For decades, criminal stalkers have used remote access to public records to facilitate crimes that lead to the violent death of their victims. Remote electronic access to the California Department of Motor vehicle database facilitated the murder of actress Rebecca Schaeffer 1987. Federal legislators recognized the link and passed the Driver Protection Act to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again.
Ten years later, Liam Youens used public records available from a "public records" website to stalk and kill twenty-year-old college student Amy Boyer.
At 4:30 p.m. Oct. 15, 1999, Amy left her job at a dental office. As she was getting into her car, Youens pulled up, jumped from his vehicle and fired 15 shots into her. Her injuries included a fatal head wound. Youens used the 16th bullet to shoot himself in the head.
The reason we know so much about Youens is that he documented his plans to murder Amy on a web site he created to publish his sick desires.Youens wrote on his site, "I found an internet site to do that, and to my surprize everything else under the Sun. Most importantly: her current employment. It's accually(sp) obsene (sp)what you can find out about a person on the internet.
A few days later, Youens carried out his plans to murder the young woman, but criminal abuse of Amy's privacy didn't end with her death.
Two days after the Boyer murder made the news, identity thieves again used the records to assume the dead girl's identity and write $5,000 in checks in her name.
Although it is difficult to track, a report from the US Attorney General's Office noted that "there may be potentially tens or even hundreds of thousands of victims of recent cyberstalking incidents in the United States."
You - or someone you love could be the next victim of cyber stalkers and the Web sites that help them.