The Internet can often seem harmless, with its never-ending supply of cat videos, memes, and other distractions. But there is a dark side to all this connectivity. In some cases, social media inspired online fights that resulted in offline death. Whether those killings were committed by people who couldn't bear being humiliated publicly, or they simply snapped, these murders caused by social media are chilling.
Some social media feuds that led to murder were sparked by fights about lovers, online threats, or even a simple $20 debt. Tragically, the victims in these cases were often very young; many were teenagers. The jealousy and hurt egos of the individuals engaging in online behaviors that turned murderous make these stories all the more harrowing.
A fight about a boy on Facebook led a 16-year-old to kill her rival in Scranton, PA, in 2016. Cathleen Boyer sparred with Kayla VanWert, the mother of her lover's son, on the social media site. The two agreed to meet, but during the fight, Boyer stabbed VanWert. She later died at a hospital.
After the fight, Boyer took to Facebook again to say that she had "no remorse" for the stabbing. She was eventually arrested and charged with homicide.
After moving to Mountain City, TN, and struggling to make friends, Jenelle Potter finally seemed to settle into a group that she fit in with. But her Facebook friend Billie Jean Hayworth was jealous that Potter had a crush on her boyfriend (and father of her child) Billy Payne. An online battle broke out, with Potter and Payne's cousin Jamie Curd - who also happened to be sleeping with Potter - pitted against his cousin and Hayworth.
Eventually, the Facebook threats and arguments ended when Potter, Hayworth, and Payne unfriended each other. The fight was far from resolved, though. On January 31, 2012, police found Hayworth and Payne shot in the head, with Payne's throat cut. The couple's child was in Hayworth's arms, alive.
A police investigation led to the arrest of Potter's father Marvin. In an interrogation, he told police a CIA agent told him to commit the crimes. Police later discovered that the agent was really his daughter, who had used a fake online identity to provoke her father into committing the murders. The authorities arrested Potter and her mother Barbara for making Marvin murder Hayworth and Payne. Potter's lover Curd was also charged for his role in the killings, and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Potter and her mother were given life in prison, and Marvin received a double life sentence.
In February 2016, Javhonn Frazier tweeted that his friend Jerrold Parker couldn't rap. Another young man, Devin Leggett, retweeted Frazier, and Parker arranged for the two to meet to end the feud with a fight.
The two teenagers began fist-fighting in the middle of an Indianapolis street, and at some point Leggett pulled out a gun and shot Parker. Frazier then put Parker in the front seat of his car and sought help. Police arrived and rushed Parker to the hospital, but he died soon after arrival. Leggett was later arrested and charged with murder and carrying a handgun without a license.
A Facebook fight between two 14-year-old Chicago girls, who were arguing over a boy, ended with one of them being killed on April 13, 2014. Endia Martin was shot and killed by the other teenager (who is unnamed due to her age) while she walked home from the school. Another girl was wounded in the arm by the shooter.
The killer didn't act alone. Donnell Flora, the uncle of the shooter, gave her the gun so that she could commit the crime. He was sentenced to 100 years in jail for his role in the killing. Another teen, Vandetta Redwood, was originally connected to the crime as well, but was ultimately acquitted.