Internet Murder, Story at 11: The Death of a Friend

We’ve feared the worst and today have found out that the worst was something even beyond our imagination. Details are sketchy, but what we know is this:
My brother’s best friend from high school and the years that followed took off years ago to live up north. Being that they’re the original “internet geeks” dating back to the good old BBS days, they stayed in touch by computer.

John Altinger
was the original BBS/internet geek, and remained that way throughout life. He would use the internet for everything from dating to purchasing power, so it’s no surprise, then, that it looks to have led to his death.
John has been missing since October 10th. Stories have now just run in a smattering of Canadian press about the sensational case. John was allegedly murdered by a guy making horror movies in his garage. Word amongst friends is… John was known to have been answering a lot of Craigslist ads — personal and otherwise — of late. The fellow in the garage apparently successfully “lured” another man there, who fled a vicious attack but never filed charges (there were witnesses who reported the incident). The police are looking for the other man still.
Apparently garage guy wore a hockey mask for man one’s attack. John’s body has not been found but police feel there is sufficient evidence to charge Mark Andrew Twitchell with John Altinger’s death.
John was an awesome guy. Total dork with zero social cool, but an awesome person. If anyone was trusting, he’s the guy. Now he’s dead.
News will break in the months ahead as evidence comes to light, but if social networks and friends have anything to contribute to the mix, it’s that John was doing the Craigslist buying thing, and that’s how he showed up at some stranger’s garage, since news reports that neither man knew the other. Presumably, it seems, he arrived merely to be filmed in his very own horror movie by some fucking asshat amateur “director” who doesn’t grasp that there are makeup guys that make those victims, not, you know, asshat amateurs with garage implements.
Sigh. Dead. What a fucking waste, like striking another good young person off the list is really what we needed.
We like to think we “know” people on the internet. Oh, if they’re that great in conversation, wow, they must be a fantastic person! Or, hey, murderers don’t use Craigslist, they use, right? God forbid rapists and murderers go mainstream, because then we might never guess who they are!
It’s like I said when my old friend died back in April. They call them “accidents” when we get washed down a river like he was on a sunny spring day of quad-biking by the shore, because we never intend for this shit to happen. Hence, accident. Hence it being tragedy. When it comes to murder by stranger, well, people are nice until they’re not nice anymore, aren’t they? Past may be prologue, but when all you know of their past is what THEY tell you, well, how reliable is the narrator after all?
I assume the worst about everyone until I meet them, even then it’s hard for them to gain my implicit trust. Because I know bad people are out there. I know one in four relationships is abusive and violent. I know one in four women has been sexually assaulted. I embrace fear because fear keeps me alive. It doesn’t run me, by any stretch, but it certainly influences my decisions and tempers my actions.
I don’t trust most people on the internet. Yeah, the Twitter folk all nice in chat. The commenters tend to be swell. Like that’s hard to do in short stretches? Like 140 characters really says anything? Like electronic media can tingle the Spidey sense?  It’s why I keep myself unlisted in phone directories after having had my name outted by a fuckwit long ago. When it comes to meeting people in real life, I never trust the wrong ones, because I go on subtext as we get to know each other over drinks. When you have so little to go on, subtext is everything.
I don’t know. It’s going to be a while before I list anything for sale on Craigslist. After all, single female living in an old-school apartment solo? How many shades of vulnerable could I be? I’ve always been trusting.
But now a friend has become a murder victim. Now I know.
It’s a reminder to us all. Evil lurks out there. Madeye Moody of Harry Potter fame had it right: Constant vigilance! John’s enough as far as stories-at-eleven are concerned. RIP, buddy.
And I hope you get yours, Mark Andrew Twitchell, alleged murderer, you.
ED NOTE: New speculation has it that Twitchell may have posed as a woman and lured him to “pick her up” for a date. We’ve always known the net was a vulnerable place for women, but now it appears to be for men as well.

2 thoughts on “Internet Murder, Story at 11: The Death of a Friend

  1. JonV

    Sorry to hear about your friend, I heard about the story on Global news last week. Just horrible.
    I agree with what you are saying about trust. Very hard for me to do, I learned when I was 19 but some people never learn.
    I found your blog from Twitter. Always nice to find another Vancouverite on Twitter. 🙂
    (That’s a nice person smile, not an asshat weirdo smile!)

  2. Kat

    Honestly I agree that digital intimacy is really a hard notion to swallow when the amount of masked thieves, murderers are now brought right into your home via your net connection. I honestly do agree that 140 characters says nothing about my true character and so thats why the idea of a “twittermeet” has to be done with caution and care.
    Honestly, not to discount the tragedy of this, I do think that the tried and true method of “meeting in public *and* staying in public” is the best way to ensure that things stay safe for your meeting.
    Im really sorry that this hit close to you. Hope your brother is only a hop skip and jump away. He may need support for quite some time. Who better than his sis?

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