Death threats sent to woman who dressed as Boston Marathon bombing victim for Halloween

Filed Under: Featured, Privacy, Social networks, Twitter

Alicia Ann LynchFor Halloween, Alicia Ann Lynch, a 22-year-old US woman from Michigan, went to work dressed as a victim of the Boston Marathon bombings, clad in sneakers, running shorts, and a race number, splattered with fake blood.

Then, she tweeted and Instagrammed photos of herself.

The costume was, as she quickly admitted, tasteless.

The ensuing backlash, however, has been vicious.

BuzzFeed reached Ms. Lynch on the phone on Sunday.

She confirmed to the site that she has been fired and that both she and her family have received death threats:

I've had voicemails where they want to slit my throat and they want to hang me and tear off my face. … I’m just, like, 'I don’t even know how to respond to this right now.'

Unfortunately, the infuriated online mob soon discovered that the young woman had once posted a photo of her driver's license.

The mob then used that information to further attack Lynch, promising to anonymously send excrement through the mail, contacting her family, and posting nude photos and videos, allegedly of her, that were taken from Tumblr.

The mob found and disseminated her parents' home phone number along with Ms. Lynch's home address. They also tracked down what they thought was her employer and her father's company.

Ms. Lynch told BuzzFeed that strangers reached out to her parents and told her best friend "they’re going to blow up her house and hang her child."

Not all commenters were blood-crazed.

As BuzzFeed's replicated tweets show, some commenters tried to get the mob to calm down and back off:

@HanzBuhnanz:
@SomeSKANKinMI You guys, stop. Cyber bullying another human being is not going to undo her actions. She has apologized.

Hannah@HanzBuhnanz:
@SomeSKANKinMI As someone who ran the marathon, I know that violent, angry responses are exactly what fueled the bombings to begin with.

Ms. Lynch is maintaining a positive attitude, telling BuzzFeed that she made a mistake but has no fears about getting rehired if future employers Google her:

Yeah, I don’t think I’ll have an issue with that. ... It doesn’t really bother me. ... I have nothing to hide. It happened, I made a mistake. I just have to learn from it. I’m not a terrible person.

As a Bostonian myself, and as somebody who has written up far too many (of course, even one would be too many) stories about cyber-bullied suicide victims, I side with the commenter who forgave Ms. Lynch:

@TheTwidster:
@SomeSKANKinMI As a Bostonian, I forgive you. I am glad that you have not killed yourself, and I seriously hope you learned your lesson.

I hope Ms. Lynch is right - I hope she can learn from this and move on.

Unfortunately, getting rehired won't necessarily be all that easy.

Research has uncovered a discrepancy between what young people think is OK to post online and the high percentage of recruiters - 69% - who report finding candidates whom they wouldn't let step through the door, thanks to social media evidence of drinking, drugs, bad-mouthing previous employers, lying on their resumes or a host of other sins.

Posting tawdry material online is career-threatening.

But posting an image of your driver's license and personal information is just not necessary and could be dangerous.

Don't do it, ever. Don't hand the mob the tools it needs to target you or your loved ones.

Image of jack-o-lantern courtesy of Shutterstock.

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18 Responses to Death threats sent to woman who dressed as Boston Marathon bombing victim for Halloween

  1. anon · 288 days ago

    Guess this gives a new meaning the to term "lynch mob"!

  2. Sayvlib · 288 days ago

    It sounds like she may not really understand how the Internet and social media work. I guess it turns out that the Internet and social media are like an online IQ test; this may be why employers look at applicants' online profiles.

  3. JRD · 288 days ago

    It could have been worse.
    It could have been a *sexy* Boston Marathon bombing victim.

  4. John Ryder · 288 days ago

    Those who fail to learn from History are doomed to repeat it..
    1st dumb move by Lynch, posting her drivers license.. Come on man...
    2nd dumb move by Lynch, dressing up as a Boston marathon victim.. Come on man...
    3rd people who are upset at the Boston marathon attack (an act of terrorism) are responding with another act of terrorism (death threats).., Come on man...
    People - Good luck fighting for peace...
    And by the way, to Miss Lynch who almost got lynched - start a blog, I'm guessing your future antics would be equally entertaining

  5. Wolf_Star · 288 days ago

    She made a mistake and has apologized for her insensitivity.
    Hopefully her lack of good judgment will be a lesson to others.

    But as far as being fired...that was uncalled for.

    And receiving death threats and such...from Americans???
    Freedom of speech does not extend to that.

    How far we have fallen when such actions are even lightly entertained.

    Hopefully the authorities will locate and have a very serious "discussion"
    with those who threaten the life and safety of another.

