Wednesday, June 1, 2016

TOP STORY: Police Say Man Posted Photo of Girlfriend’s Body on Facebook; It Lingered for 36 Hours

A Texas man posted a photo of his dead girlfriend’s body on her Facebook page on Sunday after fatally stabbing her as part of a suicide pact, the police say. The image remained on the site for 36 hours before Facebook removed it.

Kenneth Alan AmyxCredit, via Associated Press
The man, Kenneth Alan Amyx, 45, told the authorities that he and his girlfriend, Jennifer Streit-Spears, 43, had discussed a suicide pact for months. They had been drinking at an apartment in Plano, Tex., and had agreed to stab each other until both died, according to a Plano Police Department affidavit. But Ms. Streit-Spears “chickened out,” Mr. Amyx said, and he had to “finish her off,” according to the affidavit.

Officer David Tilley, a spokesman for the department, said that Mr. Amyx not only posted a photo of Ms. Streit-Spears — nude and with her neck cut — on her page, he also posted a selfie of his face covered in blood and the words “Pray for us,” the officer said.

Officer Tilley said the photo of the body was dark, as though the lights had been out and the photo had been taken without a flash. Still, he said, “it was quite disturbing.”

The privacy settings on the Ms. Streit-Spears’s Facebook account did not allow access to the public, Officer Tilley said, though he added, “It’s everywhere for family and friends to see.”

After the stabbing, Mr. Amyx called his father and said: “This is Ken. I love you. We’ve cut our throats,” and gave him the address of the apartment, the affidavit said. Mr. Amyx was charged with murder.
Ms. Streit-Spears’s mother called 911 around 10 a.m. on Sunday after seeing the photos on Facebook and after Mr. Amyx had texted them to her, the police said. But the photos remained on Facebook for about 36 hours, even after Ms. Streit-Spears’s relatives asked the social media giant to remove them.
Facebook, which receives one million reports a week about possible violations of community standards, said the image of the body at first did not appear to violate its policies, because it was not immediately clear what it depicted and that it had been posted by someone other than the account user.

“We remove graphic images when they are shared to celebrate violence,” a Facebook spokeswoman said in a statement. “As soon as it was clear what the facts were behind this photograph, we removed it.”

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Robert J. Thompson, a professor of popular culture at Syracuse University, noted that social media sites were being used in ways that could not have been predicted years ago, adding that the Texas case was not the first time recordings of violent acts had been posted online.

In Florida, Derek Medina posted a photo of his wife’s bloody body on Facebook after shooting her eight times. He was convicted of second-degree murder and was sentenced in February to life in prison.

As for what could lead someone to post incriminating evidence on Facebook to be seen by so many, Mr. Thompson said, “There is no rational answer to it.”

Ms. Streit-Spears’s Facebook page has since been turned into a memoriam page. According to her social media profile, she studied criminal justice at the University of North Texas. She and Mr. Amyx had been dating for about four months, the police affidavit said, before the stabbing.

The couple took turns cutting each other, Mr. Amyx told the authorities, but after she was cut, she became too weak to continue, he said. Officer Tilley said the police found Mr. Amyx naked and bloody in a bedroom. The police initially thought he was dead until he started to make noises. He had superficial cuts and one wound on his neck, which required stitches, the officer said.

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Two knives, one of them a six-inch carving knife, were found at the scene. As he was being taken to the hospital, the police said, Mr. Amyx told a firefighter: Oh, I killed her. Oh, I lost her. I’ll never get her back. Just kill me.”

Mr. Amyx had two outstanding warrants: one accusing him of indecency with a child in Dallas County, and another charging him with sexual abuse of a child under the age of 14 in Rockwall County, according to court records.

Mr. Amyx’s father, Charles, declined to comment on Tuesday night, citing the instructions of his lawyer. In an interview on Tuesday night, Mr. Amyx’s lawyer, Keith Gore, said some things had not yet been disclosed in the case but did not elaborate.
He said he would seek to have his client’s bond reduced; it was set at a total of $600,000 in the murder case and two other cases.

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