Saturday 21 October 2017

Internet nurse 'is notorious suicide voyeur'

David Brown in London

MARK Drybrough received his final e-mail at 10.32am. It asked: "Are you all right?" Seconds later he switched off his computer, walked upstairs to his bedroom and hanged himself from a decorator's ladder.

When Mr Drybrough's sister later read through the months of e-mails and chat-room posts stored on the computer, it appeared that the message was the culmination of a suicide pact with a young female nurse.

His mother, Elaine Drybrough (61) of Coventry, England, cannot bring herself to read the exchanges in which her 32-year-old son, an IT technician, was persuaded to take his own life. She said: "My daughter told me that a nurse called Li encouraged Mark to kill himself and said that some people had allowed her to watch before."

Her son had suffered from depression since a bout of glandular fever about eight years earlier. Later he had mental illness diagnosed but his family was not aware that he was suicidal. In the months before his death he became increasingly withdrawn from his friends and family, spending hours every day using the internet on his home-built computer. "When Mark was ill I noticed he was using the computer a lot and I was worried what he was doing," Mrs Drybrough said.

She was right to be concerned. Police believe that the "young woman" who befriended him was a notorious "suicide voyeur".

William Melchert-Dinkel (47), an American nurse with a loving family, allegedly spent years posing as a 20-something woman while trawling the internet for people he could persuade to kill themselves while he watched.

Investigators believe that he may have contacted more than 100 people across the world and that he was involved with at least five who killed themselves. He has allegedly admitted to American police that he was involved in at least four deaths, in addition to that of Mr Drybrough. He is expected to be charged within weeks. Mrs Drybrough said: "This man appointed himself Mark's executioner. He whispered in his ear each time he logged on to the computer. Because of his medical experience he knew exactly who he was looking for, what he was doing, the buttons he needed to push."

Melchert-Dinkel has been exposed by Celia Blay (64) who tracked him down after police refused to intervene.

It was a remarkable achievement for a grandmother who confesses to having little knowledge of the internet and who relies on her son for technical support. Her internet use on the family computer in the village of Maiden Bradley, England, had been confined largely to researching her interest in medieval history.

Executioner

Four years ago a teenage friend of Mrs Blay's confided that she had entered a death pact with a young nurse. "It took months and months to collect the evidence but when I went to the police they just said if it bothers you, look the other way," she said. Mrs Blay's file of evidence was rejected by British police and the FBI said that it did not have the power to investigate. Police in Melchert-Dinkel's home city of St Paul, Minnesota, agreed to take the case and he was later arrested.

Back in Coventry, Mrs Drybrough is angry that her son's "executioner" was able to operate for so many years. "If it were not for Celia, he would still be at it. How many people have died?" (© The Times, London)

Irish Independent

Editors Choice

Also in World News