As kids, we were told not to get into strangers’ cars. Today, it’s pretty much encouraged as a cheap form of transportation through rideshare apps or through an app such as Uber. We’re constantly interacting with strangers on social media accounts, sharing our personal information online, meeting strangers from dating apps, and often times we don’t think twice about it. But should we?
When people first started socializing with strangers on the internet, it was something that wasn’t socially acceptable. People were afraid that there would be weirdos online, or that meeting people from the internet would get them killed. You may think that there aren’t that many weirdos on the internet, but you might be wrong. While we’re not trying to scare you away from meeting up with your latest Tinder fling, you should think twice about who you decide to meet up with. You never know what people are hiding from you on their online profiles.
15. David Heiss — Game Forum Freak
Davis Heiss loved to participate in the Advance Wars fan site Wars Central, under the alias Eagle_the_Lightning. Two admins of the site, Matthew Pyke and Joanna Witton, were particularly of interest to Heiss. He became obsessed with them over time and flew to their home in Nottingham from Limburg, Germany, in June of 2008 to meet the admins in person. He didn’t book a hotel and expected that he sleep at their home for the duration of his visit. They allowed him to stay for one night before asking him to leave because they were without a doubt incredibly weirded out by the situation.
According to Wikipedia, Heiss traveled to Britain two more times between June and September 2008. During his final visit, he stabbed Matthew Pyke 86 times when he opened the door. Hours later, Witton found her boyfriend on the floor dead. She contacted the police and Heiss was arrested at his home in Limburg the following day. He was sentenced to a minimum of 18 years in prison.
14. Anthony Powell — YouTube Stalker
Anthony Powell, 28, had a history of mental illness. The Michigan man would use his YouTube account to make videos denouncing black women and atheists. A few YouTube users, concerned by the content that he was posting, contacted the Detroit police to explain the content of the videos.
Asia McGowan had a YouTube account and made the mistake of interacting with Powell online. He began stalking her on YouTube and Facebook, even going as far to say that black women, like McGowan, were naturally promiscuous. One of his videos leading up to the murder of McGowan was titled “Black Women Don’t Deserve Respect.” The originals have been deleted from YouTube but it shouldn’t take you very long to find copies of his videos online (if you feel so inclined to look).
13. Richard Beasley — Craigslist Killer
Richard Beasley was introduced to the internet by his daughter Tonya so that he could buy and sell some of his old things and make a little bit of extra cash. Little did she know, her father would use websites Craigslist to lure men looking to work on a ranch so that he could murder and rob them.
When posting an ad on Craigslist, Beasley said that he was hiring for a position on his 688-acre cattle ranch in Ohio. Little did the men that applied for the position know, there was no ranch. Three men, Ralph Geiger, David Paulet, and Timothy Kern headed to the “ranch” one by one with all of their possessions. Instead of finding their dream job, they found Beasley with a gun in his hand. He shot them in the head, took the money from their wallets, and sold their possessions. He used 16-year-old Brogan Rafferty to help him bury the bodies of the men that he had killed.
Scott Davis, the fourth man to head to the ranch had luck on his side. When Beasley tried to shoot him, the gun jammed, and Davis made for his escape. He was shot, but managed to make it out alive.
Beasley was found after investigators traced the IP address of the Craigslist ad to a house in Akron, where he was renting the room under the name of his first victim, Ralph Geiger. In 2013, he was sentenced to death.
12. Stephen Port — Serial R*pist and Murderer
Stephen Port was able to meet his victims through online social networks typically used for gay men to connect with other gay men. After he met up with the men, he would slip gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), a common date rape drug, into his victims drink. They would be rendered unconscious, and Port would then rape his victims.
His first victim, Anthony Walgate, 23, was a fashion student who occasionally worked as an escort. Port offered to pay Walgate £800 for his services. When Walgate overdosed inside of Port’s flat, he anonymously called police and said that a boy had collapsed in front of his flat. He was imprisoned for eight months for perverting the course of justice because when he would recall the event to police, his story changed so frequently. He would later go on to kill Gabriel Kovar, Daniel Whitworth, and Jack Taylor.
