My daughter's face was ashen when she revealed to me last night that the murderer of a local 18 year old girl had tried to get her to meet him in person three weeks ago. No, she didn't know him but he was on her Facebook friends list, a "friend of a friend" that she had accepted. Three weeks ago the killer sent my daughter a personal message that "gave her the creeps." Thank God she ignored it and promptly deleted him from her "friends." But what if she hadn't? What if her sixth sense hadn't kicked in, or he wasn't "creepy" but "good looking" and she would have struck up a conversation, or worse, met him in person? What if this person tracked my daughter down, stalked her and then kidnapped her? What if this person was the one ringing our doorbell at all ours and then hiding? What if? What if? What if? I get sick to my stomach just thinking about all the "what ifs." Would our family be forever changed and inconsolable as I'm sure the victim's family are?
Clearly this person had "problems" as evidenced by a comment left on WSLS's site..."i did know shane and he was truely a sick person..he used to tell me all the time he was going to kill someone but i never believed he would actually do something like this…". No one ever thinks something like this would happen in a small town like Roanoke, but I do. I learned quickly years ago that small towns have plenty of psychos living amongst us. When I put my Roanoke zip code in Virginia's registered sex offenders crime base I was horrified to see how many were living right under our noses. When I put my Brooklyn zip code in NY's registered sex offenders, zero came up. There are way more people living in my Brooklyn zip code than my Virginia one. If you need more proof that there are more "weirdos" here take a stroll any night through the Salem Fair. It's scary, and that's why I wouldn't let my daughter go alone with her friends.
When my husband found out the killer had contacted my daughter via Facebook he held her hand tightly as we crossed the parking lot to the restaurant. He wanted to pull the computer away from her. He wanted to chain her to her room. He got up all through the night to check on her. He told her he was taking her up to Potts Mountain to learn how to shoot. I told him to calm down. The girl had done the right thing, this time, and we just had to reinforce all the dangers lurking out there.
Facebook is not your friend. Friends of friends are not your friends. Having 500, 600 or 1,000 friends does not make you popular. It makes you vulnerable. When I first signed on I just accepted anyone who asked me to be their friend. Eventually I realized that was foolish so deleted many. Now I've even gone back and anyone that I don't have some sort of connection to I've deleted. I've gotten requests from people other states that I have no idea who they are other than a common friend of my daughter. When I show her the people and she says she has no idea who they are, I've ignored them. Now I want her to delete them from her friends list. I told her to go through her list and begin deleting people she doesn't know. Just being a friend of a friend doesn't mean they're your friends.
I don't know yet what the connection was between the killer and Cara, but my story should serve as a wake-up call to all parents of teenaged daughters. Hold your babies tight no matter how old they are. Condolences go out to Cara's family. I can't imagine what they're going through right now.