The Toronto Star
Tuesday, March 11, 1997

Pair meet on Net, then die here in suicide pact

by Philip Mascoll

A relationship that started on the Internet has ended in a double suicide.

The pair met in cyberspace but saw each other for the first time just two days before their deaths in a downtown Toronto hotel.

A Chicago man and a 21-year-old man from Orillia were found dead just after 5 p.m. Sunday at the Howard Johnson Hotel at Carlton and Yonge Sts., said Metro police Sergeant Nigel Fontaine.

The pair used a "suicide chat room" on the Internet, where they also got a recipe for the deadly cocktail of drugs used in the double suicide, he said.

Officers were checking the pair's computer files and e-mail.

During an autopsy yesterday, pathologists and Metro police discovered the Chicago man was undergoing a sex change.

Investigators in Metro have discovered through interviews with the Orillia man's family and through notes found in the hotel room that the couple started a relationship on the Net "two or three months ago", Fontaine said.

The Orillia man was obsessed with computers and spent hours on the Internet, his brother said.

He had been depressed for about two years and had attempted to kill himself before.

On Friday, the pair met for the first time in Toronto and booked into the hotel about 5:30 p.m.

Fontaine said as far as police can determine the pair spent "normal Friday and Saturday evenings".

Police are still trying to trace their movements.

"The room was cleaned and made up on Saturday afternoon at about 5:30 (p.m.) and there were no indications that anything was wrong.

"However on Sunday, when a staffer went to clean the room, the door was double bolted", he said.

The staffer called management and a bolt cutter was used.

Fontaine said the pair were lying hand in hand with soft music playing.

"There were some writings in the room and pills, medication", Fontaine said.

Police monitor the Internet for such things as hate literature and pornography but not suicide, he said.

"Suicide is not an crime", he said.

"It's a tragedy, very sad, that these people were not able to get help."

Police are waiting for toxicology tests to determine what drugs were used, said Sergeant Marilyn McGann.

Neville Twine of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention said the Internet, "as an uncontrollable medium, is a serious issue".

It can be "a breeding ground for suicidal ideas with little or no way of either monitoring or preventing the act", he said.

"It brings people together in an anonymous way to talk about various ways to deal with the issue of suicide and their own pain."

The association will today open a new website - http://www3.sympatico.ca/masecard - designed to deal with suicide in an on-line world.

Neville is unsure just how effective the website will be.


Copyright © 1997 by The Toronto Star All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.