When police officers examined the bodies of his victims, they found that each of them had died from a GHB overdose, but there was also traces of Viagra, amyl nitrate, mephedrone, and crystal meth in their system. Officials stated that they felt Port’s aim was to cause serious harm, but not to murder his victims.
11. John Edward Robinson — The Internet’s First Serial Killer
John Edward Robinson is often referred as the internet’s first serial killer. Under the screen name Slavemaster, Robinson patrolled BDSM chat rooms to find women that enjoyed playing a submissive role during sex. He lured his first victim, 45-year-old Sheila Faith, a woman with a wheelchair-bound teenage daughter, to Kansas City. He said that he was a wealthy businessman and philanthropist and would offer to pay for her daughter’s medical bills, as well as offer Sheila a job at his work. When Sheila made the trip across country to Kansas City, she disappeared immediately. Robinson continued cashing her pension checks for the next seven years.
As Slavemaster became renowned in the online BDSM community, he began offering more women the opportunity to come live with him. He was able to convince 21-year-old Polish immigrant Izabela Lewicka to sign a 115-item slave contract that gave him absolute control of her life, including access to her bank accounts. During the summer of 1999, Lewicka disappeared. Additionally, he convinced Suzette Tourten to move from Michigan to Kansas City with the promise that they would travel the world together. Tourten’s mother would receive letters from her “daughter” from all around the world (but only had postage from Kansas).
Police became suspicious after so many women had gone missing while interacting with Robinson, but they didn’t have enough proof to obtain a warrant. In 2000, a woman accused Robinson of stealing some of her sex toys, and police were able to search his property. Police found the remains of Lewicka and Trouten in two 85-pound chemical drums. When they searched his storage facilities, they found the remains of Beverly Bonner, Sheila Faith, and Debbie Faith. All the women were killed by blows to the head with a blunt object.
10. Dellen Millard & Mark Smich — Craigslist Killing
Tim Bosma, 32, posted an ad on Kijiji, a Canadian classifieds website similar to Craigslist, stating that he was trying to sell his pick-up truck. On May 6, 2013, he left his home in the company of two men, Dellen Millard and Mark Smich, who responded to his online ad. He never returned home. It’s one of the most famous Canadian murder cases in the last few years because of how ruthless and seemingly meaningless the murder was.
Dellen Millard and Mark Smich took Bosma far from his home, in his own vehicle, where they killed him. Bosma’s truck was hidden on the property of Madeleine Millard, five days after he was reported missing. Two days later, Bosma’s remains were found on the accused killers property in a livestock incinerator. His remains were unidentifiable, and due how little remained of Bosma, his exact cause of death is uncertain. Police believe that he was shot at close range inside his pickup truck, due to the traces of his blood found on the seats.
Dellen Millard and Mark Smich were found guilty of the murder in 2016, and are now waiting to go to trial for the murder of Dellen Millard’s former girlfriend, Laura Babcock, and his father, Wayne Millard.
9. Chris Dean — Wanted Revenge
People have been running scams on the internet since they’ve had access to it. One of the early internet hustlers was Chris Marquis, 17, who was running a scam online in the late 1990’s. Marquis would interact with people online, under the persona of a 27-year-old father and owner of a Vermont store called the CB Shack. Marquis would talk to CB radio hobbyists online, and offer to exchange his gear for theirs. Often, he would offer gear more expensive than what they were sending him and people would send him money to make up the difference. The people Marquis hustled would send them a package, eagerly wait for their own to come, only to realize that they had been hustled.
People weren’t happy. Many users posted in CB radio forums to be wary of Marquis, as he had scammed some of them out of hundreds of dollars in equipment and cash. One of these men, Chris Dean, paid Marquis $400 for a bunch of equipment that he never received. He expressed his dissatisfaction online and resorted to sending Marquis threatening messages.
On March 19, 1998, Chris Marquis was talking to his girlfriend on his CB radio. His mother walked in with a two-foot-long package that had just been delivered. She waited in the room, eager to see what was waiting inside. Marquis told his girlfriend that he didn’t recognize the address and she joked that it was probably a bomb. It was.
Marquis was killed by a pipe bomb sent by Chris Dean. His mother survived the blast, and told police about the threats that Dean had sent her son the following day.
