In the past few days, a host of web sites and blogs have suddenly taken an interest in this tragic story. Interestingly, these sites condemn what the adult woman allegedly did to the Megan Meier, yet they simultaneously encourage, enable, and facilitate their readers to take similar actions and worse against the adult woman and her family.
These web sites and blogs invariably tell the story from a one-sided perspective and portray the adult woman as a villain who is principally to blame for the suicide. Although this woman has not been convicted, tried, nor even charged with a crime, the sites invariably begin with an assumption of her guilt. They then seek to exact revenge and punishment on her and her family. The comment areas on the sites are filled with hate speech, threats, and lust for vengeance. The general climate is reminiscent of a lynch mob equipped with torches and pitchforks, worked into a self-sustaining rage.
The sites post personal information about the woman and her family such as home and business addresses, e-mail addresses, phone, fax, and cellphone numbers; and encourage their readers to track down more information. This information is posted with no legitimate purpose or rationale for its presence. One can safely conclude the objective is to facilitate illegal harassment, vandalism, or worse.
These sites encourage readers to boycott and destroy the business of the woman's family. Evidently they have not thought this through: Successfully eliminating the family's source of income could result in them being directly supported by these same readers' taxes, through welfare and foodstamps. Of course, no one has accused the bloggers of being very bright in their blood-lust.
Over the past months, the woman and her family have been victimized by illegal harassment, vandalism, bricks thrown through their windows, and false 911 police calls to their home. Note that a brick could easily kill the child or other occupant, and false police calls can result in death of someone elsewhere who really needs the police. Despite such history, or perhaps encouraged by it, the blog sites call for more...
Bluemerle site Let's examine this site first...
The owner of this site, Sarah Wells, is credited wth being one of the first to "break" the names of the family. She states "Why I or anyone would go looking for (woman's name)'s identity is no mystery...It was curiosity and disbelief that led me to search, at first. at first... " (sic) Mrs. Wells never finishes her explanation, and cleverly avoids giving a legitimate rationale for posting the information on the Internet. Moreover, she has allowed address, phone, and fax and cell phone numbers to be posted on her site, along with instructions to "Let (woman's name) know how you feel" She also has instructions posted how to text-message the woman. Sounds a lot like harassment, doesn't it? Isn't that illegal? Sara Wells herself says the woman deserves "scorn."
For days, Mrs. Wells encouraged and fed the vengeful frenzy. She even allowed death threats on her site while selectively deleting other posts which did not meet her approval. (I have archived copies of her site over several days to back up this assertion.) Eventually, Mrs. Wells began to make token disclaimer statements against violence. She eventually removed the death threat posting after repeated entreaties, but apologized to the poster with the comment "Sorry, you are drawing trolls."
As of this morning, the personal contact information is still on Sarah's site. Sarah Wells has simply said the information is there so that "people can get in touch with the woman for legitimate reasons...one may wish to simply know how to avoid her" Sarah Wells believes she is doing a favor of providing this woman's phone number so that we may block her incoming calls. Interesting... The question is: "Would a reasonable person think this information is more likely to be used for legitimate means or criminal harassment?" One can speculate about the true state of Mrs. Wells' mind, but even she herself may not know...
Sarah Wells says "I prefer to be obscure but discoverable. I let it lurk, little monster in the deep, like a seabeast dangling unlit bait, until such time it flashes on the hot-donut sign and draws the little fishes into it's fangtooth maw. For a purpose. Or a service"
To help anyone get in touch with the self-proclaimed "Little Monster" Sarah Wells for "legitimate reasons," here is a little of her discoverable public information. Please be civil to her, although she may respond with less-than-civil name calling. Vengeful people often aren't very nice to talk to.
Sarah Wells is 45 years old, posts under her own name and lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband and teenage son (who I will not name, nor disclose other details about). Her approx. 50-year old husband Michael O. Wells is a well known attorney admired for his role as an imperonator/interpreter of the great patriot, Patrick Henry. He has performed widely in this role and you can see him at St. John's church in Richmond. If you can stomach the thought of his wife's vigilantism, these performances are well worth seeing. As far as I know, Patrick Henry himself did not endorse vigilantism.
406 Waveny Road, Richmond, VA 23229
Michael O. Wells
Smith & Wells, P.C.
1330 Alverser Plaza
Midlothian, VA 23113
tel: 804-794-8070 fax: 804-794-5475
Pictures of Sarah and Michael Wells
Map to her house (will open in a new browser window)
Aerial view of her house (will open in a new browser window)
Photos of her house (coming soon)
Links of original infamous post by Mrs. Wells
Bluemerle: Lori Drew CNN capture - Police report names Drew
Details of other sites and their owners promoting vigilantism and mob justice for Megan Meier will follow. If anyone has suggestions of particularly egregious sites or bloggers, please pass them along, and I will get things rolling.
Jezebel.com has posted stories which have inspired violent reactions and disclosure of private information. One might wonder how their female writers and editors would feel about their own photos, addresses, and phone numbers being publicly posted on the Internet. Fortunately, they do seem to be cooling down a bit after some probing questions. Unfortunately, they are not policing the posters who sound like an al-quaida cell plotting death and destruction.
Gillian has also come around and is policing her Blogging the burbs site. Thank you, Gillian.