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[May 09, 2009]
Police affidavit: Nurse who coaxed suicides online may have had more victims
May 09, 2009 (Pioneer Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- A Minnesota man suspected of coaxing a Canadian student to kill herself over the Internet may have had victims in England as well, according to an affidavit for a search warrant filed in Ramsey County.
William Francis Melchert-Dinkel, 46, a nurse from Faribault, has not been charged with a crime, investigators said Friday. However, according to the affidavit, he admitted to using an e-mail address and screen names to advise and encourage suicides and create suicide pacts for at least four years.
Melchert-Dinkel is the subject of an investigation by Minnesota and Canadian police into whether during online chats he encouraged Nadia Kajouji, an 18-year-old student at Carleton University in Ottawa, to hang herself. Kajouji went missing March 9, 2008; she was found dead from an apparent suicide five weeks later in a river near her home.
In a search warrant application and supporting affidavit, St. Paul police Sgt. Bill Haider, an investigator assigned to the Minnesota Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, argued to a Ramsey County judge that investigators needed to search Melchert-Dinkel's computer after receiving a complaint from a woman in England.
The search warrant, signed Jan. 13, was unsealed this week. According to the affidavit: The British woman e-mailed the Minnesota task force in March 2008, claiming someone was using deceptive practices to persuade people, including minors, to commit suicide by hanging. The woman said she believed the person was responsible for persuading at least two people to commit suicide.
She also claimed the person watches the suicides via a webcam.
The woman said she posted a warning about the suspect on the Internet newsgroup alt.suicide.holiday and received several complaints about him. Some were teenagers suffering from depression, she said.
On May 9, 2008, she forwarded Haider an e-mail from a Yahoo account in which the sender described to the recipient the best way to commit suicide by hanging -- including how to tie the knots and where to place the noose on a neck.
"I'm so impresses (sic) with how calm and in order you have everything taken care of ... that is very difficult when you only have one week to live," the forwarded e-mail stated.
The sender also mentioned a suicide pact, writing that he or she hoped to die on the same day as well and would like to die at nearly the same time.
"I'm very much at peace too and have everything taken care of as far as arraingements (sic)... for music Im (sic) having the song "on eagles wings" played ... being highly Christian ... I want spiritual songs played as it is my journey to heaven that will begin then:)," the e-mail stated.
According to the affidavit, a subpoena issued to Yahoo found the e-mail account belonged to Melchert-Dinkel. On Jan. 7, 2009, Melchert-Dinkel told a police officer he had used the e-mail address and the screen names to advise, encourage and create suicide pacts for the past four or five years.
He told the officer he believed he had encouraged about five people to commit suicide, according to the affidavit. Melchert-Dinkel also said he asked to watch via a webcam, although he had not done so.
Minnesota law sets a sentence of up to 15 years in prison for encouraging someone to commit suicide.
Police said in February that they were looking at whether any federal laws, such as those governing the Internet, might have been violated.
The Minnesota Board of Nursing suspended Melchert-Dinkel's license Feb. 18.
Megan Boldt can be reached at 651-228-5495.
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