You’re familiar with the warnings displayed on social media like Craigslist and Kijiji and most “dating” sites, and with good reason. Craigslist had a robber and killer named Philip Markoff. Match.com host to a serial rapist, Jeffrey Marsalis, who drugged and raped women. It took 8 years to find that creep guilty. They call him the ”worst date rapist in the nation’s history.” I don’t know about that one. What about Andrew Luster (appropriate surname), the heir to the Max Factor cosmetics fortune? He committed a series of “date rapes” wherein he photographed his victims in various stages of undress and during his sexual assaults again them. That sounds pretty terrible to me. And there are a plethora of others.
Anyway. Jasmine Nunez’s killer, Andres Ceballos, dubbed the Facebook Killer, used social media to hide her murder in a clever ruse that made it appear as though she was still alive. Quite simply, he hacked into her site and left messages that made it appear as if she was still alive for 15 days after he beat her to death and set her corpse on fire in James Baird State Park, upstate New York. Even her family was fooled.
Ceballos was the jealous type, but Nunez moved in with him anyway. He was a failed comedian: one of his crude acts was a long diatribe about masturbation to a silent audience. He droned on about such delicacies as dildos, baby oil, prostitutes and a pocket pussy. At one point he said “are you guys still alive?” He didn’t get it. The giggling female is Nunez, who is filming the pathetic video. I suppose she was trying to be supportive.
After murdering Nunez, Ceballos added daily entries onto Facebook about her false activities and wrote in the first person, as if he was Nunez. There have been killers who simply tell concerned friends and family that the victim has left him or her and moved away. Ceballos got creative and hid his crime via social media. It was only when Nunez wasn’t returning her family’s calls that they became suspicious.
When police finally tracked down Nunez’ killer, Andres Ceballos, he tried to flee in his vehicle to Virginia Beach. He left the car, ran on foot into a field and shot himself. Nunez is terribly missed. Ceballos is not. For all the good that comes of social media, there is a dark side too. Nunez’ sister, Melanie, posted her own Facebook page in her sister’s memory to raise funds. For what, I can’t say.
Internet homicide isn’t new. It’s a killing where the victim and perpetrator meet online through the Internet. That type of killer is sometimes referred to as an internet chat killer. Sometimes the victim is caught unawares and is lured into a death trap. John Edward Robinson is the first known internet serial killer to use this ruse. He received the death sentenced for the three murders that he was convicted of, then he admitted to five more.
Internet suicide pacts or cyber suicide pacts, and suicide-murder pacts are often found in Japan, although they are starting to occur in North America. Happily, they are relatively rare. The first known Internet-related suicide pact occurred in Japan in October 2000, with a later February 2003 incident, involving a young man and two young women.
In Missouri, Lori Drew posed as a teenage boy named Josh Evans on a MySpace account, and bullied 13-year-old Megan Meier into committing suicide. At the time, Drew wasn’t charged initially; no internet laws were broken and Meier’s death wasn’t a homicide. Instead Drew was charged with “intentionally accessing a computer used in interstate commerce “without authorization” and in “excess of authorized use”, and “using interstate communication to obtain information from the computer in order to inflict emotional distress.” She was found guilty of a “misdemeanor violation of the CFAA”, which was later overturned.
Then there are ‘victims” such as Sharon Lopatka, who arranged her own sex murder via the internet. She spent weeks searching for her killer. The man she wanted and found nicknamed “Slowhand” (whose real name is Robert Glass) tortured her sexually and then snuffed out her life, at Lopatka’s request. Lopatka was married. She left a suicide note to her husband: “If my body is never found, don’t worry, now that I’m at peace.” A shame he can’t say the same. Lopatka the train from Baltimore to Charlotte, North Carolina, travelling to her own death. Glass buried her in a shallow grave beside his mobile home. Lopatka was strangled to death.
That scenario reminds me of an Elizabeth Taylor 1974 movie The Driver’s Seat, wherein she played a schizophrenic woman searching for a man who would murder her violently with a knife. She found him.