Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram—and for those who are a little older, MySpace—are great ways to connect with friends and meet new people. But misplaced or misunderstood social media posts, pokes, and rants have proven to be fatal. Here are seven ridiculous deaths that were caused by social media.
Although social media is a great way to share news, ideas, and pictures, it also has a dark side. People accept friend requests and respond to messages without really knowing who’s on the other end of the fiber optic. At the same time, knee-jerk responses to someone else’s online post means we sometimes share too much and/or are more brazen and critical than we would be if talking to that person face-to-face.
Sure, you can safely smack someone down online from behind the keys of your computer, but not forever. The openness of the Internet also means you can be tracked down…with ease.
The seven stories below show that posting the wrong social media post can be deadly.
1. Dissing Rapper’s Skills on Twitter Leads to Shooting Death
If you can’t rhyme, you’ll do the time.
In early February 2016, Jerrold Parker’s friend Javhonn Frazier posted a message on Devin Leggett’s Twitter account saying Leggett couldn’t rap. Friends of Parker and Leggett joined the social media melee, throwing gas on the fire.
“If anyone got a problem with us we can solve that right now. Hit my line,” Devin Leggett, 19, tweeted.
After a flurry of tweets and texts, a face-to-face meeting was set. The two groups decided to settle the bad rap squabble with a scrap at The Woods of Eagle Creek Apartments in Indianapolis on February 3.
Leggett phoned a friend of Parker’s who was in the apartment. “We outside,” he said.
Parker and his friends met Leggett and his group of friends outside and a fight broke out.
According to one witness, as many as 10 shots were fired. Parker was hit and seriously injured. The 18-year-old Parker was found in the back of a 1998 Oldsmobile by police and transported to IU Health Methodist Hospital where he later died.
The same witness told police someone actually recorded the shooting and posted it on Twitter. It was removed after Parker died.
Leggett was apprehended and pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and carrying a handgun without a license. He was given a six-year prison sentence and credit for 232 days served.
2. Boyfriend Shoots Girlfriend over MySpace Post
New Year’s Eve 2009 did not portend a new beginning for Mikarah “Tinky” Sanders. The 15-year-old from Burien, Washington was shot and killed by Matthew Dubois, 16, because he didn’t like a message another boy posted on her MySpace page.
Dubois, who had a lengthy juvenile record and was wearing an electronic bracelet from an assault charge, then shot himself in the shoulder to make it look like a gangland shooting.
Police responded to a 911 call at an apartment at 12445 Ambaum Blvd. S.W., in Burien, after being told that two people were shot and the gunman fled the scene. When police entered Dubois’ bedroom, they found Sanders face down on the bed—shot in the face at close range in the left cheek. A .357-caliber Taurus handgun was later found under a stairway at the apartment complex.
Sanders died on the morning of January 1, 2010.
When interviewed, Dubois and his brother’s girlfriend told detectives that a gunman with a blue bandanna in his back pocket (a reference to the Crips) stormed the apartment, fired two shots, and escaped unharmed.
On closer examination though, it was discovered that the girlfriend heard Sanders and Dubois arguing over a comment Sanders’ ex-boyfriend posted on her MySpace page. The argument ended after a single gunshot. She then watched Dubois shoot himself in the shoulder.
Two years later, Dubois, now 18, was sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison. His defense attorney tried to prove the shooting was a result of an accidental discharge but the state disagreed. Dubois will be placed on community supervision for three years after his release.
Sanders meanwhile, is being remembered as an outgoing, fun-loving girl who took sign language classes, sang in her church choir, and traveled to India and Malaysia with her grandmother as part of a youth-ministry trip.
3. Guy Kills Friend for “Poking” Girlfriend on Facebook
Even a virtual poke can lead to murder. On July 27, 2014, Scott Humphrey, 27 landed a fatal blow to 29-year-old friend Richard Rovetto’s head, after learning that Rovetto “poked” Humphrey’s girlfriend on Facebook.
