When online dating became a thing many of us didn't know how we felt about it. Obviously we were intrigued by the concept. How could someone not be? Still, there were many troubling aspects that came attached to it. Like how safe it was, or what kind of people would be using online dating services to find potential lovers.
Whether there were misconceptions about online dating or not, it didn't stop millions of people from subscribing to its services. It especially didn't stop people from finding true love. In fact, in today's world as much as one third of Americans find their partners online. So what could possibly be wrong with online dating?
While online dating might have been invented to bring people together. It didn't stop predators from seeing it as an opportunity to meet their victims. As scary as it may be, the online world provides a feast for predators. Especially since many of its users are hopeful or even desperate to find a partner. In the end, you can never be sure of who you're speaking to online, which is why you should always be vigilant. Sadly, some people end up coming across a predator who is very good at pretending to be innocent. As a result of this, they either find themselves in a precarious situation, or worse, dead.
In many ways online dating is fantastic, but it isn't safe whatsoever. People could argue and say that someone can as easily meet a psycho in a bar. However, when using online dating people tend to meet in sketchy places, or even invite strangers into their homes. Or worse, not consider that who they're meeting might not be who they say they are. Here are 15 such cases of people who sadly failed to see the danger in the situation they were in.
15 Venkata Cattamanchi
While online dating is more commonly seen as dangerous for women, it can also be a precarious platform for men. This is due to the fact that some women plan to rob their online dates with the help of accomplices, and in the case of Venkata Cattamanchi, this is exactly what happened. When Cattamanchi met Jessica Ermatinger online, he had no idea who he was dealing with. Ermatinger was a prostitute who was looking for money. She posted an ad online and Cattamanchi took the bait. After meeting him in a Wendy's parking lot late at night, the pair decided to go rent a motel room.
When Ermatinger realized she had no money to rent a room, she called her partners, Kevin Huffman and James Randle, and rearranged for the robbery to take place at the car. Cattamanchi was then held at gun point and fatally shot, even after having handed his wallet and cellphone to his aggressors. The three culprits were eventually caught and arrested for their crimes.
14 Lorraine Long
Lorraine Long was a 62-year-old-widow who was having trouble finding love again. Desperate to do so, she turned to online dating for help, which seemed to work well — at first. It didn't take long before Long met a man named Robert Wiesner on Match.com. Long and Wiesner seemed to hit it off at first, and even engaged in a relationship, however, Long began to notice that Wiesner exhibited telltale signs of aggression, and attempted to end their relationship.
When it became clear that Wiesner would not respect her wishes, Long became frightened and took out a restraining order on him. This only seemed to anger Wiesner ever more, which resulted in him kidnapping Long from her home in Scottsdale. Wiesner took Long to Seligman, Arizona, where he fatally shot her. Within a day's time, Long's disappearance was reported and Wiesner was arrested for her murder and sent to prison.
13 Nicole White
In 2015, a single mother named Nicole White was reported missing by her family. The young mom had previously been using online dating services to land dates, which lead her to meeting Jonathan Daniel Harris. The pair exchanged messages which lead to White picking Harris up from his home. They drove to Jeepers Country Bar and Grill in Spanaway, where they spent several hours together. Since White never made it home from her date, it is assumed that she agreed to go back to Harris' home.
Two weeks after her disappearance, White's body was found rolled up in a green tarp at the bottom of a wooded ravine. Upon examination, it became painfully clear that White had been beaten to death by Harris. His home was eventually searched, which resulted in the police uncovering White's blood on one of his old sweatshirts. Harris then pleaded guilty to White's murder, and admitted to ditching her car near his house and then walking home.
12 Johny Altinger
Johny Altinger was a 38-year-old-man who joined an online dating website in hopes of meeting a special woman. However, Altinger would soon find out that the woman he was chatting with online was actually a man named Mark Twitchell. Twitchell, a psychopath who was obsessed with the TV series Dexter, dreamed of carrying out the same type of murders committed on the show. To lure in his victim, Twitchell posed as a woman on an online dating site and invited Altinger to his home.
When Altinger arrived at the location, he was immediately attacked by Twitchell in what was referred to as a 'kill room'. Twitchell had lined the walls with plastic sheets, in order to mimic his favourite show. Twitchell then proceeded to kill and dismember Altinger. To make matters worse Twitchell documented the entire murder in a novel called the Serial Killer Confessions, and believed it to be promising work.
11 Karen Catherall
Karen Catherall was a single mother living in High Park, Gwernaffield. Catherall, 45, decided that it was time to get back into the dating game, and subscribed to Plenty of Fish, a popular dating site. Catherall eventually began exchanging messages with Darren John Jeffreys, a 47-year-old-man who lived nearby. Their online relationship eventually evolved into a real life one, however, it didn't take long before Jeffreys started to showcase his violent behaviour.
