US man charged with aiding suicides online

24th April 2010, Comments 0 comments

A former male nurse has been charged with aiding the suicides of a young Canadian woman and a Briton through the Internet, driven by "the thrill of the chase," prosecutors said.

William Melchert-Dinkel, 47, who authorities said had admitted to encouraging the suicides of dozens of people, was ordered to appear in court in Minnesota on May 25.

He was charged Friday specifically for his roles in the suicides of Mark Drybrough, 32, who hanged himself in Coventry, England in 2005, and Nadia Kajouji, an 18-year-old who threw herself off a bridge in Ottawa in 2008.

He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Melchert-Dinkel admitted to police he posed as a female nurse under the pseudonyms Falcongirl, Cami and Li Dao on Internet discussion groups about suicide and depression.

Prosecutors said Melchert-Dinkel estimated he "most likely encouraged dozens of persons to commit suicide and characterized it as the thrill of the chase."

The complaint said he advised people on how to hang themselves and 'what to expect they could experience from it."

He "estimated he had assisted five or less individuals in killing themselves," prosecutors said.

Police investigating Internet crimes against children were led to Melchert-Dinkel by a report from a woman in the United Kingdom warning of "an online predator using deception to manipulate people to commit suicide."

Police found that Melchert-Dinkel was using various online identities "posing as a young, kind, sympathetic woman who worked as an emergency room nurse, and encouraging people to commit suicide."

Meanwhile, Canadian police also were looking into evidence that Kajouji made a suicide pact with someone in Melchert-Dinkel's residence before she threw herself off a bridge in Ottawa March 9-10, 2008.

Questioned by US police in January 2009, Melchert-Dinkel admitting to using the online names Cami, Li Dao and Falcongirl, and telling people he was a female nurse.

"He stated he had made a suicide pact with a woman from Ottawa, Canada and explained the woman had jumped into a frozen river," they said in a statement.

Police also asked Melchert-Dinkel about Drybourgh's suicide by hanging on July 27, 2005. The former nurse said he was aware of reports that "Li Dao" had assisted Drybourgh in killing himself, prosecutors said.

"He also confirmed he had claimed to have watched a party in England hang themselves via web cam. However, he denied watching anyone's suicide, though in his suicide pacts with others he would agree to view through a web cam."

The suspect acknowledged entering into 10 or 11 suicide pacts online with individuals all over the world, according to prosecutors.

He said he stopped after December 2008 "due to moral, ethical and legal reasons."

© 2010 AFP

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