Last time we saw this kind of story, it involved a suburban mother who pushed a neighborhood teen into killing herself. Lori Drew avoided a felony conviction in that case, mainly because the laws in Missouri never predicted such strange behavior. Now it’s Minnesota’s turn, as a nurse may get charged with influencing an 18-year-old Canadian girl to hang herself:
Police in Minnesota expect to charge the man who allegedly encouraged 18-year-old Nadia Kajouji to kill herself over the Internet in about two weeks.
Peter Panos, the spokesman for the police department in Saint Paul, Minn., said Saturday that if they do charge William Melchert-Dinkel, it would be the first time anyone is prosecuted under a Minnesota law for encouraging someone to commit suicide over the Internet. …
Transcripts of their online conversations show Mr. Melchert-Dinkel, a troubled 46-year-old practical nurse, recommended that Ms. Kajouji, who was depressed, kill herself by hanging.
In the sordid messages, he said he would tell her exactly what to use and how to do it.
In one message, he told her to look around her “apartment for somewhere to hang from.”
Counselling a person to commit suicide is a crime, both under the Canadian Criminal Code and under a Minnesota statute.
Melchert-Dinkel didn’t just target Nadia Kajouji, either. According to the National Post, he had other pen pals on line, encouraging them to kill themselves as well. He may be the first serial suicide-inciter of the modern age. “Troubled” doesn’t begin to describe it, and one has to wonder whether a look into Melchert-Dinkel’s former patients might not be a good idea. Any unexplained deaths or suicides should get a new look.
Melchert-Dinkel could face 15 years in prison, either in Minnesota or in Canada, depending on which jurisdiction wants to try him. I’d bet on Minnesota. Kajouji may have committed suicide in Canada, but Melchert-Dinkel committed his crimes here.
Let’s hope the rest of M-D’s correspondents get some help.
Update: I mistakenly wrote that Kajouji was a student at Carleton College in Minnesota. She attended Carleton University in Canada. My apologies for the misunderstanding.