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Online Killers: Portraits of Murderers, Cannibals and Sex Predators Who Stalked the Web for Their Victims

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  • Posted August 4, 2010

    more from this reviewer

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    Be careful when checking out the other side of the information highway...

    It could be argued that sites that encourage or aid and abet suicide use the Internet to find victims, and that Sharon Lopatka might never have committed suicide if not for their "helpful hints" and sanction. In this case, the Internet sites were designed for the advancement of self-destruction, but did not actually "stalk the web."

    The 11-year-old girl nicknamed "Nevada" did not stalk her 12-year-old victim (Satomi Mitarai) on the Internet; they were friends, but a few posts by Satomi so enraged the violence-obsessed "Nevada" that it resulted in Satomi's vicious murder.

    Murderous and murdered imported brides, terrorists, long-distance love affairs, and violent fantasies fueled by Internet images are all included in "Online Killers". It is a sad litany of the abuse of a system that can be beneficial, but is easily exploited. Although the authors offer us summaries of a variety of crimes, they seem more interested in casting light on a very dark world. The statistics that chart the growth of sites dedicated to sex, necrophilia, violence, and cannibalism are astounding, and very frightening. Those who are satisfied minding their own business (most of the time) will be shocked by the abundance of antisocial sites-unless, of course, their own business happens to be antisocial activities.

    Both the introduction and appendix are heavy-handed presentations of facts, statistics, and appeals for something to be done. There is also a contradictory sense of resignation to the idea that nothing can or will be done. That individuals' rights to privacy and free speech outweigh the lives of victims of predators using the Internet. These points are made repeatedly throughout "Online Killers."

    The final chapter (before the appendix) , "Men and Women Behind Bars: Internet Lovebirds," focuses on convicts who use the Internet to prey on naïve members of society. Inmates looking for pen pals or friendship find it easy to hook up with gullible people who will send them money.

    "Online Killers" serves as a collection of cautionary tales for those so trusting they put their faith in complete strangers-manipulative predators that use their victims' weaknesses to destroy them. For every person who finds "the one" through an Internet connect, there are so many others finding the wrong one.

    While the cases profiled in Online Killers are all interesting, the nucleus is the depressing statistics and introduction to how dark the world that surrounds us is.

    Excerpted from

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