8. Dmitry Smirnov — Game Forum Freak
In 2005, Dmitry Smirnov immigrated to Canada with his family from Russia. Three years later, he briefly dated a woman, Jitka Vesel, 36, after meeting her while playing World of Warcraft. Their relationship ended after Vesel began dating an old boyfriend and chose to stop communicating with Smirnov which would prove to be a fatal decision.
A little while later, Smirnov went into the United States to buy a gun, and paid a homeless man to buy bullets for him, as he wasn’t able to do so legally. Using resources online, Smirnov was able to find Vesel at her place of work in Chicago. He placed a tracking device on her car, eventually following her into the parking lot of her work and confronted her. He shot her once in the side, multiple times in the back, and then five times in the head as she lay on the ground. Soon after, he contacted police to confess his crime.
When asked why he had committed the crime, Smirnov told police, “Because you can’t just expect to dump someone like that and ignore them for two years, and you expect to, you know, get away with it with no consequences. And just waste, you know, someone’s life like that.”
7. Miranda and Elytte Barbour — Craigslist Killers
Miranda Barbour agreed to meet with Troy LaFerrara through an ad on Craigslist where she offered to have sex with him in exchange for money. On November 11, 2013, Barbour met LaFarra in the parking lot of a Pennsylvania mall. When agreeing on terms, the pair drove six miles to a small city. Little did LaFerrara know, Miranda Barbour’s husband, Elytte Barbour, was waiting in the backseat hiding under a blanket. Miranda signalled to Elytte to jumped out of the back seat to choke LaFerrara with a wrapped cord while Miranda stabbed him 20 times. His body was recovered and police were able to trace the Craigslist ad to Miranda and Elytte Barbour.
When interviewed by police, Elytte Barbour said that he and his wife wanted to murder someone together, and Laferrara happened to be the victim. The murder was timed to line up with their three-week wedding anniversary.
Miranda Barbour had a rough upbringing, falling victim to sexual assault at an early age. But, by the age of 13, Miranda claimed that she was part of a Satanic cult, and was ordered to kill a member of the cult, which she did. She also claimed to have killed 22 people between 2008 and 2013, though police say there is no evidence to back up this claim.
6. David Russell — Catfish
David Russell, from Sheffield, UK, met Maricar Benedicto, an American woman on Facebook, while pretending to be the lead singer of a Sheffield-based metal band called Bring Me The Horizon. He asked Benedicto to come visit him, and she did so willingly.
Russell walked with Benedicto into the woods nearby his home and asked her to sit on a fallen tree trunk. He said that he wanted to blindfold her because he was going to give her a surprise. Excitedly, she put the blindfold on because let’s be honest, who doesn’t love surprises? Benedicto tilted her head back, and Russel grabbed a knife out of his pocket and slit her throat. The blindfold fell off Benedicto, and she ran for her life. He followed her, stabbing her repeatedly, dropped a log on her, and headbutted her, and asking why she wouldn’t just die.
Benedicto was able to stop her attacker by telling him that she had given his address and name to immigration when she arrived in the United Kingdom. He ran home, she stumbled to a nearby house where she received the medical attention that she needed.
5. John Robert Charlton — Abusive Drunk
John Robert Charlton admitted to having a substance abuse problem and would become so mean while intoxicated that his parents had to file a restraining order against him. But to those on the outside, he appeared perfectly normal, especially to his girlfriend Ingrid Lyne whom he had met on a dating website. The couple had dated for around eight weeks before Charlton took Lyne to a Seattle Mariners baseball game, then to a bar where his sister worked, before finally taking her home. Lyne was reported missing soon after, and when questioned by police Charlton said that he couldn’t remember any of the details of that night because he was so intoxicated.
Charlton had plans to help his ex-girlfriend with some yard work the morning after the baseball game, but texted her saying that he would no longer be able to help her because “something had come up.” Later that day, a head, arm, and leg, later identified as Lyne’s, were found in a Seattle recycling bin. The rest of her remains were found underneath the bathtub.
