Today was the second time I stumbled onto an online confession regarding a possibly missing person.
The first, you may very well be familiar with, as it got quite a bit of national press. It involves a blog called PostSecret, that encourages readers to confess their secrets on one side of a postcard and mail them in. The postcards are scanned and displayed on the site, with no identifiable information about who sent them.
The typical secret will be someone admitting their lust for someone who is married, or expressing disgust with their neighbors.
One, however, contained a close-up Google Earth map showing a wooded area along a river. Taped to the map was a note that read “I said she dumped me, but really, I dumped her (body). An arrow was drawn pointing to a specific point on the map.
Authorities believed this image was of Jackson Park in Chicago, Illinois. They searched the park and found nothing. They now believe this was a hoax.
The second online confession I found is an audio confession (it’s not graphic or gory) which alludes to the murder in a mostly unknown case from Florida. This doesn’t sound like a hoax to me, it sounds like someone who wanted to relieve herself of guilt. Although she doesn’t exactly come out and say she killed this person, she certainly insinuates it. I am trying to determine if this woman is still missing or not. It’s hard to tell, because there was never much publicity. One of her family members posted a query on Ancestry back in 2001, and was apparently trying to locate her, but was unsure of how to spell her name. She is listed on the Florida State Missing Persons site, and on Official Cold Case Investigations, but I do not see her anywhere else.
I am not posting her name here until I can determine her status, but you can certainly see and hear it in the confession or at one of the links.
Anyway, the concept of online confessions is a tough one to ponder.
It’s a way for a perpetrator who wants peace for their victim’s family to give up what the family wants more than anything – the victim’s location – without putting themselves in jeopardy.
Of course, it’s not ideal for someone to have committed such a horrific crime and get away with it, but I think it beats the alternative of the perpetrator (or witness) saying nothing at all.
On the other hand, it provides a great opportunity for kids with too much time on their hands to create hoaxes, or even for the perpetrators themselves to try to steer law enforcement in the wrong direction by pretending to be the missing person, or what not.
I guess it’s really no different from an anonymous tip line, except that I think it takes far more courage to actually call and speak to someone than to hide behind an anonymous screen name.
One thing I’ve noticed, just in my own attempts to contact law enforcement with possible matches, questions, requests for photos, etc. is that it’s difficult to find a way to contact most Missing Persons personnel online. There’s usually a phone number, but rarely an email address or contact form.
Regardless of the potential for hoaxes, I think law enforcement is going to need to develop a stronger online accessibility sooner rather than later. Whether we like it or not, outgoing phone calls are quickly becoming an annoyance. I admit I’m guilty. After booking airfare, hotel, rental car, dinner/show reservations online, I’m annoyed when I have to call to reserve boarding for my pets.
Since I don’t have any cases quite ready to post, I thought I’d just throw this out there and see what you guys think about it.