On September 13, 2014, Jeffreys reportedly had a few drinks and became furious, which resulted in him beating Catherall to death. The following morning, Jeffreys called an ambulance stating that he couldn't wake his girlfriend up. When the paramedics arrived, it became clear to them that Catherall had been dead for quite some time. Jeffreys, who had been accused of domestic violence several times before by past girlfriends, was found guilty of Catherall's murder and sentenced to life in prison.
10 Michael Sandy
When Michael Sandy joined a gay online dating website in hopes of landing a date, he in no way suspected that he was being lured into an evil ploy. The 29-year-old Ikea designer began chatting with two men on the internet, and decided to meet them in a parking lot in Sheepshead Bay. However, when he arrived to the location, Sandy was greeted by a group of white men who planned to rob him. The four men began to viciously beat Sandy, but somehow Sandy managed to escape.
In his desperate attempt to free himself from his attackers, Sandy ran onto the Belt Parkway while being chased. He was then hit by a car, and suffered severe injuries from which he never woke up from. Sandy's four attackers were eventually recovered and while most of them went to jail, justice was not truly served. Whether or not Sandy's death was the result of a hate crime remains unknown, as it has been said that the motive for the attack was robbery.
9 Ashley Pegram
Ashley Pegram was 29 years old at the time of her murder. The young woman had recently downloaded the dating app Kik, and disappeared after going on a date with Edward Bonilla. When Bonilla was confronted by police, he stated that he had driven Pegram home after their date, and that she was alive and sound the last time he'd seen her. One month after her disappearance, Pegram's body was found in the woods near Harleyville. The forensic autopsy later revealed that her cause of death had been homicidal violence.
The police then returned to Bonilla's home with a search warrant and examined his car. Bonilla's trunk held traces of blood, which matched with Pegram's DNA samples. Pegram's sister, with whom she shared a cellphone, tracked down Bonilla when her sister disappeared. Bonilla had joined Kik under the false name of Emoney Bon, and was later arrested for Pegram's murder.
8 Jette Jacobs
Jette Jacobs was a 67-year-old-widow who was desperate to find love again. Four years prior to her murder, Jacobs had begun an online relationship with a Nigerian man who gave her the fake name of Jesse Orowo Omokoh. To continue the relationship, Jacobs had sent Omokoh £50,000, despite her family's warnings. She planned a trip to Johannesburg, and flew to South Africa from Australia to meet Omokoh. Surprisingly, their first encounter went well. So well in fact, that she promised to return again when the timing was right.
Two years later, Jacobs started planning her second trip to South Africa, exited to see her lover again. Days after Jacobs left Australia, a letter was delivered from the police stating that she had been the victim of fraud. However, she was unable to receive the news in time.
Jacobs was eventually found dead in a villa in Johannesburg, and while the South African police conducted an investigation, they could not catch Omokoh due to the use of his fake name. However, they did state that there was evidence that Omokoh had come to Johannesburg days prior to Jacobs arrival. Jacobs' room in the villa was found stripped of all valuables, clearly indicating that she had been robbed.
7 Angela Russo
Angela Russo, a 24-year-old-woman living in Maricopa, Arizona, decided to go on a date with Lashawn Johnson, a man she had met online. Russo said goodbye to her mother, promising to see her the very next day, but never showed up or called. Fearing the worst, Russo's mother, Diana Schalow, informed the police about her daughter's disappearance, and waited. During the investigation, the police were able to pinpoint Russo's last location with the help of her cellphone. This brought them to Maryvale, Phoenix.
The murder was linked to Johnson, who had brought Russo back to his apartment, which showed clear signs of a homicide. When the police showed up to Johnson's apartment, they learned that he had a girlfriend. She admitted to having picked up Johnson at the scene of the crime the morning after the murder had been committed. Russo's body was eventually discovered in a desert area of Maricopa County. This information is what helped the police find Russo's body and put Johnson behind bars.
6 LaVar Watson
LaVar Watson (bottom right), a 27-year-old-man from Daytona Beach, met a woman named Ashley Levelle online, and drove to Marion County to take her to see a movie. What Watson didn't know, however, was that Levelle was not planning on going on a date, and was going to rob Watson. Watson got into Levelle's car after watching a movie, never suspecting that there was a man, Stevin Roopnarine, hiding in the backseat. Once on a quiet road, Roopnarine shot Watson in the back of the head three times, and ditched him on the side of the road after robbing him.
