Cyberfeud Turns Deadly: Info for Parents

Two girls' cyberspace feud over a boy culminated in a lethal confrontation.

ByABC News
November 19, 2010, 2:42 PM

Nov. 19, 2010 — -- Sarah Ludemann and Rachel Wade had many things in common, including the same boyfriend, Joshua Camacho.

The two Florida teens learned of each other through MySpace, and then used the Web as a place to taunt and attack each other with cruel words and photos. As Camacho continued to date both of them, the animosity between the two girls escalated, creating a volatile mix of teenage passion and angst.

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It all came to a head on a fateful night in April 2009. When the teens confronted each other face to face, words turned into blows, and tragically ended in Sarah Ludemann's death.

Gender is very important when it comes to violence, particularly homicide, according to University of Southern Florida criminology professor Kathleen Heide.

"Girls and adult women [are] much more likely to be involved in violence and in homicide, in terms of relationships -- boyfriends, family, friends," said Heide. "You don't typically see girls involved in robbery, homicides, unless they've hooked up with a boy or a man."

Teen violence experts say the Internet and other social technology like text messaging have added fuel to the fire when it comes to girl-on-girl aggression and violence.

To start, girls are more likely to post online videos and personal information than boys, and feuds online more often become emotionally charged.

The "effect of the technology is people will say things on texting, they'll say it on e-mail, they would never say face to face, because it's just very easy to hurl some insult because the person's not in front of you," Heide said.Bolder insults, curses and death threats, she said, are more common in cyberspace. And since altercations are no longer limited to school hallways, teens don't have a chance to cool off.

"When they're nineteen, eighteen, their ability to regulate strong feelings is not what it is for an adult. ...It's like they can't put the brakes on," Heide said.

In the case of Wade and Ludemann, the exchange of vicious text and voice messages amped them up emotionally, Heide said, so when the teens came face to face, Wade's rage spiraled out of control and ended in tragedy.