My boss at b5media, whom I greatly respect, has suggested that maybe a ‘best of 2008’ type post is in order. Unfortunately this site isn’t the kind that has ‘best of’ stories per se. However we did have two really huge stories this year that seemed to grab more attention than the others.
The first that leaps to mind is the disappearance and death of Brooke Bennett.
Brooke Bennett was a 12-year-old girl from Vermont who disappeared back in June. It was originally thought that she ran off with someone she met on MySpace. Unfortunately after her body was found it appeared that her sex offender uncle, Michael Jacques, had altered her MySpace to make it look like she ran away. It didn’t end there though because the case has had as many twist and turns as a roller coaster.
When Jacques first became a person of interest in the case he contacted Brooke’s ex-stepfather Ray Gagnon. Gagnon traveled from Texas, where he lived, to Vermont. While in Vermont he phoned home to Texas and asked his landlord to dispose of a computer that Gagnon owned. That computer is alleged to have a vast cache of child porn on it and has not been recovered. Gagnon has also been arrested for destruction of evidence.
The state of Vermont does not have the death penalty but the feds have taken charge in this case since using Brooke’s MySpace while committing a capital crime is technically crossing state lines where it then became a federal case making Jacques eligible for the death penalty.
The attention garnered by this story not only caused me to close down an epic thread because there were too many comments and caused me to open my message board again. Any details you may want to know about this case can be found at either of those two links.
The other big story of the year was the recorded beating of Victoria Lindsay. Back in April 16-year-old Lindsay of Polk County, Florida was lured to a friends house where she was beaten by several girls that she believed were her friends. The beating was recorded on one of the suspect’s cell phones. Originally it was thought that the assault was recorded in order to post to MySpace and YouTube in order to further humiliate the victim.
This was a case that was tailor made for the daytime TV talk shows. As a matter of fact it was so made for daytime TV that a staff member of the Dr. Phil Show bailed out one of the suspects. Allegedly that staff member did so without the permission of the show.
Since the original offense some of the suspects have been arrested again for other unrelated offenses. One of the suspect’s mother has even filed a lawsuit against police for allegedly acting inappropriately.
The most important thing in my opinion that has happened in 2008 is that there have been less stories reported about crimes as they relate to social networking sites. I hope that’s because of there have actually been less crimes and not just because the media is tired of reporting on them.
Here’s hoping that in 2009 you don’t find your name on these pages.