The next day, Watson's body was found by police, who immediately began their investigation on the homicide. Shortly after, they managed to track down Levelle, who in return lead them to Roopnarine. Roopnarine was arrested on December 26, 2011, whereas Levelle was arrested after her trial in January of 2012. Watson had previously served in the U.S. army, and was an honourable man who met an unjust fate.
5 Tori Ann Pennington
Seven years ago, a woman named Tori Ann Pennington made the mistake of inviting a stranger to her home in Lubbock, Texas. The single mother of three had previously started chatting with a man named Dustin Kendrick, whom she had met on an online dating website. The pair arranged to meet once Pennington had put her boys to sleep. She did so, unaware that it would be the last time she would ever see them.
Pennington proceeded to send her address to Kendrick, after having talked to him on the phone, and awaited his arrival. Shortly after she greeted him at the door, Kendrick and Pennington began to engage in sexual activity. However, Kendrick soon became violent and unexpectedly strangled Pennington to death. Afterwards, Kendrick fled the scene and found refuge at his mother's house, where he was arrested the following day. Pennington's three sons were the ones who found her and alerted her father, who called the cops.
4 Usha Patel
Usha Patel was a 44-year-old-mother who was looking for love. To find it, she decided to subscribe to Oasis, an online dating website. In her pursuit for companionship, Patel ended up meeting Miles Donnelly, a 35-year-old-man who appeared to be the full package. The pair exchanged heated messages and decided to meet for an explicit sexual encounter. After seven months of chatting and numerous phone calls, Patel felt confident that she was dealing with a compassionate man, however, she was wrong.
Patel invited Donnelly to her home, where they shared some drinks and began to undress each other. It was at this point that Donnelly showed his true colors, and proceeded to beat Patel to death, and stabbed her a dozen times. Donnelly fled the scene wearing only his pants, leaving everything else behind.
The next morning, Patel's body was discovered by her young son, and then her father, who had come to drive him to school. As for Donnelly, he was caught by police within two days, after having assaulted another woman.
3 Adam Hilarie
When Adam Hilarie started chatting with a cute girl named Hailey Bustos on the dating website Plenty of Fish, he mistook her for a decent person. They exchanged messages, agreeing to meet at a bowling alley for a good old fashioned date. Afterwards, Hilarie took Bustos to his home, before driving her back to her house in a nearby town. Hilarie might or might not have enjoyed his date with Bustos, but in the end it had passed without incident. What he didn't know, however, was that the date wasn't over.
The following night, three armed men and Bustos stormed into Hilarie's apartment in an attempt to rob him. These men had been working with Bustos for quite a while, using her to scope out the apartments of single men to determine if they were worth robbing. In the midst of the robbery, Hilarie was shot in his kitchen and died. The four culprits were caught and arrested for their crimes, but Hilarie's life was lost nonetheless.
2 Sharon Siermans
Sharon Siermans was a 29-year-old single mother, who suffered from a mild intellectual disability. Her previous relationship had fallen apart, which put her back on the market. Siermans turned to the internet in hopes of finding a new relationship, and subscribed herself to Plenty of Fish. As a result of this, Siermans met a 30-year-old man named Jason John Dinsley. Unknown to her, Dinsley was actually a convicted rapist who had spent 6 years in prison. He was currently living in a shed in Sebastopol with his girlfriend, when he engaged in online flirtations with Siermans.
The pair decided to meet at the Ballarat train station before going back to Siermans' house. However, Siermans was embarrassed to be seen with Dinsley, as he was wearing dirty clothes, did not smell good, and seemed strange. To get away from him, she faked an emergency and asked him to leave. Days later, still peeved by the incident, Dinsley returned to Siermans' home with a cricket bat, broke in, and beat her to death. Dinsley was caught by the cops and sent back to jail.
1 Warriena Wright
In this day and age, it is safe to say that nearly every young person knows what Tinder is. In fact, many of them have used Tinder to find singles in their area who are looking to meet up. While many of these encounters might be positive ones, this can't be said about Warriena Wright's. While Wright was attending a wedding in Australia, she decided to go on a date with her latest Tinder match: Gabel Tostee. Their night started off on a high note, so much so that Wright agreed to head back to Tostee's apartment in Brisbane.
Despite their obvious attractions to one another, Wright and Tostee began to fight. Their fight escalated to the point where Tostee tossed her onto his balcony and locked the door. Allegedly fearing for her well-being Wright chose to climb over the balcony in an attempt to lower herself onto the balcony bellow. However, she lost her balance and fell to her death from the 14th storey. While many people feel as though Tostee might have pushed her over the railing. There was insufficient proof which resulted in his acquittal.