Mass suicide =/ murder

Wired News

PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) – An unemployed Oregon man who police said used an Internet chat room to arrange a mass suicide pact with dozens of people on Valentine’s Day was charged on Friday with trying to solicit aggravated murder.

Authorities seized the man’s computer and are scouring it to identify and contact potential participants in the mass suicide to make sure they are safe, Klamath County Sheriff Capt. Chris Montenaro said.

Perhaps the arrest, the seizure of the computer and the odd charge (what the hell is “aggravated murder” – “I murdered him but it wasn’t aggravating” just seems implausible) are just an excuse to use the police power to track down the participants and get them help if they want it. If so, it’s the kind of violation of liberty in the case of a victimless crime that we’ve all come to expect. Perhaps they are trying to make sure that none of the other participants are planning, as the Canadian woman was, to take other people with them. If that’s the case, it’s fully legitimate to try and use reasonable means to stop such a serious crime, but it doesn’t necessarily indicate that the ‘organizer’ of the pact ever intended that it include murder as opposed to suicide.

On the other hand, if they actually intend to prosecute this guy and send him to prison for 10 to 30 years for nothing more than getting a group of people to agree to a date for something they all planned to do anyway, well, doesn’t that seem like a bit of, pardon the choice of words, overkill?

Update: This changes things some:

Krein was looking for women and children to join in the suicide, said sheriff’s Capt. Chris Montenaro. Investigators believe the total number, including Krein, was 32, Montenaro said.

If he was encouraging kids to commit suicide or encouraging women to kill their kids before taking their own lives, that’s completely different from what was initially reported.

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