PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon man, who was arrested after he tried to set up a mass suicide on Valentine’s Day, had been urging women to kill themselves for at least five years, officials confirmed.
Combing through old chat room records, investigators discovered that Gerald Krein, 26, had been enticing women across North America to commit suicide as far back as 2000, said Klamath County Sheriff Tim Evinger.
“The common theme is that these were women who were vulnerable, who were depressed. He invited them to engage in certain sexual acts with him — and then they were to hang themselves naked from a beam in his house,” the sheriff said. “He was indicating in these chat groups to these women that he had a beam and that it would hold multiple people.”
Krein was arrested last Wednesday at his mother’s mobile home in the southern Oregon town of Klamath Falls. He faces charges of solicitation to commit murder, but prosecutors are expected to increase the charge to attempted manslaughter Monday, said Evinger.
Detectives learned of the Valentine’s Day plan from a woman in Ontario, Canada, who said she saw the message in a Yahoo chat room that had the words “Suicide Ideology” in the title. The chat room participants planned to log in on Valentine’s Day and commit suicide while keeping in touch over the Internet.
The woman became alarmed and tipped off police after she saw that one of the other chat room participant intended to kill her two children before taking her own life.
Upon his arrest, Krein told investigators that he had succeeded in soliciting suicides from at least 31 chat room participants.
So far, investigators have tracked down four women: the woman who first came forward in Canada and three others, living in Oregon, Missouri, Virginia.
“In the Missouri and Virginia case, he was inviting them to bring their children with them,” said Evinger. “It would have been four children total,” he said.
While the Valentine’s Day suicide was intended to be executed over the Internet as a group, others were intended to be one-on-one experiences, said Evinger.
“He had a Web cam,” said Evinger.
The sheriff said he would not be surprised if someone had killed themselves as a result of Krein.
“My concern is if he’s been doing this for some time, it’s my hope that he hasn’t been successful — but it could turn out that he has been,” he said.
If prosecutors are able to pin a suicide on him, the chargesheet will increase to manslaughter instead of attempted manslaughter, Evinger said.
Chat room records indicate that Krein solicited suicides in Texas in 2000. In 2003, chat rooms indicate he was soliciting suicides from his home in Sacramento, Calif., Evinger said. He had been living in his mother’s mobile home for a short while. His home in Oregon before the mobile home had beams, the sheriff said.
“As our computer specialists have been going through mail groups and old chat rooms and old postings and looking at some things that are in the public domain out there, it became clear that he has a history of doing this,” Evinger said.