Online Death Leads To Offline Arrest

A woman who brutally murdered the avatar of her online husband in Japan last week has been arrested in the real world.


(Maple Story murder scene)

After a messy online divorce, she obtained her digital partner's password and used it to illegally access his computer. Once logged in, she erased his digital character. The charge of illegally accessing a computer carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison or a fine of about $5,000.

According to investigators, the woman flew into a rage when the relationship was abruptly terminated. "I was suddenly divorced, without a word of warning. That made me so angry," she was quoted as saying.

The two met while accessing a hugely popular role-playing game called MapleStory, which encourages anonymous users to create online characters that navigate alternative worlds, fight monsters and engage in virtual relationships. Long-term commitments, marriage, and digital sex are not uncommon among players, who are sometimes not even living in the same country. Originally from South Korea, Maple Story now reportedly boasts about 50 million subscribers worldwide, including 9 million in Japan.

In terms of science-fictional precursors, I was trying to think of cases in which the death of an online character resulted in the death of a corresponding real person. Readers?

Update 28-Oct-2008: In a 1988 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (Elementary, Dear Data), Geordi asks the holodeck to make a Sherlock Holmes villain capable of defeating data. The resulting character, Dr. Moriarty, comes to claim that he is conscious and wants to live a life outside the holodeck. Since this is not possible, Captain Picard agrees to save his program data and algorithms before terminating the active program. (Thanks, Moira!) End update.


(Dr. Moriarty program from ST:TNG)

From Virtual killer faces real jail after murder by mouse ; thanks to Moira for the tip.

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