Using the internet as a way to say goodbye to the world or to spread word of your crimes is nothing new. From the early days when you connected to people on basic forums and poorly designed chat rooms to Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, people have always found a way to get their crimes and suicides out for the world to see.
Sharon Rina Loptka
Sharon Rina Lopatka was an internet entrepreneur back when the internet was still young and seemed to enjoy an unusual fetish that would ultimately end her life.
She was married to a construction worker named Victor and moved from Ellicott City, Maryland to Hampstead, Maryland in the early 1990’s. Former classmates of Sharon’s claimed that the marriage was her way of “breaking away” because her parents did not support the marriage.
Sharon made her money by advertising various businesses that she created online. Her first website, formed in 1995, was House of Dion, which she used to sell home décor guides by mail for $7. She also advertised two 900 phone numbers, one of them she used for psychic readings and the other for a classified ad writing service. Sharon liked to hang out on Usenet and also went by a few other names, and she was a prolific spammer. She was reported multiple times for her ads and for posting less than savory fetish posts. She also had a history of ripping people off with her homemade porno videos. One user who sent payment called out Sharon for not providing him with the video that he ordered.
Robert Glass was a computer analyst for the Catawba County government in North Carolina. He was married to Sherri and had two daughters and one son. They separated in May 1996 when Sherri noticed Robert was spending more and more time online. One day she logged into his email account and found “raw, violent, and disturbing” messages that he had sent under pseudonyms. Sharon met Robert in a chatroom dedicated to fetish porn and communicated through email where Sharon confessed her fetish for being tortured.
Robert Glass went by the name “Toyman” and “Slowhand” on Usenet where they met. Sharon wanted Robert to murder her to satisfy both of their sexual fetishes. She had reached out to others before Robert, however, in one case she backed out of their arrangement.
October 13, 1996
On October 13, 1996, Sharon Lopatka left her home in Hampstead Maryland and took the train to Charlotte North Carolina. She told her husband that she was going to Georgia to visit friends. Robert Glass picked up Sharon from the train station, and they drove the 80 miles to Glass’s trailer in Caldwell County. While Sharon and Robert were on their journey, her husband Victor found a note that said “If my body is never retrieved, don’t worry. Know that I am at peace.” After finding the note, he contacted the police who searched her computer and found hundreds of emails and chat logs where her and Robert planned out their death fetish. Sharon had asked Robert to torture her to death as part of her secret fantasy.
Police searched Robert’s home where they found a .357 magnum, drug paraphernalia, bondage gear, porn magazines, and his computer. They also found a shallow grave in his backyard that was Sharon’s final resting place. Sharon’s wrists and ankles were bound and her she had a rope wrapped around her neck along with marks on her breasts.
Robert Glass was arrested at work and told investigators, “I don’t know how much I pulled the rope, I never wanted to kill her, but she ended up dead.”
This is the first case that consisted almost entirely of evidence taken from online correspondences.
Robert Glass was initially charged with first-degree murder and was held without bond at Caldwell County Jail; this charge was later changed to voluntary manslaughter. Robert pleaded guilty to the manslaughter charge on January 27, 2000, and was sentenced to 36-53 months in the Avery Mitchell Correctional Institution along with another six charges of second-degree minor exploitation after finding child porn on the confiscated computer. He was sentenced to an additional 21-26 months. Robert died of a heart attack while in prison just two weeks before he could be released on February 20, 2002.