William Francis Melchert-Dinkel

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William Francis Melchert-Dinkel
Born (1962-07-20) July 20, 1962 (age 51)
Citizenship American
Occupation Former nurse; currently a truck driver[1]
Known for Charged with encouraging the suicides of a person in Britain in 2005, and another person in Canada in 2008, over the internet
Home town Faribault, Minnesota
Criminal charge
Assisting suicide (April 23, 2010)
Children Two daughters, Mari and Molly[2]

William Francis Melchert-Dinkel (born July 20, 1962, from Faribault, Minnesota, United States) is a former LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) and convicted online predator. He was found guilty of encouraging people to commit suicide while he watched voyeuristically on a webcam.[2][3][4][5][6] He allegedly told those contemplating suicide what methods worked best, that it was a decent choice to commit suicide, that they would be better in heaven, and/or falsely entered into suicide pacts with them, which he then abandoned.[3][7] He is a married father of two.[8][9][10]

Melchert-Dinkel was convicted of two counts of assisting suicide, for encouraging the suicides of a person in Britain in 2005, and another person in Canada in 2008.[3]

Victims[edit]

He allegedly met his victims in internet suicide chat rooms, where he posed as a depressed woman in her 20s.[11][12][13][14] Investigators say he told them he encouraged dozens of people to kill themselves, contacting more than 100 people.[3][6][15]

According to the police, Melchert-Dinkel, admitted to using a number of e-mail addresses to persuade five people to kill themselves.[16] He allegedly admitted using two e-mail addresses, falcongirl507@yahoo.com and li_dao05@yahoo.com, and the alias Cami D, to advise, encourage and create suicide pacts, typically by hanging, with persons on the internet for four to five years.[5][13][16][17][18]

Nadia Kajouji; Canada[edit]

He was convicted in relation to the suicide of 18-year-old Nadia Kajouji who became depressed after leaving home to begin university.[19] A student at Ottawa's Carleton University, she jumped from a bridge and was found drowned in Rideau River near the Ottawa school in April 2008.CTV[20][21][22][23][24][25] She had allegedly conversed online with someone posing as a young woman–now to be Melchert-Dinkel–who allegedly suggested that she hang herself (advising what type of rope to buy, what length and diameter, how to tie the knots, and where to place the noose on her neck), and that she capture her final moments with a webcam so he and others could watch, as part of a joint suicide pact.[4][13][20][22][26][27] St. Paul, Minnesota police said they confirmed that she "had been conversing with Melchert-Dinkel online just prior to her disappearance", including on the day of her disappearance.[28][29][30]

Ottawa police decided not to charge Melchert-Dinkel under the Canadian assisted suicide law.[14]

Mark Drybrough; England[edit]

He was also convicted in relation to the suicide of Mark Drybrough, a 32-year-old IT technician who in the wake of suffering a nervous breakdown and being depressed hanged himself in his Coventry, England home in July 2005, after allegedly chatting for two months with someone allegedly using the aliases Falcongirl and Li Dao.[4][24][24][31][32] He is charged with counseling Drybrough how to kill himself.[24]

Investigations[edit]

In November 2006, Celia Blay, a retired British schoolteacher living in Maiden Bradley, Wiltshire, received word from a teenaged friend in South America that she had entered a suicide pact with a young nurse. Blay investigated Melchert-Dinkel's "Li Dao" identity and discovered that he had previously agreed to earlier suicide pacts. She convinced the girl to break the pact four hours before the planned suicide, saving her life. Throughout the following year, Blay posted warnings about "Li Dao" on other chat websites. She also discovered Melchert-Dinkel's "Falcongirl" and "Cami D" identities, and talked to users who entered other pacts in which he arranged to have attempted victims die in front of their webcams. After months of collecting evidence about the then-unidentified Melchert-Dinkel's activities, Blay approached the local police. They opted not to investigate.

