11 Chilling Cases Of Catfishing And Online Chatting Gone Horribly Wrong
Since the early internet of the 1990s, online chat rooms, dating apps, and online advertisement sites such as Craigslist have become go-to spots for users looking to find friends and significant others - or to simply fill their living rooms with affordable furniture.
The surge in online chatting over the last several decades proves it's a necessity for helping solve people's everyday needs; however, it has also become a dangerous place, with online chatting leading to catfishing gone wrong and sometimes even murder. Check out the list below to see a roundup of some of the most chilling online cases to date.
After Bianca Devins’s Murder, Her Killer Posted Pictures Of Her Body On Instagram
In July 2019, 17-year-old Bianca Devin planned to attend a concert with Brandon Clark, a man she met through Instagram. Devin had a small social media following in upstate New York and had confirmed her meeting with Clark two months prior.
Their relationship progressed from acquaintances to personally intimate in the two months they spent talking online. Clark and Devin had become familiar with each other's parents and were known to spend time together.
In July, Clark and Devin planned to attend a concert on Saturday night. The following day, Clark began posting images on his Instagram showcasing a woman's deceased body. By 7:20 am, police officers were receiving calls regarding the disturbing photos, and not long after, Clark called the police station himself.
Clark informed authorities of his crime, and they quickly located Clark in the same area where Devin’s body lay. Police gathered information regarding how Devin was murdered and concluded that Clark and Devin began arguing during the concert on Saturday. The argument continued the following day as the pair drove back to Utica, NY. Clark and Devin continued fighting until Clark withdrew a large knife and killed the teenager.
Clark was charged with second-degree murder and received a prison sentence of 25 years to life. Utica police informed the public they were actively working to address the sharing of the images with various social media platforms.
Abby Williams And Libby German Recorded Footage Of Their Killer, Leading To His Arrest Years Later
In February 2017, 13-year-old Abigail “Abby” Williams and 14-year-old Liberty “Libby” German went hiking on Indiana's Delphi Historic Trails. When Liberty's father arrived at their designated meeting spot sometime later, neither Abby nor Libby was there. The girls' families reported them missing, and their bodies were located the next day in a wooded area near the trail, only half a mile from where they were dropped off.
Police checked their cell phones and found a grainy picture of a man walking some distance behind them, but they couldn't gather enough evidence to solve the case. Authorities did, however, release the images, informing the public they believed the man in the images might be connected to the two murders.
Police also released a video of a man’s voice saying, "Guys… down the hill,” hoping a community member may recognize the voice.
Not until 2022 was suspect Richard Allen of Delphi, IN, arrested for the two murders. The cause of arrest is not yet known, as the charging documents have been sealed; however, the grainy video and pictures captured at the time of the murders could be the evidence that led to Allen’s arrest.
A Police Officer Killed A Girl’s Family After Pretending To Be A Teen Online
In November 2022, Austin Lee Edwards, a former police officer was found to have allegedly “catfished” a 15-year-old girl into thinking he was another teenager before entering her home to murder her mother and grandparents. Edwards was a Virginia police officer who had worked for the Virginia State Police for only 15 months before quitting; a month later, he committed the murders.
After Edwards developed a relationship with the unnamed girl, police say he drove from Virginia to her San Bernardino, CA, residence. Edwards allegedly parked his car in the neighbor's driveway before entering the girl's home to commit the triple homicide. He then abducted the girl in his vehicle.
Police were quickly notified that a distressed girl was seen entering a man’s car while simultaneously being told about a fire at a local residence. Several hours passed before Edwards was spotted driving the teen, and a police chase ensued.
Edwards quickly crashed his car while aiming his gun at authorities. In response, deputies fired at Edwards, who was pronounced dead at the scene. The teen was rescued and did not sustain injuries.
A 26-Year-Old Man Killed 13-Year-Old Patricia Alatorre After Meeting Her Online
In July 2020, Patricia Alatorre was reported missing by her mother, Clara Alvarez. Alatorre’s body was found when someone reported a fire at a local park to police. When authorities arrived at the scene, they found an unidentified body wrapped in a red sleeping bag that had been inflamed.
Alatorre’s case quickly changed from a missing person to a homicide. Armando Cruz was arrested soon after the body's discovery, as he admitted to meeting Alatorre online, exchanging explicit pictures with the teen, and meeting her for sexual acts.
In July, Cruz convinced Alatorre to enter his truck after Alatorre expressed that she didn't want to ride with him. Cruz ultimately strangled Alatoree, duct-taped her hands, feet, mouth, and nose, and threw her cell phone into the bushes near Highway 99. He then took her body to the park, wrapped it in a red sleeping bag, and lit it on fire.
Not long after he was taken into custody, Cruz admitted the details of Alatorre’s murder to the police. After Cruz’s admission, he received 11 charges, including first-degree murder and contacting a minor. In 2022, Cruz was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Sydney Loofe's Body Was Discovered A Month After She Vanished From A Tinder Date
In 2017, Sydney Loofe, a cashier at a Menards store in Lincoln, IA, was murdered when Aubrey Trails lured her into his home after they connected on Tinder. Trail and his girlfriend, Bailey Boswell, allegedly planned to kill someone before they met Loofe, as they were seen at Home Depot buying tools such as bleach and a hacksaw.
A month after Loofe was reported missing, authorities found 14 dismembered body pieces in garbage bags along county roads in rural Clay County. The remains were later identified as Loofe. Prosecutors argued that Trial and Boswell connected with Loofe on Tinder with the intent to commit murder.
Trail admitted in court that he planned to murder Loofe a few hours before he committed the crime; however, he insisted Boswell was unaware of his plan. Trail also informed the court that before dismembering Loofe, he strangled her with an electric cord because she didn't approve of his lifestyle of group sex and committing fraud.
Trail was sentenced to death for Loofe's murder, while Boswell was convicted of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and improper disposal of human remains for her role in Loofe’s death.
After Leonne Weeks’s Killer Was Arrested, He Told Authorities He ‘Always Knew He Would Kill Someone'
In January 2017, Shea Heeley lured Leonne Weeks into a secluded spot in South Yorkshire, England, where he proceeded to stab Weeks 28 times. Heeley befriended Weeks after learning they lived in close proximity, and the two were seen attending a party together two days before Weeks's murder.
A community member found Weeks's body in an alleyway only 20 minutes after police received a call reporting Weeks missing. Prosecuting attorney Tim Roberts stated Heeley deliberately chose the secluded area, as he intended to harm Weeks. Heeley told authorities he had always wanted to murder someone and had pre-planned Weeks's homicide.
Police found more than 1,000 internet searches relating to murder, weapons, and serial killers on Heeley's computer. Authorities stated they might never know why Heeley was driven to kill, as he hadn't been diagnosed with any psychotic disorders.
Heeley was sentenced to life in prison and ordered to serve at least 24-and-a-half years before requesting parole.