A Deadly Deception

Recently, blogger ADoc2Be left a comment on one of my crime posts that relayed a story about a young person that she was concerned about.  The teen had been having explicit conversations with someone that she believed to be a peer via social media. 

Despite, ADoc2be's warning that folks on the Internet are certainly not always who they say they are, the young person was not worried.

I replied that I believe teens could use specific examples of the Internet preying that goes on--to help some of them realize that the world can be a dangerous place.

When I saw the following story, I immediately thought: Now this is a story that could be used to meaningfully illustrate danger to teens pursuing online love interests.

March 30, 2010
Caddo Parish, Louisiana

A twelve-year old boy, spending the night at a friend's house during spring break, is excited about a new girl that he met via Facebook. 

His friend sees the teen texting someone at around 3 am before the friend falls asleep.

The last text reads: "I will send a cab over for you."

Pumped, the teen slips out of the house and waits outside for his transport to a romantic rendezvous.

A short while later, the cab arrives, and the teen enters the vehicle.  A male driver and his young passenger then disappear into the darkness.     


Unfortunately, authorities believe the kid, twelve-year old Justin Bloxum, was strangled to death within two hours of getting into the cab. 

They allege that registered sex offender Brian Douglas Horn was behind the gruesome ruse.

Police assert that Horn was posing as a young girl via Facebook to attract young boys, and that he baited the young Bloxum into the meeting that fateful morning. 

What was Horn's job that allegedly allowed him to facilitate this evil?

Brian Douglas Horn was cab driver.


You can read more about this horrible story by going here--including a sheriff's deputy that encountered Horn after seeing his cab parked near a wooded area and that Horn had previously served prison time in both Missouri and Louisiana for sexual assault (reduced from rape) and indecent behavior.  

The photo is from the Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office.


Momma Fargo said...

Very sad and all too familiar. Online predators are like putting your baited fishing line in a fish tank full of starving sharks.

Jackie said...

Very sad, and a story that is becoming all too common. Kids think they're invincible and it will never happen to them. Sit in a teen chat room for an hour on any given night. You'll get dozens of e-mail address linked to their facebook pages and even phone numbers. Some of which can quickly be reversed check to an actually address with no special equipment or training needed. Kids just don't know the deadly consequences that they face when they post this kind of personal info online

Thanks for trying to keep them safe...


Jayne said...

When the internet first came about I went in a few chat rooms just to see what's what. It was quite fun, until one day I came across a young girl heading down the road of giving personal details to a boy/man in the room. I privately messaged her to be very careful and that she really shouldn't go any further down that road, but she said she knew what she was doing. That was my last visit to a chat room. Over the years I've thought of all kinds of scenarios to explain what was going on that day, from the facts as presented (girl gives boy telephone number and who knows what happens next?), to maybe the rather fantastical notion of a police operation to mop up paedophiles. This story adds another dimension. Were the people who were about to exchange numbers even of the gender they had listed?

There have always been bad people in the world but the internet invites them into the heart of our homes. It's something that terrifies me with regard to the trust and innocence of children.

My Husband's Watching TV... said...

UGH! His photo makes me sick, he looks like he's smirking in it! I'm sure you've heard of the Megan Meier/MySpace case, right? Not quite the same, more along the lines of cyber bullying, but anyways that case happened in the town that I work at. They were members where I work, the neighborhood in our backyard, one of our staff person was the one to find her and start CPR...anyways, the Internet is both great but horribly evil and it's hard to figure out who you can and can't trust.

BobKat said...

oweThanks Slam... a sobering reminder! Question is... have internet sites like Facebook made things safer by removing these predators? Yet? And if so, what about the sad statistics that most young people who are victimized are done so by someone they know... a family member?

The internet is no different than being alone in a strange place, trying to make new friends... you never quite know who a stranger really is. That's why commonsense somehow needs to be taught, along with opening chains of communication between parents, teachers, counselors and siblings is so important. Communication... so important.

I'm reminded of the parents out there who forbid the use of the internet to their children... which I think is a sad, counter-productive stance... I'm also reminded of parents who find the tools to monitor all interactions their child does online. That's okay, but how about, teaching children "street-smarts"... is that a possibility? Or, not being a parent myself, am I missing the boat, here?

Ann T. said...

Dear Slamdunk,
This post is so powerful an example. All the more powerful for being stated matter-of-factly.

Everyone's comment is good. I want to comment on BobKat's comment though, because his suggestion makes the supervision by parents active rather than passive.

