Web of Lies is investigating the tragic case of an undergraduate student, Nadia Kajouji, who committed suicide after being encouraged to do so by William Melchert-Dinkel.
The police believe that William Melchert-Dinkel from Faribault, Minnesota, was obsessed with people committing suicide through hanging. He scoured internet suicide forums posing as a female nurse to seek out the most vulnerable and encourage them to kill themselves.
Investigators are unsure how many victims Melchert-Dinkel tried to convince into killing themselves, but they are sure he had a hand in the suicides of 19-year-old Nadia Kajouji and 32-year-old Mark Drybrough.
In March 2008, 19-year-old student Nadia Kajouji of Ottawa, Canada, posted a message on an online suicide forum asking for advice on the best methods to kill herself. She said she wanted her death to be quick and painless and to look like an accident.
Tragically, her message was intercepted by Melchert-Dinkel, who posed as a 31-year-old nurse and claimed to be also suicidal. He pretended to be empathetic to the poor young student and told her he wanted to help.
Unfortunately, he was just using her to fulfil his sick fantasies. He later told cops that he did it “for the thrill of the chase.”
Kajouji told him she wanted to jump into a frozen lake wearing ice skates; this way, her family would think it was an accident. Melchert-Dinkel advised her against this plan but encouraged her to hang herself instead.
He seems to have tried to enter into a suicide pact with Kajouji and also attempted to persuade her to commit suicide immediately. He sent messages which read: “would die today if we could” and “I wish [we both] could die now.”
On March 9, Kajouji told Melchert-Dinkel that she was going to go through with her original plan of jumping off a bridge. He once more tried to persuade her to hang herself instead. That evening Kajouji disappeared, and her remains were found in a frozen Ottawa river six weeks later.
Mark Drybrough of Coventry, England, had suffered from mental health issues for many years when he posted a question to an online forum about how to commit suicide. In July 2005, he complained to the forum that he couldn’t hang himself as he didn’t have “access to anything high up to tie the rope to.”
Melchert-Dinkel advised him how he could hang himself using a door handle. For the next few days, he posed as a “friend” to Drybrough while secretly hoping he would kill himself, which the young man did on July 27.
The police in Minnesota were eventually contacted by a concerned individual who told them an online predator was searching out suicidal people to encourage them to kill themselves.
The police learned that Drybrough and Kajouji had online conversations with someone who had the same IP address. They were then able to track the address down to Melchert-Dinkel. This twisted individual then tried to blame his daughters for the messages before he finally admitted it was him.
William Melchert-Dinkel case was legally tricky
In March 2011, Melchert-Dinkel was convicted of assisting in the suicide of both Kajouji and Dryborough, and he was sentenced to 360 days in prison.
However, in March 2014, the Supreme Court overturned his conviction stating that advising or encouraging suicide over the internet was protected as free speech under the First Amendment.
In October of that year, he was put on trial again and was convicted again. This time he was convicted of assisting the suicide of Mark Drybough, but of attempting to assist the suicide of Nadia Kajouji.
It was decided that as Kajouli had killed herself by jumping into a river as opposed to hanging, then it could be not be determined how much she had been influenced by Melchert-Dinkel’s comments.
Melchert-Dinkel served six months behind bars and was given ten years probation, which his lawyers are still fighting to have overturned. At his sentencing, Melchert-Dinkel apologized for his actions and said he had repented.
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