Crime Confessions &#0151 Blog Style

Sports Editor
The Signal Online
Georgia State University

“I did it.”

These three words, written in the blog of 17-year-old Blake Ranking, implicated him in the death of his friend Jason Coker in October 2004. The teen had been riding home from a party the previous night and drunkenly grabbed the wheel from designated driver and friend Nicole Robinette, flipping the vehicle. While Ranking left the accident with little injury, Coker was killed and Robinette was hospitalized. Despite his later arguments that his admittance was taken out of context, Ranking’s tell-all confession to his blog was used as evidence against him and he was forced to plead guilty in court.

Ranking’s case is certainly not unique. Criminal blog confessions are becoming a popular trend. Michael Mullen, a criminal in his own right and a former victim of sexual abuse, chose to take justice into his own hands when he shot and killed two convicted sex offenders. Proud of his vengeful success, Mullen posted this to his own AOL blog: “I am Agent Life! And I alone [am] responsible for the deaths of the two level three pedophiles in Bellingham Washington, and they are not the last to be executed unless things change for the better.”

One explanation for the evident confessions of these felon bloggers is catharsis via an environment they believe is safe. After years of posting one’s innermost thoughts to the massive internet public, the initial cautious coating wears thin for many. These people _” and most college students know some _” often relate tales of their sexual exploits, verbally trash the very friends who have access to their blogs and even confess to crimes, forgetting that even dusty old lawyers know how to Google them and access their online journals.

In some cases, blogs have lately been used to solve crimes not through confession by the criminal but through evidence in the victim’s blog. In late May of this year in Queens, NY, Simon Ng, 19, posted this to his blog:

“Anyway today has been weird, at 3 some guy ringed the bell. I went down and recognized it was my sister’s former boyfriend … He is still here right now, smoking, walking all around the house with his shoes on which btw I just washed the floor 2 days ago! Hopefully he will leave soon.”

According to reports, a short time after Ng posted the entry, he and his sister were murdered in their home. The ex-boyfriend was charged with both killings.

Blogs have become a blessing and a curse to society. While a badly-timed-or-worded blog entry can incriminate a blogger with something with which they may or may not have even been associated, the benefit is that these slips-of-the-key have helped solve crimes that may not otherwise have been solved. As long as criminals continue to be invited into the blogging community and remain as candid as most people are in their journals, there will be evidence linking them to the crimes they have committed.

One disconcerting element to these online chronicles is that all but one of the journal entries mentioned were almost immediately deleted by the poster. However, some quick reader captured a screenshot or emailed a lawyer and, as a result, the confession had already been documented.

The lesson learned from these seemingly stupid criminals who just needed to vent? There will always be someone watching your blog, no matter how safe you think you are. Consider that next time you recount your drunken romp with the football team in your supposedly friends-only online sanctuary.