Police say William Melchert-Dinkel posed online as female nurses named "Cami," "Dragon Girl" and "Li Dao" to persuade a Canadian and an Englishman to commit suicide. Now, after months of legal wrangling, he's pleaded not guilty charges.
He failed earlier this month to persuade a judge that the charges should be thrown out because his activities were constitutionally protected free speech.[jump]
Police began investigating Melchert-Dinkel in 2008 after a tipster notified the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, based in St. Paul. He was using aliases to communicate with people using suicide chat rooms, the tipster said.
"Mark had had a nervous breakdown and he was depressed and incredibly susceptible. This person was there whispering in his ear every time he logged on," Drybrough's mother told the U.K. Daily Mail in May. "In the last e-mail, this person claimed to be a nurse, saying he had medical training, and proposed a suicide pact."
The investigation began when Celia Blay, in Wiltshire, UK, told the Saint Paul police department that a person had been encouraging people to take their own lives on an internet forum.
The Sunday Mercury newspaper in the UK reported that he tried to snare Kat Lowe in 2008.
Kat was hooked on heroin and had lost her home when she turned to online suicide chatrooms. Melchert Dinkel soon homed in on her vulnerability.
In one chilling exchange over the internet, which Kat recorded, the internet predator said he had helped a man from the Birmingham area to kill himself. It is believed this was Mark Drybrough.
Melchert-Dinkel's lawyer said he plans to continue to use use a freedom-of-speech defense at trial.