The tragic night started out jovially but the mood changed on the taxi ride home. Following a successful bachelor party, Humphrey and Rovetto took a cab ride home. It was here that Humphrey accused Rovetto of contacting his girlfriend on Facebook and sending her a virtual poke.
“If you’re such a good friend then why did you poke my missus?” Humphrey asked.
Rovetto, a father-of-one, said he didn’t mean to flirt with Humphrey’s girlfriend on Facebook and didn’t even know that Humphrey and the girl were dating. This didn’t matter to Humphrey, who repeatedly punched Rovetto in the cab.
When the taxi stopped in Top Valley, Nottingham, Humphrey took the fight outside, knocking Rovetto to the ground where he hit his head on the pavement. Rovetto suffered massive head injuries and died hours later in hospital.
After fleeing the scene, Humphrey turned himself into the police, eventually admitting to manslaughter and feeling “genuinely remorseful.” In October 2010, he was sentenced to four years and four months.
4. Man Uses Facebook to Lure Ex-Girlfriend, Murders Her
Sarah Elston, 22, was a creative artist living in Brisbane, Australia. She was contacted by her ex-boyfriend on Facebook where he suggested the two meet up. Elston was expecting perhaps a romantic evening; Daniel Garcia-Manzano had other plans. In fact, Elston described Manzano as “crazy, but a good kind of crazy.”
Manzano visited Elston at her apartment in early June 2008, where he killed her in a frenzied stabbing attack. Neighbors said they heard screams during the night but did not do anything about it because of frequent disturbances in the area.
She was found dead in her unit on Tuesday, June 3, 2008.
Police arrested Daniel Manzano, 28, for her murder the following night but he was found to be mentally unfit to stand trial. Manzano was suffering from acute paranoid schizophrenia and placed indefinitely in a secure psychiatric hospital.
Friends of Elston say she did not know that Manzano was receiving treatment for schizophrenia at Fortitude Valley under an involuntary treatment order when they met.
Queensland Health notified police of the “non-specific threats” but it didn’t prevent her murder.
5. Girl Meets Pregnant Woman on Craigslist, Cuts out Her Baby
Most people use Craigslist to buy furniture, cars, home electronics, and appliances, but, as we have seen, social media platforms are also hunting grounds for those with more nefarious intentions.
Take, for example, Korena Roberts, 28, a woman who wanted to be a mother at any cost. For months, Roberts lied to friends, family, and neighbors about having a baby, going so far as to buy a stroller, baby formula, and parenting magazines.
She also put ads on Craigslist saying she was selling baby clothes, but chances are good that she did so looking for a victim. After all, you can only pretend to be pregnant for so long.
This is where the story turns deadly.
Less than a month before the killing, Heather Snively, then 21, moved to Oregon from Maryland to be with her fiancé. Snively met Roberts after looking for baby clothes on Craigslist. Roberts actually set up meetings with other pregnant women through Craigslist before meeting up with Snively, but those didn’t work out.
In June 2009, Roberts lured Snively to her Beaverton-area home under the pretense of giving Snively some baby clothes. It was then that Roberts beat Snively with a police baton in the bathroom and used a straight razor to slice open Snively’s abdomen.
She covered Snively in a carpet and hid her body in the crawl space under the kitchen. Roberts then called her boyfriend, Yan Shubin, telling him she needed help delivering her baby.
Shubin came home and found Roberts crying in the bathtub with the water running, the lifeless body of a baby boy in her arms. Medics were called and found the couple trying to revive the baby.
Also Read: 4 Truly Horrifying Craigslist Crimes
Doctors at the hospital were also unable to revive the baby. Upon examination, doctors later discovered that Roberts did not deliver a baby at any point in the recent past. Deputies went to their home and found Snively’s body in the crawl space.
Autopsy reports show that Snively suffered up to 30 blows from the baton, mostly to the back of the head, cuts to her right breast and abdomen, and bite marks on her right arm. The head injuries knocked Snively out, but it was the cut to her abdomen and subsequent blood loss that led to her death.
