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12:08 AM Thu, Nov. 15th

Hed Lines: Crime reports might discourage some from trying to find love through the Internet

News stories in the Miner about a 36-year-old Arkansas man charged with assaulting a local woman whom he met on the Internet point to the potential pitfalls of trying to find love in the cyber age.

We reported June 5 that Claude Bryan Oakley pleaded innocent the previous day to numerous assault-related charges.

He reportedly met a local woman through the Internet and moved to the Kingman area several days before allegedly breaking into her house.

He is accused of stabbing her and assaulting her husband, who was not injured.

The woman reportedly did not disclose that she was married in her e-mail exchanges with the suspect.

It will be up to the criminal justice system to determine whether he is guilty and what punishment would be appropriate.

Meanwhile, local singles could learn from the incident as well as other horror stories – such as reports about a 13-year cheerleader who was killed – by exercising more caution and common sense.

Creeps and psychos can distort their personalities while writing e-mails.

You don't know whether the man who comes across as witty and charming turns out to be a Ted Bundy or Richard Ramirez.

A woman who sounds sweet and caring in her correspondence could turn out to be another Lorena Bobbitt or Amy Fisher.

Online dating services and singles publications that preceded them generally urge their customers to avoid giving out phone numbers to prospective mates until they have written to each other extensively.

They recommend a first meeting in a safe public place such as a restaurant.

I am writing this because I know a number of local residents are looking for dates and possible marriage by placing their profiles online and responding to personal ads.

They could be a woman taking part in a fitness walk in Centennial Park or a man lifting weights in a gym.

I scrolled through online personals on a search engine, and recognized a neighbor through her scanned photo.

She said she is corresponding with a man who works in a national park and has spoken to him over the phone, but they have never met.

A few years ago, I approached a woman in a shopping center parking lot while I was conducting the reader poll.

She said she moved to Kingman from Ontario, Canada, because she met a man through the Internet.

I hope her search for romance was successful.

I stress again the need for healthy skepticism.

To use Hollywood metaphors, you do not want your search for love to be a cyber version of "Looking for Mr.

Goodbar" or a cross between "You've Got Mail" and "Fatal Attraction."

**

I received conflicting solicitations three weeks ago: one via "snail" mail delivered by the U.S.

Postal Service, the other through a junk e-mail.

The mail solicitation included a sample copy of a new weekly publication published by Aviation Week called "Homeland Security Defense." The newsletter obviously is a response the events of Sept.

11, which prompted President George Bush to create a new Office of Homeland Security headed by former Pennsylvania Gov.

Tom Ridge.

That office might be elevated to cabinet status.

By contrast, the e-mail, sent by a shadowy individual, serves a conflicting goal of potentially endangering the security of others.

It features flaming skulls, and asks whether I wanted to learn how to make bombs and grenades, get a new identity, hack into computers, and engage in other illegal and questionable activity.

The e-mail promoted the sale of a cassette disk called "The Anarchist Cookbook."

The First Amendment protects such scoundrels who make a living selling this offensive material.

My only defense now is to press the delete button.

**

I reported some time ago about a guerrilla marketer who sent advertisements for a Kingman car dealer to me in a plain, white envelope with no return address.

Faithful readers, he struck again, this time urging me to spent $297 for a 30-day, "no-risk trial" offer so that I can learn to become an "electrifying public speaker."

Unfortunately, the post office forwarded the letter even though I moved out of my previous apartment nearly a year ago.

Ken Hedler is the county government and political reporter for the Miner.