In January 2008—around the time Melchert-Dinkel was corresponding with Kajouji—Blay and a friend, Kat Lowe, set up a sting to catch "Cami D" in the act of attempting a suicide pact. It was during this correspondence that Melchert-Dinkel described seeing a man from Birmingham, thought to be Drybrough, hang himself on his webcam. Lowe and Blay gained Melchert-Dinkel's trust and found information that traced him back to his IP address and residence in Saint Paul, Minnesota. In a stroke of luck, they also saw Melchert-Dinkel through a webcam feed, posing as "Cami D". Blay submitted an affidavit on the matter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but received no response. However, the Saint Paul Police Department and the Minnesota Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force agreed to take the case.[33][34]

Charges[edit]

Rice County Courthouse

Melchert-Dinkel was convicted on March 15, 2011, in a criminal complaint filed in Rice County, Minnesota.[6] He was charged under a rarely used state law with advising, encouraging, or assisting Kajouji and Drybrough in taking their own lives using internet correspondence.[2][35][36] He was ordered to stay off the internet while his criminal case is pending.[37]

While counseling to commit suicide is illegal, laws in North America and Britain have not previously been successfully used to prosecute anyone for promoting suicide over the internet.[4] He was found guilty of aiding a suicide under Minnesota law, which provides penalties for anyone who “intentionally advises, encourages, or assists another in taking the other’s own life", punishment can be up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $30,000.[7][14][21][38] He was sentenced on May 4, 2011, to 360 days in jail.[39]

On July 27, 2012, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction. The Minnesota Supreme Court subsequently agreed to review the case. On March 19, 2014, the supreme court reversed the conviction and remanded.[40] The high court held that the Minnesota statute under which Melchert-Dinkel had been convicted was unconstitutional in part. The court held that merely advising or encouraging suicide was speech protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and that those prohibitions were unconstitutional. It went on to hold, however, that speech which actually assisted a suicide was not protected.

