Seemingly a typical Minnesotan man, a married father of two, William Francis Melchert-Dinkel is a predator. When people hear the word predator, they typically think about someone who commits sex crimes, such as rape or child abuse; however, Melchert-Dinkel is a new type of online predator.
This sick man encouraged suicidal people online to take their own life while he watched voyeuristically on a webcam. Posing as a young girl, he persuaded people to join a suicide pact, which he then abandoned.
One of the newsgroups in which Melchert-Dinkel lurked was alt.suicide.holiday. Newsgroups are similar to forums. The original purpose of the group was to discuss the relationship between suicide rates and holiday seasons, but over time it evolved into a broad discussion forum where suicidal people could openly share their thoughts. Unfortunately, because the forum is unmoderated, it’s subject to trolling, and by the looks of it, also home for predators like Melchert-Dinkel. The group became infamous for something called a.s.h methods file – a list of possible methods for suicide, ranging from the serious, like different types of poisons, to the absurd e.g., starting World War 3. Over times, books like Final Exit and The Peaceful Pill Handbook provided more detailed information on suicide methods and the notorious file had lost its importance.
Over the course of four to five years, Melchert-Dinkel advised, encouraged and created suicide pacts. 18-year-old Nadia Kajouji from Canada and 32-year-old Mark Drybrough from England both had a conversation with the predator just prior to taking their own lives. In November 2006, a retired British schoolteacher received word from a teenaged friend in South America that she had entered a suicide pact with a young nurse. The young nurse was no one other than Melchert-Dinkel. The British schoolteacher was able to convince the girl to break the pact four hours before the planned suicide, saving her life. She started an investigation on her own and talked to several users who had entered to such pacts, where the victims were supposed to die in front of their webcams.
On March 15, 2011, Melchert-Dinkel was charged under a rarely used state law with advising, encouraging, or assisting Kajouji and Drybrough in taking their own lives using internet correspondence. Even after his release from prison, his lawyer has continued to appeal the conviction.
What is your take on this? Should freedom of speech protect this bastard?