The autopsy report also showed that the baby died before he was removed from the womb.
Roberts was quickly arrested and charged with four counts of aggravated murder, one count of murder, and two counts of first-degree robbery.
She eventually pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated murder and agreed to life in prison without parole.
6. Mom Bludgeoned after Reminding Ex about Childhood Payments on Facebook
Is there anything as fragile as the male ego? Adam Mann, 29, murdered his ex-wife, Lisa Beverley, 30, at her home on September 15, 2009, for, he said, taunting him on Facebook about child support payments.
Beverley was in a dispute with her ex for months over child support payments and she took her message to Facebook where she called him “a joke” for being in arrears.
The couple were in a bitter dispute since they divorced in 2007, but it ramped up in the weeks leading to her murder.
She contacted the Child Support Agency (CSA) and told them that Mann lied about being unemployed—he was a chef. The agency sent him a letter telling him he was required to pay £17.00 per week and it would be backdated, totaling £400.00.
The day before her death, Beverley updated her Facebook profile to say, “Now whose laughing? U’ve got done big time by the CS, so now leave us alone for good, your son hates u and so do I. [sic]”
Beverley also told her Facebook friends that Mann “is a waste of space and anyone who knows him will tell you the same.”
“He can’t look after his own kids but can take someone else’s on. He is a joke mate. Sorry I am being a b*tch.”
Hours before the murder, Mann called the CSA and said he had no money and would not make the £400.00 payment—at least until a DNA test proved the boy was his.
Mann, who was upset about the way he was being portrayed, went to Beverley’s home in Plumstead, south-east London and, using a hammer, battered her, before slashing her neck with a knife. Most of her ribs were also broken and she had extensive bruising all over her body. Some of the wounds were defensive.
Mann left her in a pool of blood on the floor where she was found by their five-year-old son. The boy phoned his grandparents after finding her body at 6:00 a.m. The five-year-old boy was crying and said to his grandmother, “Nanny, I can’t wake Mummy up…I think she’s dead.”
Beverley’s father then went to their home where he found his daughter dead.
Mann was arrested on September 16 at his home in Welling. His new partner, Elizabeth Kilgallon, 27, provided him with a false alibi, saying they were in bed together the night of September 15. Mobile phone evidence, however, showed the couple were in constant contact that night.
In October 2010, Mann was jailed for a minimum of 24 years.
7. Facebook Death List Leaves 4 Dead
“The Facebook Death List” sounds like it’s an urban legend…but it’s not. And the 2010 crimes remain unsolved to this day.
A 69-name hit list was posted on Facebook on August 17, 2010. It gave those on the list three days to leave the southwestern town of Puerto Asis. Failing to do so would lead to execution. Initially, authorities dismissed it as a joke. But over the next 10 days, three of the Colombian teenagers on the list were dead: Diego Ferney Jaramillo, 16; Eibart Alejandro Ruiz Munoz, 17; and Norbey Alexander Vargas, 19
Leaflets were also placed on cars, as well as notes addressed to the families of those on the list. “Please, as relatives, ask them to leave town in less than three days, or we’ll see ourselves forced to carry out more acts like that of 15 August,” read one note.
After the publication of a second list with 31 additional names, all young women, authorities decided the story deserved a second look.
At the time, local authorities said they did not know who was responsible for the deaths, but they were investigating the matter. They did say that a criminal gang known as Los Rastrojos and a Marxist guerrilla group called the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia operate in the area.
To help speed the investigation along, authorities offered a reward of five million pesos (worth around $2,750 at the time) for information on the killings. However, that might not have been enough money for people to put their lives on the line.
One 19-year-old local girl who did not want to be identified told Newsweek she was on the second list and did not know who was behind the threats. “But lots will leave,” she said. “Friends have died here. What can [the police] do? I may go.”
The murders remain unsolved. The killings stopped after most of the kids on the two Facebook hit lists left town.