The Internet and social media may have brought us all closer together, but what if we're now a little too close to the wrong people…killers for example?
Peter Chapman ‘The Facebook Killer’, Tees Valley, UK
On 25 October 2009, 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall went to meet a handsome boy she’d been talking to on Facebook. She hadn’t received much attention from the opposite sex, and was overjoyed when 19-year-old Peter Cartwright took an interest.
But Peter Cartwright didn’t exist.
When she jumped into her online beau’s Ford Mondeo, Ashleigh found a much older man behind the wheel. The bald, bespectacled man said he was Peter’s dad.
In reality, he was 33-year-old Peter Chapman, a registered sex offender who’d made a fake profile with photos of a good-looking teenager to ensnare his prey. He’d been involved in countless sexual assault cases, and even served seven years in prison for raping two prostitutes at knifepoint.
Chapman raped and strangled Ashleigh in a lay-by and dumped her lifeless, gaffer taped body in a field near Sedgfield, where she was found the next day.
Peter Chapman was sentenced to life in prison for kidnap, rape and murder, to serve a minimum of 35 years.
‘He should be dead for what he did to my daughter,’ Ashleigh’s mum, Andrea, said in 2010.
John Edward Robinson ‘The Slave Master’, Kansas, USA
In June 2000, police discovered the bludgeoned bodies of Izabela Lewicka, 21, and Suzette Trouten, 27, stuffed into industrial barrels in a garage belonging to 56-year-old father of two, John Edward Robinson.
Both women had been missing for a year.
Since 1994 Robinson had been prowling the internet in search of sadomasochistic sexual encounters under the name ‘Slave Master’. He’d met Izabela and Suzette in BDSM chat rooms, promising them wealth, work and marriage in exchange for becoming his submissive sex slaves.
Two days later police found the bodies of Beverly Bonner, Sheila Faith and her daughter Debbie, also bludgeoned and crammed into barrels in Robinson’s storage locker.
Robinson had also murdered three more women before the days of the Internet, including 19-year-old Lisa Strasi, in 1985. In a bizarre twist, Lisa’s 4-month-old daughter, Tiffany, was raised by Robinson’s brother Don and his wife as the result of a bogus adoption deal set up by the Slave Master himself, who is currently on death row.
Lisa M. Montgomery ‘The Womb Robber’, Missouri, USA
Lisa M. Montgomery made contact with 23-year-old dog breeder Bobbie Jo Stinnett in 2004. Having seen the Stinnetts’ website, Montgomery exchanged emails with the 8-months-pregnant Bobbie Jo for weeks through an online message board for dog owners.
Under the name Darlene Fischer, Montgomery pretended to be interested in adopting one of Bobbie Jo’s terrier puppies as a Christmas present for her kids.
After arranging to pick up the dog, Montgomery arrived at the Bobbie Jo’s Missouri home on 16 December. Once inside the house, Montgomery strangled Bobbie Jo from behind with rope. She then brutally slashed Bobbie Jo’s womb open with a kitchen knife to steal the unborn child growing inside and claim it as her own.
By the time Bobbie Jo’s mother discovered her daughter’s mutilated corpse, Montgomery had fled back across state lines to her Kansas home with the stolen child.
Remarkably, baby Victoria survived and was safely returned to her father after Montgomery was arrested the day after the murder. Montgomery, dubbed ‘The Womb Robber’ was convicted of murder and kidnapping, and received a federal death sentence. She remains on death row to this day.
Michael John Anderson, ‘The Craigslist Killer’, Minnesota, USA
On 22 October 2007 a woman named Amy made a post on ad site Craigslist looking for a baby sitter to watch her 5-year-old daughter. The ad was answered by 24-year-old graduate Katherine Olson, who regularly used Craigslist to find work.
Though her employment success on the site had given her confidence in using it, Katherine couldn’t have known Amy and her child didn’t actually exist. The ad was placed by 19-year-old Michael John Anderson, who’d been trolling Craigslist for women to lure to his house…
When free-spirited Katherine arrived at Amy’s home three days later, Anderson shot her in the back with his father’s revolver. He then bound her legs, wrapped her in an old sleeping bag and stuffed her into the boot of her own car, where she bleed to death in the dark, clutching a pearl from her jewellery.
Police discovered the car and Katherine’s body after the Olson family reported their daughter missing. Anderson showed no emotion at his trial, and hasn’t offered much explanation for his actions other than ‘friends of mine thought it would be funny.’ He was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life in prison.
David Heiss, ‘Eagle The Lightning’, Nottingham, UK
German video game fanatic David Heiss, 21, met Nottingham-based student Joanna Witton through a gaming website she ran with her boyfriend Matthew Pyke, in 2007. After a few online conversations, Heiss, who used the screen name ‘Eagle the Lightning’, became obsessed with Joanna and bombarded her with emails declaring his undying love.
Joanna politely refused his advances, but Heiss persisted, sending messages like ‘You are my first thought when I wake up and my last when I go to sleep’. After he threatened to kill himself if he couldn’t be with her, Joanna urged Heiss to seek help, and Matthew messaged him demanding the German leave him and his girlfriend alone.
When the couple blocked him from their website, Heiss became furious. On 19 September 2008, he boarded a flight to the UK and made his way to Matthew and Joanna’s flat. Using Joanna’s online diary, he waited for her to leave for work at 7am. Heiss then forced his way into the flat, savagely stabbing Matthew 86 times before catching a plane back to Frankfurt.
In 2009 Heiss was found guilty of murdering Matthew Pyke and was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Lewis Daynes, Essex, UK
19-year-old computer engineer Lewis Daynes befriended Breck Bednar, 14, on a gaming forum, in 2013. They’d frequently play online games together, and chat through the gaming program TeamSpeak. In fact, the domineering Daynes was grooming Breck, for his own diabolical ends.
On 16 February 2014 Breck jumped into a cab, paid for by Daynes, and made the journey from his Surrey home to Daynes’ flat in Grays, Essex. On Daynes’ instruction, Breck told his dad he was going to a mate’s house, and later asked if he could stay overnight.
Next morning, Daynes made a chilling 999 call saying, ‘My friend and I got into an altercation and I’m the only one who came out alive…’
At the scene Police found Breck’s ankles and wrists were duct taped and his throat slashed. Further inspection revealed evidence of sexual activity, and that his injuries had been inflicted rapidly.
In January 2015 Lewis Daynes was sentenced to life in prison for the savage murder of Breck Bednar.
Armin Meiwes, ‘Master Butcher’, Rotenburg, Germany
42-year-old computer expert Armin Meiwes had fantasised about eating another human ever since he was a teenager. In 2001 he was trawling the internet looking for someone keen to be killed and devoured, when he discovered an ad posted by willing victim Bernd Brandes.
Meiwes invited Bernd to his secluded home in Rotenburg, where the two had sex before Bernd explained he wanted to die painfully, and agreed to be eaten by Meiwes. After consuming a cocktail of sleeping pills and schnapps, Bernd allowed Meiwes to cut off his penis with a kitchen knife. Meiwes fried the penis in oil and the two ate it together before Meiwes stabbed Bernd to death. Meiwes then dismembered the body, barbecued some body parts and stored the rest in his freezer, eating them over the following few months.
Dubbed the ‘Master Butcher’, Meiwes was found guilty of manslaughter in 2004, but was sentenced to life in prison at his retrial in 2006.