Thursday, February 09, 2006
The Baltimore MySpace Murder
I hope that my post about the Howard County hooker didn’t set me up as the Baltimore area crime blog, because this blog does it much better. But I liked the Professor Whore story because of its ironic tone. Besides, prostitution is a relatively victimless crime unless you’re the neighbor that has to put up with the traffic and disruption. My post about it was light-hearted and whimsical. This rest of this post is not.
In Baltimore City, over 300 people a year are killed despite the best efforts of the police and the desires of politicians with ambitions for higher office. Every loss of life is tragic, but to rise up to the level of newsworthy in this area, a murder has to have a hook. In what will probably be known in the tabloids as the Baltimore MySpace Murder, the twist is the dangers of on-line dating.
Based on the reports in the Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun, John Christopher Gaumer has been arrested for the murder of Josie Phyllis Brown, a single mother he met through MySpace.com. Allegedly, Gaumer beat her and hid her body in the bushes on the ramp between I-95 and I-695. According to his original story, the two had been drinking at bars in the North Charles Street area and he dropped her off at her home in Hampden area.
Since the body was found, after he led police to the site, on a highway that goes past his home on the UMBC campus in Arbutus, there is more to the story than that. I’m sure more of this will be told since he appears to be cooperating with the police. The Sun article insinuates that Gauner was quite the player, quoting a roommate that remembers Gaumer dating at least ten different women over two years, but never meeting the same woman twice.
The Baltimore Sun article also has a lot of information about both the victim and the alleged killer gleaned from various online “social” sites like MySpace and Facebook. The victim was 27 years old, but many users of MySpace are younger. When I wrote my post about Ugly Xanga Sites I mentioned easily finding profiles and messages of teenagers and kids even younger that gave away sensitive personal information including home addresses and cell phone numbers.
Tragic events also seem grimmer when they happen in places you are familiar with. Back in 2000, Ashley Mason, a 14-year old girl, was stabbed 34 times in the head, neck, and torso and left to die behind a dumpster at a Pizza Hut. When I first read this story, I thought back and realized that my family had eaten at that very Pizza Hut earlier that very evening.
Ashley attended, when she bothered to go, the same high school my son now goes to. A pair of low-life drug-dealing losers she was hanging around were eventually convicted of the murder. They have been appealing the verdict that was based on a confession and the DNA evidence. Thankfully, to no avail so far.
As the parent of a teenager, both of these stories terrify me. My son is a “good kid”, but I feel justified in worrying about who he hangs around and what he does online. I think the parents of Josie Brown and Ashley Mason would understand why.