4. Lisa Marie Montgomery — Fetus Thief
Lisa Marie Montgomery was convicted for the murder of Bobbie Jo Stinnett in 2004. Montgomery first met Stinnett while posting as a different woman in a dog chatroom called Ratter Chatter. Montgomery told Stinnett, who she knew was pregnant, that she was pregnant as well and the woman would shoot each other emails to talk about their pregnancies.
Montgomery asked Stinnett if they could meet up so that she could buy one of Stinnett’s rat terriers. When Montgomery arrived at Stinnett’s home, she strangled Stinnett with a neon pink rope and cut out the premature infant from her womb.
Stinnett’s body was discovered the next day, and the series of emails sent from Montgomery led police directly to her. When they arrived to arrest her, Montgomery had the premature infant in her care and told police that the child was hers. Due to the graphic nature of the crime scene, they did not believe her. The child was recovered and placed in the care of her father, Zeb Stinnett.
3. Mona Jaud Awana — Catfish
Mona Jaud Awana, 24, posed as a Jewish immigrant from Morocco named Sally while talking to 16-year-old high school student Ofir Rahum. After months of grooming, she was able to convince Ofir Rahum to travel to Jerusalem to meet with her. When he arrived, she drove him through the border into Palestinian territory towards a very secluded area. Awana stopped the car at a location, jumped out of the vehicle, and two Palestinian militants stepped out of their vehicle and shot Rahum from close range more than 15 times. The entire time, Awana was standing out of the way and watching with delight.
Awana was eventually apprehended by police and confessed to the crime. She stated that after witnessing a Palestinian mob lynch two Israeli soldiers, she was inspired to abduct an Israeli with the intent of murdering him. She chatted with several Israeli teenagers in chat rooms before choosing Rahum as her victim. Two days before their meeting, she told him that she was excited for Wednesday and that he had no idea how much she was looking forward to their meet up.
2. Hiroshi Maeue — The Suicide Website Murderer
Hiroshi Maeue, also known as “The Suicide Website Murderer” was a Japanese serial killer that killed a 14-year-old boy, 25-year-old woman, and 21-year-old man within the span of four months. Maeue met his victims in an online suicide club, and one at a time, suggested that they should end their lives together. When his victims arrived, thinking they were going to commit suicide together, Maeue would strangle his victims, something that he said brought him sexual pleasure.
Maeue should have been stopped earlier in his life. He had attempted to strangle a male friend in the 1980’s, was arrested and charged with assault for attempting to choke a male work associate in 1995, arrested for attempting to strangle two women in 2001, and arrested once more for attempting to strangle a boy in junior high.
Experts say that Maeue suffered from paraphilic psychosexual disorder which meant that he was unable to have a sexual release unless he was trying to strangle someone. He was sentenced to death, and was hanged on July 28, 2009.
1. Armin Meiwes — The Rotenburg Cannibal
The case involving Armin Meiwes is perhaps the strangest in this article. He was convicted of manslaughter in 2004 after he killed, and ate, a victim that volunteered.
Meiwes found himself communicating with like minded people on an internet forum for people that had a cannibalism fetish. He was looking for a willing volunteer on the website The Cannibal Cafe to kill and eat. A few people responded to the advertisement but when push came to shove, they would back out of the arrangement, and Meiwes would continue his search. Eventually, a man named Bernd Jürgen Armando Brandes volunteered to be killed and eaten by Meiwes.
The two men met in Meiwes home in Rotenberg, where Meiwes started his feast by cutting off Brandes’ penis and trying to get his victim to eat it. Brandes was too weak to chew through his raw penis, so Meiwes cooked it in a pan, adding salt, pepper, and garlic but was too burned to be consume. He chopped up the penis and fed it to his dog. While Brandes’ bled out, Meiwes read a book, kissed his victim, gave him painkillers and alcohol, and killed him in a room that he purposefully designed for slaughter. Meiwes spent the next 10 months eating up to 44 pounds of Brandes’ flesh — and prosecutors know this because the entire ordeal was video taped by Meiwes — even the part about him asking Brandes to eat his own penis.
Meiwes was arrested in December 2002 when a college student saw another one of Meiwes’ advertisements asking for another volunteer. Police searched his home, found what was left of Brandes, along with the video tape. Initially, Meiwes was sentenced eight years in prison, but was later sentenced to life in prison.