A US prosecutor is considering criminal charges against a 47-year old Minnesota man for his role in encouraging and assisting online suicides. William Melchert-Dinkel, a registered nurse, has admitted to being "addicted" to suicide chatrooms and reportedly spent years persuading people to kill themselves while he watched. Posing under various assumed names including "Li Dao", "Falcon Girl", and "Cami D", Melchert-Dinkel would recruit vulnerable people and enter into suicide pacts with them. He has confessed to being involved in at least five deaths and is known to have attempted to encourage others. After being arrested, Melchart-Dinkel was admitted to hospital and told nurses about his suicide fetish and offering advice for assisted suicide in several cases. Available transcripts of his online chat sessions describe careful step-by-ste instructions for noose placement and asking potential suicides to watch them kill themselves online.
William Melchert-Dinkel was exposed following the diligent work of a UK grandmother, Celia Bray. After persuading a teenage friend not to take her own life, Bray learned that the friend had entered into a suicide pact with someone online known only as "Li". When police failed to act, she began investigating on her own despite her lack of computer knowledge. After years of investigating, she was able to learn Melchert-Dinkel's home address in Fairbault, Minnesota where he lives with his wife and two daughters. While he has been implicated in the deaths of Mark Drybrough of Coventry, England and Nadia Kajouji of Brampton, Ontario among others, prosecutors are reluctant to lay charges due to potential First Amendment concerns and the fact that he did not physically assist in the suicides.
Although Melchert-Dinkel was stripped of his nursing license in February, he continues to live at home with his wife and children. Neighbours are reportedly mystified by the accusations and describe him as being quiet and a "great dad". The investigation is ongoing.