What do criminals post on their feeds? You’ve seen the cute images on social media of babies, puppies and new cars, but there’s no better way to seek validation for violent acts and to spread ideology than to make deadly exploits go viral.
At first thought, it seems counterintuitive. Are they trying to get caught? Do they think only like-minded friends will see, and no one will alert the police? Often it looks like a spur of the moment decision. This generation is so used to sharing every trivial moment of their lives that it’s only right that the most shocking thing they’ve ever done makes the cut.
I’ve found these eight as the best (or worst) real life examples of criminals brazenly showcasing their wrongdoing.
Selfie with the Victim
Maxwell Marion Morton posted a selfie with the dead body of Ryan Mangan on Snapchat. The 16-year-old from the Pittsburgh area was later charged with fatally shooting him. Per Snapchat's feature, the photo was supposed to self-destruct a few seconds after it was viewed, but Morton’s friends saved it.
With the picture showing a bullet hole in Mangan’s face, Morton allegedly wrote, “Told you I cleaned up the shells. Ryan was not the last one.”
Beaten to Death on Facebook
Malik Jones’ Facebook followers must have gotten quite a shock when they saw the video he shared of him and two friends beating Delfino Mora to death. The 62-year-old disabled man was scavenging for cans when Jones punched him in the jaw and his head landed on the pavement.
One might think that they were so shaken by what happened that they’d delete the video and lay low. Nope. The teenagers decided to share it online.
Not so shocking: they were arrested.
Sucker Punching for Sport
It takes a real brave guy to cold cock an unsuspecting person from behind. Now it’s become an international sport.
The “knockout game” is when someone attempts to floor a victim with one punch, often from behind or when they’re least suspecting it. Many times they upload it online and share it with their friends. It’s happened dozens of times in the United States and Europe, sometimes resulting in the death of the victims. Usually, it’s several teenagers against one person. They’ve even targeted elderly women.
H/T: CBS News
Fight Club: The High School Years
Remember when high school fights were stuff of fuzzy memory, where the person telling the story could embellish to sound tougher than they actually were? Now, many school brawls are caught on phone cameras and posted online. Search YouTube for high school fights and the results will run past 300,000.
Someone really should have told these brawlers that it’s illegal to punch and kick people. And that it probably doesn’t look good on a college application either.
Here’s an extreme example in New Mexico where the police are investigating how one high school has become a staging ground for fights on a YouTube channel. Forget teachers, they need referees.
H/T: KRQE News 13
Look What I Just Stole!
Florida is home to some of the nation’s dumbest crooks. Depree Johnson made thinks easy for Palm Beach County police investigating a string of armed break-ins by posting photos with the loot on Instagram. He showed off everything from guns to jewelry to slippers.
Johnson got hit with 142 charges. No lack of evidence there.
Valentine’s Day Cat Punching Memorabilia
As terrible as the above title is, it was real. On Valentine’s Day 2015, someone created a Facebook page of cat abuse, including punching, threats to hurt cats, and an animal on fire.
Facebook canned the page after 30,000 decent human beings signed a petition against it. Yet, the fact that there’s a sizable number of people who enjoy hurting kittens and want to celebrate it on Valentine’s Day says something about how social media can bring like-minded sadists together.
H/T: USA Today
Ice Bucket Challenge with a Cruel Twist
The Ice Bucket Challenge was an incredibly productive way to raise money for the fight against ALS, but five teens in Ohio twisted it around to humiliate a teen with learning disabilities.
They convinced the 15-year-old to strip to his underwear to make the douse of freezing water more dramatic. Instead, they drenched him in urine, feces and cigarette butts.
They posted the video to Instagram. Instead of encouraging donations, they were sharing cruel laughs.
Police didn’t find the prank so funny. They were charged in juvenile court with assault, delinquency and disorderly conduct.
H/T: NY Daily News
The video of a 14-year-old girl in Indianapolis beating a fellow teenage student as she asked “What did I do? What did I do?” quickly rang up more than one million hits. What makes this more surprising than the hair-tugging and head stomping is what the girl filming it did.
Just when it seemed that it was over and the victim tried to leave with her 5-year-old brother, the girl behind the camera dares the bully to go after them again. The bully punches the older girl right in the face. When the young boy tries to intervene, she grabs him around the neck and tosses him to the concrete.
The girl who directed this beating was so proud of her film work that she posted it online. When you’re the one telling a bully to hit a juvenile and a young child, you’re no longer a bystander.
H/T: Pix 11
I researched the phenomenon of violent social media posts as for my thriller Famous After Death as the characters seek viral notoriety for their murders. Like me, you probably noticed a theme here. Most of the criminals are teenagers. Is it something about the millennial generation that has no shame when it comes to sharing their wrongs? Perhaps the youth of any generation would have acted the same way if they had today’s technology. What do you think?
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Brian Bandell is the author of Famous After Death, a thriller about teenagers who make murder go viral, and Mute, a murder mystery with a science fiction twist. He’s also the senior reporter at the South Florida Business Journal and the winner of more than 25 journalism awards.