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Anyone You Want Me to Be: A True Story of Sex and Death on the Internet

Anyone You Want Me to Be: A True Story of Sex and Death on the Internet

2.3 8
by John Douglas, Stephen Singular

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Legendary FBI profiler and #1 New York Times bestselling author John Douglas explores the shocking case of John Robinson, a harmless, unassuming family man whose criminal history began with embezzlement and fraud — and ended with his arrest for the savage murders of six women and his suspected involvement in at least five disappearances. Most


Legendary FBI profiler and #1 New York Times bestselling author John Douglas explores the shocking case of John Robinson, a harmless, unassuming family man whose criminal history began with embezzlement and fraud — and ended with his arrest for the savage murders of six women and his suspected involvement in at least five disappearances. Most disturbing was the hunting ground in which Robinson seduced his prey: the world of cyberspace. Haunting chat rooms, targeting vulnerable women, and exploiting the anonymity of the Internet, his bloody spree was finally halted by a relentless parole officer who spent ten years trying to nail Robinson as a cold-blooded killer.

A cautionary tale set in a virtual world where relationships are established without the benefit of physical contact, and where mainstream Americans can be drawn down a dark path of temptation and death, Anyone You Want Me To Be is a contemporary real-life drama of high-tech crime and punishment.

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
Anyone You Want Me to Be is a riveting story. The authors, John Douglas and Stephen Singular, see this true crime book as a cautionary tale. Douglas, a former FBI profiler, says in an introduction that the story of John Robinson "needed to be shared with those looking for romance and sex on-line." Indeed. — Carolyn Banks
Publishers Weekly
Douglas (The Cases That Haunt Us)-criminal profiler, ex-FBI agent, true crime writer and supposedly the model for a key character in Thomas Harris's The Silence of the Lambs- presents the sordid and horrific case of John Robinson, "the nation's-if not the world's-first Internet serial killer." A chubby middle-aged father of four with a long history as a con man, Robinson explored the local s&m underground of Kansas City while skillfully using Internet chat groups to lure sexually adventurous women to Kansas, where he killed six of them, and perhaps five more, before his arrest in 2000. Douglas's methodical pace and his careful accretion of detail to describe bizarre crimes committed by seemingly ordinary people is highly reminiscent of the work of true crime writer Ann Rule, with Douglas seeing the case as being "about sex among unglamorous people and how the Internet had unleashed so many pent-up possibilities." He also spends a lot of time describing how the proliferation of porn-related sites on the Internet has made it "the fastest-growing criminal frontier in cyberspace." While much of this is fascinating, Douglas too often breaks his tone to issue simplistic warnings to the reader ("Nobody can any longer afford to be naive when it comes to cyberspace"). Johnson, writing with journalist Singular, helpfully offers an appendix featuring "tips for helping adults and kids avoid the dangers of on-line predators." (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Douglas (coauthor, Mindhunter), the father of FBI profiling, tells a story far stranger than fiction in his new book. By 1994, John Robinson-husband, father, and con artist extraordinaire-was already adept at meeting and seducing women and making them disappear forever. But when he discovered the Internet, his career really took off. Robinson was always bright and motivated but too lazy to work for a living, and so he turned to fraud to pay for his extravagant lifestyle. Soon his scams involved meeting women, offering them jobs involving travel, and then murdering them. Though five women in his employ all vanished, there was never any evidence connecting him with the crime-indeed, no evidence that they were actually dead. Only when his multiple lives overwhelmed his organizational skills did the net finally close. Douglas is more comfortable with short vignettes, and some material (particularly on child pornography) seems like padding. But the book sends a clear warning about the perils of online relations with strangers and is an important addition to all true-crime collections.-Deirdre Bray Root, Middletown P.L., OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Pocket Star
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
4.30(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt


In March 2000, the phone rang in Steve Haymes's office and the voice on the line was urgent. Somebody needed to talk to him right now. Haymes was a parole officer in Liberty, Missouri, a suburb northeast of Kansas City, and in a sense he'd been expecting this call for fifteen years. He'd also been dreading it. The caller was part of a newly created task force put together by the police department in Lenexa, a suburb of Kansas City, Kansas. The Kansas-Missouri border runs through the heart of Kansas City and Haymes worked only a handful of miles from the Lenexa station. As soon as he answered the phone, the parole officer knew the matter was serious.

"The task force said they wanted to speak to me about someone," he recalls. "They didn't tell me who but said they needed to meet with me immediately. They came out here to Liberty that same day and asked me if the name John Robinson meant anything to me. I said, 'Absolutely, and I've got a file here on him about yea thick.'"

"Yea" translated into roughly twelve to fourteen inches high. The file contained, among other things, the names of several local women who'd been missing for about a decade and a half.

Haymes welcomed the men into his office at the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole in a one-story beige building set behind a gas station and mini-mart. They began asking him questions and he began dredging up disturbing memories. The officer's hair was a little grayer than it had been back in 1985, when he'd first looked into Robinson's background, but he was still trim and his blue eyes conveyed intelligence and sensitivity. It was those eyes that had put him in this job throughout the past quarter century. In college, Haymes had studied criminal justice and had wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement, but faulty eyesight had kept him from becoming a policeman. He'd found work overseeing those on parole. Behind his small mustache, soft voice, and polite manner was an intensity and tenacity that in the mid-1980s had led him into the most frustrating investigation of his life.

