ad looking for someone to eat and was answered by Bernd Jurgen Brandes. Think cannibalism only happens in Europe? Think again and read about the case of Kevin Ray Underwood of Oklahoma.
- John Robinson would become known as the first internet serial killer after he lured several women to his Kansas farm with promises of a job and more.
- A sister’s date with a Swedish tourist would become a decade-long nightmare for one young North Carolina woman.
- When Phoebe Prince immigrated from Ireland to the U.S., her greatest desire to fit in with her American peers. Instead of welcoming her into their circle, however, the South Hadley, Massachusetts students would bully the girl until she felt suicide was the only way to make it stop.
- A young girl suddenly becomes the “ousted” one of her group and suffers a brutal beating, which one member videotaped and uploaded to YouTube.
- Social networking sites may be fun but they’re profitable for criminals posing as your friends.
- Minnesota’s William Francis Melchert-Dinkel trolled internet chat rooms for people considering suicide and then urged them to follow through with helpful hints for success.
- Mark Madoff could no longer live with his father’s legacy, nor could he cope with the insults and allegations hurled at him just because of his father. In public, online…the stress was everywhere. Only death would serve as an escape.
- Philip Markoff earned the moniker of “The Craigslist Killer” after soliciting women through the popular internet classified advertising venue and then robbing and murdering them.
These sixteen fabulous stories serve as a reminder that the internet can be a fantastic tool but it can also be an incredibly dangerous place as well.
With each story spanning an average of four pages, True Crime Online is a quick read, allowing readers to dive into only the facts without the dullness of the investigations and trials.
As a fan of true crime short stories, I give this one five stars and definitely recommend adding it to your reading list.