Washington state detectives are investigating photos of a murder victim uploaded to the online image community 4chan that were purportedly taken by the killer. The pictures, whose credibility police are still investigating, were posted on the controversial website more than a half hour before the police discovered the victim’s body.
Kitsap County sheriff’s deputies arrived at an apartment at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon to find a woman in her 30s dead of apparent strangulation. Their arrival at the unnamed victim’s home came more than 30 minutes after a post on 4Chan included gruesome images of a naked woman accompanied by a disturbing caption.
“Turns out its [sic] way harder to strangle someone to death than it looks. Check the news in Port Orchard, Washington in a few hours. Her son will be home from school soon. He’ll find her, then call the cops. I just wanted to share the pics before they find me.”
A murder done by somebody from 4chan? Sounds possible, but quite likely a hoax.
â€” Riven Homewood (@rivenhomewood) November 5, 2014
Again, police have not confirmed that the victim shown in the pictures (which have since been removed) is in fact the same woman who was found dead in her home. Pictures were also sent to KING-TV in Seattle, the first to report the story, and other local outlets via social media.
“We do not believe this was a random assault. We believe this person was targeted by a yet-to-be determined other person,” Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Wilson told KING.
“Any time we have images of this graphic nature that are posted on social media, and purport to be this crime scene, we are going to take those seriously. But we are unable to confirm whether those photographs are of this victim right now.”
.@Twitter note: apparently people are posting pics of a murder, done by someone from 4chan. Be careful online today. Avoid.
â€” CPI (@DJCPI) November 5, 2014
While not driven by any shared ideology, 4Chan and similar sites have come to represent the dark cesspool that lingers on the Internet’s underbelly. It’s the same site where hackers congregated to share and discuss stolen, nude images of celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton. It’s also been used as a podium for hate speech, with hackers also threatening to leak Emma Watson’s personal photos after she delivered a stirring pro-feminism speech at the United Nations.
This also comes after criminologists from Birmingham City University in England published new research examining how social media, specifically Facebook, has increasingly played a part in motivating people to harm or even kill others.