"I'd maintained Robinson's file for all those years between 1985 and 2000," he says. "Normally, after a couple of years, some of that information would be in archives or destroyed, but fifteen years later his entire file was sitting in my desk. It had never gotten far from me."

When he brought the file out for the detectives on the task force, they were amazed at its size and complexity. Haymes himself was surprised to hear about the new allegations against Robinson, especially those involving the Internet. Yet, when he thought about it, he realized that the con man had always used the latest technology for his new schemes. That was part of his pattern, his evolution through the criminal justice system during the past thirty-five years. Until now, Haymes had been the only person who'd closely examined that pattern or paid close attention to Robinson. No one else had woven together the whole tapestry of his past or penetrated the surface of his personality. No one else had seen the full range of his activities, some of which almost defied belief, or where they might be leading. No one else had looked deeply at Robinson's roots or tried to uncover the source of his behavior or extremely unusual psychology. Nobody but Haymes had imagined what law enforcement was actually confronting.

Early in 1985, the slightly built parole officer had undertaken this mission alone -- and in March 2000 he was still haunted by it. He was about to become a lot more haunted.

Meet the Author

John Douglas was the founder and head of the FBI's Investigative Support Unit, which was formed in 1980. He retired from the Bureau after twenty-five years of service. He is the author or coauthor of numerous books on criminal profiling, including The Cases That Haunt Us, The Anatomy of Motive, Obsession, Journey into Darkness, Unabomber, and the #1 New York Times bestseller Mindhunter, as well as the novels Man Down and Broken Wings — all available from Pocket Books.

Visit his website at www.johndouglasmindhunter.com.

Stephen Singular has authored or coauthored seventeen previous books, including numerous New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestsellers. His titles include Presumed Guilty: An Investigation into the JonBenet Ramsey Case, the Media, and the Culture of Pornography; and Anyone You Want Me to Be: A True Story of Sex and Death on the Internet, coauthored with legendary FBI profiler John Douglas. Formerly a staff writer for the Denver Post, he lives in Denver. Visit his website at www.stephensingular.com.

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Anyone You Want Me to Be: A True Story of Sex and Death on the Internet 2.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very thought provoking story, particularly in this age of high tecnology and world wide web. I would recommend this book for all parents, if only because of the temptation to respond to someone online who seems to be very caring, forgiving and someone who offers more than a young person (or older person) has now or has ever needed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was slow and deliberate. I found it to be very interesting, and passed it onto another reader who also found it a good read. I don't know about the other gentleman's book, but my copy did have several pages of pictures, and I did exactly what he said (matched the faces with the names). This is not a whamm bamm book which I think is what some folks are looking for. I too read true-crime heavily and found this to be very different from others I have read. Please look at reading some of my recommendations. I think they are much better reads. I would offer this book to someone, but not on their dime!
BozzBlonde More than 1 year ago
Well, honestly, I was forced to read this book, but overall, I thought the book was really educative when dealing with sex and death on the internet. It really shows you what people are capable of doing over the internet, whether you think it could happen to you or not. You should only read this book, if you are looking an intellectual read that deals with this particular subject. I would not reccomend this book, if you are looking for a fun read. This is book has repititious events and doesn't get much more interesting until you finally get to the very end, when all of the secrets are revealed. That's the only thing that really kept me reading this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was so boring. I have to agree with the other reviews that were written! I couldn't get through it all, I had to stop. I read true crime books ALL THE TIME and this was awful. It had so much information about things that had nothing to do with the book. It was so slow. And there were NO pictures. EVERY true crime book I have read has had atleast a few pictures. You need this to connect the story to a face. Don't waste your money or even your time checking it out at the library. I ended up looking for other books about this guy so I could maybe get the story! I want to know about the TRUE CRIME part of this story, but I can't another page of this book!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was so boring, I didn't even finish it. I was very dissapointed. I don't even think I got to the 'internet' stalking part yet, and I was more than half-way through. Very disappointing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is pretty boring, it gives a lot of details that has nothing to do with the killer, like child pornography it's just plain boring and it leaves you with a lot of unanswered questions, I have to agree with the previous review, dont waste your money..
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has to be one of the most boring books I have ever read. The actual story is a good one but through the entire book all you can do is just read through a bunch of really really boring history on places that the stories took place not even significant places just somewhere he stayed for a little while and you get to learn all about that once in 18blah blah someone once did something that was not intresting. I swear there is almost two whole chapters on only where the internet came from and the things on it. WHERE IS THE DAMN TRUE CRIME!! Extremely frustrating to get through. Horribly written. If you want a book with alot of historical boring facts in it check this one out if you are looking for what the book claims to be a story of sex and death on the internet I recommend that you just walk right on by. Please save your money I am really mad I spent mine on this now.