    • Michelle · 287 days ago

      I completely agree and feel this has gone way to far in my eye's. It was a mistake and clearly she has learnt from this. But getting fired only fuelled the story more and I as well pray the authorities catch these idiot's that are scaring a family that made 1 mistake and she clearly has lost allot in this lesson. But well put wolf_Star

  6. I think she and her family should call the FBI for the threats and then sue the criminals who are threating them. This is still America you don't have to like or agree with anyone who does or says something you don't like. She did nothing criminal but what they are doing is.

    • Yeah, sue em, 'merica! Why not just delete the Tumblr, change her home number and just call the police if she sees someone suspicious around her house. I doubt 99% of the people who actually made death threats to her would do it. People feel so much stronger and "cooler" behind their screens.

  7. John C · 288 days ago

    Which is the more egregious breach of civility, posting an extremely tasteless photo or threatening to kill the person who offended you? I would vote for the latter. It's astounding how often we hear of people who express their displeasure by doing something much worse than the act that displeased them. Kudos to those who advocated forgiveness.

  8. Andy · 288 days ago

    This was definitely the wrong thing to do but people making death threats are just as bad despite their Anger, it is only human to make mistakes it only needed to be pointed out. So give the girl a break, she has apologised.

  9. Steve · 288 days ago

    Alicia Ann should have stood up to her costume, arguing a political statement at the face of terrorists: «you may bomb us, we'll keep running and be beautiful !!».

    That's how i choose to view her action.

    Instead, she ran into an uglier by the day America, who ends up importing the woes of their enemies, importing Zombieland.

  10. beth624 · 288 days ago

    The things we once did in bad taste that offended a handful of people now can ruin our lives practically within minutes. Crazy.

  11. Shepherd Moon · 288 days ago

    The irony of sending this woman death threats seems to be lost on the people sending them. More heat than light. I hope once they calm down they will realize how excessive that reaction is. I have great sympathy for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, but I have little sympathy for people who issue death threats like this or threaten to send excrement through the mail and also threaten her parents.

    In fact, the best thing these people could do is to ask to meet with Ms. Lynch in a public setting (with security!) to force her to sit in public and explain her actions and hear from victims and their loved ones. And to say they forgive her, not as weak people, but as people who can only imagine that she had great ignorance that has now been corrected.

    I also surmise that Ms. Lynch has learned her lesson and then some and will never make this mistake again. Not to say that this justifies the threats against her, but boy talk about learning something the hard way.

    • Stace · 287 days ago

      I see no reason she should have to meet or explain her actions. I find many costumes tasteless..pregnant nuns for example..but I don't expect the person wearing the costume to sit with me and explain why they did it. No one knows why she chose it, her and her friends could have been brain storming on costumes and bam a dumb idea comes up. She's apologized but she owes nothing to the ppl making threats against her and yes they are breaking the law, but it's unlikely any will be punished. Thank goodness, there are some ppl who realize that it was a tasteless act and are willing to forgive without threatening.

      Oh the employer, I understand that what goes online can affect your work and such but how did the employer find out? I've never heard of someone being fired over a costume even one in poor taste.

  12. erin · 288 days ago

    Those who responded in such a vicious way against this young woman should be apologizing back to her and hope that she wont be charged if caught. They and her employer should also learn some civility and study what that thing we "freedom of expression".

  13. Erin · 288 days ago

    Those who responded in such a vicious way against this young woman should be apologizing back to her and hope that she wont be charged if caught. They and her employer should also learn some civility and study what that thing we "freedom of expression".

  14. I guess Halloween has a way of turning off people's brains if this similar costume choice making the news in the UK this week is anything to go by..."Twin Towers fancy dress students condemned".

    Death threats are a really an over-reaction to this (however tasteless and senseless the costume choice may have been. Respect to those calling for calm.

  15. Rubi · 259 days ago

    I truly wonder if there is ANY sense of decency or just plain common sense.?
    How could this 22 year old women NOT THINK she'd made a bad and revolting choice ?
    . The Marathon Bombing was NOT a funny incident. Innocent people died.
    There is nothing funny about it in ANY Way.
    So unfortunately-her actions and lack of care, have caused her perhaps to think about -how your actions not only affect others but yourself as well.
    Especially in a world where nothing is private-It's all out there for everyone to see.
    It was unworthy behavior.

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About the author

I've been writing about technology, careers, science and health since 1995. I rose to the lofty heights of Executive Editor for eWEEK, popped out with the 2008 crash, joined the freelancer economy, and am still writing for my beloved peeps at places like Sophos's Naked Security, CIO Mag, ComputerWorld, PC Mag, IT Expert Voice, Software Quality Connection, Time, and the US and British editions of HP's Input/Output. I respond to cash and spicy sites, so don't be shy.