Oct. 16, 2009 -- A Minnesota nurse whose license was revoked by the state is under investigation for allegedly encouraging the suicides of people he met on the Internet.
William Melchert-Dinkel, 47, has not yet been charged, but the case has drawn the attention of the U.S. Attorney's Office and several Minnesota law enforcement agencies after as many as five people attempted suicide or successfully completed the act.
Melchert-Dinkel's license was revoked by the Minnesota Board of Nursing in June in light of the police investigation and after years of reprimands and documented infractions. The license had been suspended since February.
According to the nursing board's public action document, it received a complaint in August 2008 that Melchert-Dinkel was under investigation by the St. Paul, Minn., Police Department for allegedly using fake identifies on the Internet and encourgaing people to kill themselves, sometimes watching the suicides via webcam.
The complainant, according to the document, was the mother of a 32-year-old man who, she said, had hanged himself after corresponding with Melchert-Dinkel online.
In January 2009, Melchert-Dinkel was admitted to a hospital, the admissions survey noting that he was "dealing with addiction to suicide Internet sites," and, "feeling guilty because of past and present advice to those on the Internet of how to end their lives."
The nursing assessment also noted that Melchert-Dinkel had a four-year "suicide fetish" and had posed as a 28-year-old woman on the Internet in order to make suicide pacts with others even though he had no intention of following through on his end.
A medical record from that time indicated Melchert-Dinkel was involved with an Ottawa woman who jumped to her death after talking with Melchert-Dinkel online. He reportedly also told individuals that his nursing experience gave him "expert knowledge into the most effective ways to kill yourself."
Reached by phone, Melchert-Dinkel declined to comment to ABC News about his job or the allegations against him.
"What they said was all nothing new," he said of the information contained in the Board of Nursing document.
Nurse Questioned in Suicides Has History of Reprimands
Also included in the Board of Nursing document is a lengthy list of on-the-job reprimands and accusations of neglect dating back to 1994 -- three years after Melchert-Dinkel got his license -- when he was working at a Minneapolis nursing home.
At various times over the past 15 years, Melchert-Dinkel was reported for things such as failing to administer and document patient medications, having "disrespect for cultural differences" and abusing his patients.
Faribault, Minn., Police Capt. Neal Pederson said that police have checked with Melchert-Dinkel's former employers, including a Faribault nursing home, but there have been no reports of suicides or attempts at those places.
His department has assisted officials from both St. Paul, Minn., and the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation. The issue of what to do with the information against Melchert-Dinkel is problematic on several fronts, he said.
"Part of it has to do with the international [aspect]: Is Canada going to charge him or are we going to charge him," he said.
The Board of Nursing document indicated another person in England had committed suicide after corresponding with Melchert-Dinkel.
Authorities, Pederson said, are also trying to figure out which specific laws Melchert-Dinkel may have broken. While it is illegal in Minnesota to encourage suicide, there is no such federal law. Because Melchert-Dinkel used the Internet and because of the location of some of the suicides, it is unclear which jurisdiction would take precedence.
Deborah Chevalier, the mother of the 18-year-old Canadian woman who jumped to her death, told ABC's Austin, Minn., affiliate KAAL, "I want him to be found guilty go to jail, and thereby sending a clear message to Internet predators."