Since the trial court's had made factual findings only with respect to encouraging and advising, the supreme court reversed the conviction. It remanded, the case, however, for the lower court to determine whether Melchert-Dinkel had actually assisted the suicides within the meaning of the statute.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Doolittle, Robyn (May 26, 2010). "Man accused in Brampton teen’s suicide banned from Internet". Toronto: thestar.com. Retrieved June 30, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c Complaint
  3. ^ a b c d Davey, Monica (May 13, 2010). "Online Talk, Suicides and a Thorny Court Case". The New York Times. Retrieved June 26, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d Anderssen, Erin (April 10, 2009). "Nurse may be linked to multiple suicides, tracker says". Toronto: The Globe and Mail. Retrieved June 26, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Doolittle, Robyn (May 9, 2009). "Nurse urged 5 to commit suicide, U.S. police say". The Toronto Star. Retrieved June 26, 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c "William Melchert-Dinkel charged with encouraging suicides, The Sunday Times, April 24, 2010. Retrieved June 26, 2010.
  7. ^ a b Doolittle, Robyn (February 28, 2009). "Teen urged to commit suicide on webcam". The Toronto Star. Retrieved June 26, 2010. 
  8. ^ Niall Firth (March 24, 2010). "The suicide voyeur nurse who 'encouraged people to kill themselves online'". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved June 26, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Cops: Nurse encouraged suicides". MSNBC. October 16, 2009. Retrieved June 27, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Nurse Is Accused of Using Internet to Encourage Suicides", The New York Times, October 18, 2009
  11. ^ "Former US nurse charged with aiding suicides via web". BBC News. April 24, 2010. Retrieved June 27, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Internet predator linked to deaths". Sunday Mercury. March 8, 2009. Retrieved June 26, 2010. 
  13. ^ a b c "'Suicide voyeur' nurse William Melchert-Dinkel allegedly talked people into death online". The Australian. March 22, 2010. Retrieved June 26, 2010. 
  14. ^ a b c Greenberg, Lee (February 25, 2010). "Kajouji case goes to U.S. prosecutor". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved June 26, 2010. [dead link]
  15. ^ "William Melchert-Dinkel". New York Daily News. October 17, 2009. Retrieved June 26, 2010. 
  16. ^ a b Wingrove, Josh (May 9, 2009). "Man tells police he coached 5 people to kill themselves". Toronto: The Globe and Mail. Retrieved June 26, 2010. 
  17. ^ Paul Walsh (October 14, 2009). "Nurse involved in suicide chats loses license". Star Tribune. Retrieved June 27, 2010. 
  18. ^ "Suicide nurse prowled internet chat rooms". Smh.com.au. October 20, 2009. Retrieved June 27, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Minnesota Man Assisted Internet Suicide". ABC News. Retrieved June 27, 2010. 
  20. ^ a b Anderssen, Erin (February 28, 2009). "Depressed? Maybe you'd better stay off the Web". Toronto: The Globe and Mail. Retrieved June 26, 2010. 
  21. ^ a b Doolittle, Robyn (February 27, 2009). "Nurse probed in teen's suicide has long disciplinary record". The Toronto Star. Retrieved June 26, 2010. 
  22. ^ a b "More light shed on suspect in Kajouji death". National Post. February 26, 2009. Retrieved June 26, 2010. 
  23. ^ "U.S. nurse tied to Canadian student death". UPI. February 27, 2009. Retrieved June 26, 2010. 
  24. ^ a b c d Emma Stone (March 10, 2009). "Internet ghoul linked to city man’s suicide". Coventry Telegraph. Retrieved June 26, 2010. 
  25. ^ "Nurse William Melchert-Dinkel had 'suicide fetish,' went online to provoke two people's deaths: cops". New York Daily News. October 17, 2009. Retrieved June 27, 2010. 
  26. ^ "William Melchert-Dinkel: Minnesota Nurse Suspected Of Encouraging Suicides". Huffington Post. October 17, 2009. Retrieved June 27, 2010. 
  27. ^ "Police affidavit: Nurse who coaxed suicides online may have had more victims". Tmcnet. Retrieved June 26, 2010. 
  28. ^ Doolittle, Robyn (February 28, 2009). "Teen urged to commit suicide on webcam". The Toronto Star. Retrieved June 26, 2010. 
  29. ^ "More online suicide chat cases sought". The Ottawa Sun. Retrieved June 26, 2010. 
  30. ^ "U.S. man charged with inciting Ottawa student's suicide". National Post. Retrieved June 27, 2010. [dead link]
  31. ^ Jody Ambrozjody (January 21, 2009). "Minnesota Nurse Charged in Suicides of Nadia Kajouji, Mark Drybrough". Fox News. Retrieved June 27, 2010. 
  32. ^ "Man Aids Suicide Over Internet | Chat Rooms | Two Kill Themselves". Oneindia News. April 24, 2010. Retrieved June 27, 2010. 
  33. ^ Village sleuth unmasks US internet predator behind suicide ‘pacts’, The Times of London, 20 March 2010
  34. ^ The Fifth Estate -- "[1]", Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 9 October 2009
  35. ^ Williams, Chris (April 23, 2010). "Nurse charged with aiding suicides via Internet". MSNBC. Retrieved June 27, 2010. 
  36. ^ "US man charged with aiding suicides via the Web". Taipei Times. April 25, 2010. Retrieved June 27, 2010. 
  37. ^ "No Internet for Man Charged in Suicides". The New York Times. May 25, 2010. Retrieved June 27, 2010. 
  38. ^ "More online suicide chat cases sought". Cnews. Retrieved June 26, 2010. 
  39. ^ "Man who aided Ont. teen's suicide gets year in jail". CBC. May 4, 2011. Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  40. ^ http://richardclem.com/casesummaries/MelchertDinkel.html
  41. ^ "The Internet group linked to Minnesota’s "suicide nurse"". Zenith City News. Retrieved February 22, 2011. 

External links[edit]