By forbidding sites, on computer or by dictum, parents have some control but nobody learns anything. Teaching street smarts means everybody has to sit together or review hazards ahead of time--and make an avenue for more discussion as things come up. The kid ends up even showing the parent more examples.

BTW, I saw they are re-opening the case of the first milk-carton child--Etan Patz--who disappeared at age 6.

Wonderfully written and terribly current,
Ann T.

Herding Cats said...

Kids need to be taught about internet predators from the time they first jump on a computer. That story just frightens me...

LadyFi said...

Oh, how terrible! We all need to be careful of our teens and help them navigate the murky water of the Internet.

J. J. in Phila said...

A stunning terrible situation.

carma said...

yeah, that sure hits it home; sick sick sick

I'm thrilled my son is not on FB

Krista said...

Oh, my goodness! What a valuable and, unfortunately, necessary reminder!

Land of shimp said...

My son is nineteen, and I am still having conversations with him about this very thing. Not that I fear a predator at this stage, but rather an unscrupulous person.

You know, I love the internet, but I do think that the sort of people I encounter have a lot to do with what I'm actually using the internet for, in the long run. I read blogs and message boards about a couple of shows that I like, that's it. Well, and I read the news also but mostly I'm on the internet to discuss very mundane subjects.

Yet I've still encountered people from time-to-time who set off red flags. The truth is, these are just people out in the world. The only two semi-stalkers (I say semi because basically what they did came closer to irksome, but amusing, rather than dangerous) were both people I encountered in real life. One was my next door neighbor in a long ago apartment complex.

Just saying, we have to remember that threats are as likely, if not more to be in real life. It is something to keep in mind when talking to our kids.

It is incredibly important to monitor our children's online activity (my son is past that stage) but it is very important to teach them how to deal with people in real life.

In the story you outlined, part of the problem was the willingness of this young person to get into a car with someone he did not know. I know it's a cab but without an adult present, it's the same thing.

If the message of "beware online" had been adequately absorbed the boy would have lived. Similarly, if he'd had the real-world "Never get into a car, any car, at any hour of the day with someone you do not know."

Silver Strands said...

Very sad and VERY SCARY. THIS is one reason we keep our computer in the most public area in our house.
Thanks for sharing.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Wow. This is so sad. Thank you for posting it . It's certainly a valuable example.

Luisa Doraz said...

A message in my house...Be careful who you trust...trust no one.

AB HOME Interiors said...

Holy jesus Im so glad I dont have kids. They really dont see the harm in things and as a mother I just dont know how I would ever feel that my child was safe!

Kimi said...

Wow! It's just another story (sad to note) that goes on. I'm sorry this one wasn't a happy ending, but could also be a lesson to save a life. Thanks for sharing.

Slamdunk said...

Thanks all.

@ Jackie: I appreciate the teen chat example--sad to hear.

@ My Husband...: Yes, the Meier case is an excellent and sad case of online deception.

@ Ann T: Thanks and I agree with you insight. I also saw that the Patz case was being reopened in the headlines this morning. I hope this is something new on that case.

@ Land of Shimp: Excellent points--communication is critical.

@ BobKat: I think you hit on important topics that parents need to make their own call on: what mix of personal instruction and monitoring are best for their family. The social networking sites seem to do ok in booting sex offenders off of their sites once discovered using their real name--problem is that so many use aliases.

jodeeluna said...

This post chills me to the bone. Just yesterday, one of my middle school students was swooning over a "supposed boyfriend" she was chatting with online. I felt sick inside and warned her. She is a foster child desparate for love. Thank you for reminding me how serious this is!

Confessions of a Mother, Lawyer & Crazy Woman said...

That is awful! So sad. Glad they caught this guy.

Dan said...

No matter the number of examples, kids still have that feeling of being invincible that is hard to overcome.

The real problem is the lack of skepticism in youngsters. Until you learn to verify, you are ripe for picking. Of course judging by the number of scam victims of any age, some people never learn.

-MissC* said...

Hello My name is Miss and I am following you from Momma Fargo's blog. I enjoyed your guest post and am excited to read more of your blog itself!

Anastasia said...

I feel like the parents need to inform their kids of the dangers, and really if they won't listen, block access to facebook and things like that.

But then really sometimes you just can't do enough.

Holly said...

That is so sad and scary and probably all too common. My son is a little young to want have his own electronics (he wants them) but I am not sure what I will do when the time comes. I have never lived anywhere where I have need to rely on cabs...but the few times I have taken them, I always wonder...

Sue said...

Yikes!! Something I will keep in mind when I share the dangers of internet "friendships" with my daughter, who is turning 12 in August.