Troll admits to making death threats against children on Facebook

Filed Under: Facebook, Law & order

FacebookSeventeen-year-old Caitlin Talley, of the US state of Tennessee, was killed in October after being thrown from a pickup truck in a violent crash that police believe involved a drunken driver.

As many mourners have done, those who loved Talley erected a memorial Facebook page in her honor.

Reece Elliott, 24, of South Shields, UK, has admitted that in February, he signed on to that tribute page under a false name and threatened to kill "at least" 200 people.

Elliott - who described himself as a "part-time troll" who wanted to post offensive content to see what type of reaction he could provoke - confessed to having posted the following threats to school children and to his own father, according to the BBC:

facebook troll

"My father has three guns. I'm planning on killing him first and putting him in a dumpster.

"Then I'm taking the motor and I'm going in fast. I'm gonna kill hopefully at least 200 before I kill myself.

"So you want to tell the deputy, I'm on my way. I'm killing 200 people minimum at school. I will be on CNN."

The day after the threats were posted, 3,000 pupils stayed home as schools in Warren County, Tennessee went into lockdown, posting armed guards and restricting access.

Elliott is himself the father of one, according to The Examiner.

He admitted one count of making a threat to kill and eight of sending grossly offensive messages, the Examiner reports.

The judge, James Goss QC, remarked that a prison sentence will be "inevitable" in sentencing.

Per the Examiner:

"You will remain in custody until the sentence hearing, as I'm sure you will appreciate the offences are serious matters. A prison sentence is of course the inevitable sentence in respect of these offences."

According to prosecutor Gary Buckley, Elliott was "well aware that he was wanted" and turned himself in to South Shields Police Station.

Buckley said that Elliott told police he was also aware of recent incidents of school shootings.

Those shootings include the horrific case of Sandy Hook in December, in which 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and six staff members at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

Elliott told police that while he did post the death threats on Facebook, he "didn't expect the threats to be taken seriously and didn't expect them to cause the reaction they did," Buckley said, according to The Guardian.

Is anybody really that dense?

Unfortunately, yes.

How do we deal with such cretins?

Like Graham Cluley - who has himself been targeted - said in this story about how to deal with internet trolls, ignoring them should be rule No. 1.

Troll sign. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.Don't give them the attention on which they feed. Hopefully, they'll starve and go away.

That rule applies to death threats. Don't feed trolls who commit this illegal act. I'd edit the rule to read "don't respond to trolls," though.

Instead of ignoring trolls, and instead of feeding their nauseating need for attention, report them.

Harassment is serious. Report the troll to whatever site you're using, and block them if possible.

As far as trolling goes, don't. If you can, try to stop others from committing this obnoxious act.

If morality and ethics don't stop a potential troll, maybe the threat of jail time will.

Just because a troll cooks up a bogus name most certainly does not make him anonymous, and it certainly won't keep him out of prison, as Reece Elliott has discovered.

Images of fingers on keyboard and troll courtesy of Shutterstock.

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9 Responses to Troll admits to making death threats against children on Facebook

  1. I think his punishment should be what a terrorist would receive.

    • Anonymous · 857 days ago

      Terrorists receive life in prison in the United Kingdom; this is just a guy who was too caught up in his ego to realize that he's not as anonymous as he thinks. He doesn't deserve life, but he definitely deserves something big enough to crush his ego and serve as a warning to anyone else who does this.

      • Kd · 560 days ago

        He committed an actor terrorism, and furthermore, no one has any way of knowing whether or not he might have actually intended some act of violence.

  2. Chris H · 857 days ago

    He's an idiot, it's a shame he won't do time in the US where he'd suffer more. Americans want to call anything that frightens them terrorism, so maybe they should start by prosecuting CNN and Fox. But in British law this moron still threatened people, regardless of whether he was in any position to carry out the threats, so British law will send him to jail. Now he a convicted felon and he has ruined his life. Since he won't be going to Pelican Bay at least I can hope he ends up in Durham Jail, close to home so his folks can visit, but a hard prison so he'll suffer for frightening the colonials.

  3. Freida Gray · 857 days ago

    He said he only posted the threats to see what kind of reaction he would get.Apparently since he turned himself in he didn't get the one he wanted so he had to get it himself.If only all trolls were this dumb.

  4. What is the typical punishment for this type of crime?

  5. Randy · 856 days ago

    "he "didn't expect the threats to be taken seriously and didn't expect them to cause the reaction they did," Buckley said"
    He needs about 10-15 years in federal prison to think about what he did.

  6. Nonymous · 856 days ago

    Addressing the issue should be the primary goal. Not 'lets put him in prison and throw away the key'. That solves nothing. The only thing it does is give the public a sense that justice has been served, where the truth is, time is prison cannot always be equated with justice.

    Address the problem, not the public. There are so many solutions I could cry. Have a it so that all comments are moderated before posting in a group? That'd be a great start.

  7. People will do or say anything these days to get attention - take away his computer and never let him use one again.

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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.