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JOHN DOUGLAS -- THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF MINDHUNTER AND THE UNDISPUTED MASTER PROFILER OF SERIAL CRIMINALS -- TELLS THE CHILLING TRUE STORY OF JOHN ROBINSON, THE INTERNET'S FIRST SERIAL MURDERER.
In Olathe, Kansas, a balding, pudgy father of four sits in prison convicted on three counts of homicide -- two of capital murder -- and suspected in at least five other disappearances. During the last half of the 1990s, John Robinson exploited the Internet's active world of sadomasochism with horrific results. By haunting chat rooms, he pinpointed vulnerable women who were looking for romance and stalked them on-line, nefariously convincing them of his maturity, sensitivity, and financial stability. He seemed like the perfect man. He enticed these women with offers of a solid relationship and a lucrative job, persuading them to move to his hometown. Once they arrived in Kansas, the women invariably disappeared.
After a dramatic trial and days of intense jury deliberation, Robinson now faces the death penalty. Disturbing as his crimes may be, what's most alarming is how he selected and lured his victims and how willingly they responded. John Robinson expanded the hunting ground, the techniques, and the technology of the sexual predator. He is the world's first-known Internet serial killer.
Law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and the coauthors of Anyone You Want Me to Be have struggled to unravel the enigma that is John Robinson. They reveal what can go wrong in a world where relationships are devoid of physical contact, showing how easily mainstream Americans can be drawn into the dark underground of cybercrime. The Internet has drastically expanded the realm of fantasy -- from the limited confines of physical reality to the worldwide stage of virtual reality -- and anyone can become involved in an on-line seduction. Erotic fantasies, which were once socially off-limits and extremely private, are now instantly accessible. This rapidly growing community masks a sinister truth: With only a computer, an Internet connection, and a knack for creativity, criminals have the power to reach millions of unsuspecting victims while remaining in complete control of their own -- often false -- image. John Robinson was a true innovator in this variety of crime. Through interviews with law enforcement specialists, Web experts, and others, John Douglas and Stephen Singular illustrate, with this case, a much larger -- and more frightening -- pattern of Internet sex and violence.
As technology proliferates in the twenty-first century, so do opportunities for enterprising criminals like John Robinson. No one is better equipped than John Douglas and Stephen Singular to expose the underworld of the Internet and to warn people about the dangers of cyberspace. A cautionary and educational tale about being wary of strangers and false intimacy, Anyone You Want Me to Be is also a terrifying, high-tech story of crime and punishment.
Douglas (The Cases That Haunt Us) criminal profiler, ex-FBI agent, true crime writer and supposedly the model for a key character in Thomas Harris's The Silence of the Lambs presents the sordid and horrific case of John Robinson, "the nation's if not the world's first Internet serial killer." A chubby middle-aged father of four with a long history as a con man, Robinson explored the local s&m underground of Kansas City while skillfully using Internet chat groups to lure sexually adventurous women to Kansas, where he killed six of them, and perhaps five more, before his arrest in 2000. Douglas's methodical pace and his careful accretion of detail to describe bizarre crimes committed by seemingly ordinary people is highly reminiscent of the work of true crime writer Ann Rule, with Douglas seeing the case as being "about sex among unglamorous people and how the Internet had unleashed so many pent-up possibilities." He also spends a lot of time describing how the proliferation of porn-related sites on the Internet has made it "the fastest-growing criminal frontier in cyberspace." While much of this is fascinating, Douglas too often breaks his tone to issue simplistic warnings to the reader ("Nobody can any longer afford to be naive when it comes to cyberspace"). Johnson, writing with journalist Singular, helpfully offers an appendix featuring "tips for helping adults and kids avoid the dangers of on-line predators."