How Online Plots Lead to Real World Crimes

'Drooling Over the Prospect'

In sentencing the men, Judge Geoffrey Rivlin, said of the online discussions: "You were drooling over the prospect to take these children into the woods and rape them. These logs were further spiced, if that is the right word, by the swapping of pornographic images of young children," according to the Times of London.

In 2005, Skyler Chambers and his accomplice, Turner Reeves III, were convicted after they discussed online how they wanted to sodomize, rape and kill young girls, and schemed how they could get away with the crimes.

Dan Ferraro, an investigator for the Illinois attorney general, testified that he found 23,000 hits for the word "rape" in Chambers' computer, and downloaded 175 videos of women and girls being raped, according to the Chicago Tribune. He also said they found 1,800 suspected images of child pornography on his computer, and searches Chambers made asking "how to burn a body while keeping odor down" and "how to burn a body in minutes."

David Musgrove, supervisory special agent of the FBI's cybercrime unit, said the bureau is monitoring the uptick in people using the Net to plot real world crimes, but that agents could not just sit and wait in suspicious chat rooms.

"We're in touch with current trends … and we know the sorts of forums that are popular for the online behaviors that are precursors to violent acts," Musgrove said. "However, we can't just troll the Net. We need probable cause."

District Attorney Castor echoed the difficulties in monitoring the Web for criminal conversations: "It is so vast, you simply could not police it," he said.

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