Friday, April 07, 2006

Internet Romance Ends With Death

Jilted French Woman Apparent Suicide
By Jon Jeter -- Washington Post Staff Writer

CHICAGO-That their romance defied distance and logic did not seem to matter to Julie Yasa. She lived in Paris; he, outside Detroit. She was lonely; he was online. His flirtations appeared to her in the middle of the night, words brightening a dark computer screen and her melancholy heart, fastening to something inside her. Photographs were exchanged. Finally, after eight months, they agreed: a tryst.

She arrived in Detroit in March 1999, looking for love. What she found was a one-night stand. They consummated their cyberspace affair at her paramour's apartment, and afterward he dropped her off at a Motel 6, heartbroken and alone. When she reappeared on his doorstep three days later threatening suicide, he wanted no part of her. He handed her a sheet to ward off the March chill, then drove her to the edge of his apartment complex and put her out. "You're not going to commit suicide in my place," he told the woman, according to police. He watched as Yasa walked off toward the thicket behind his suburban home.

Police found Yasa's slightly bruised body a day later, lying face down in the frigid woods where she was left to wander. She had only a credit card and $27 in her pockets. A bed sheet was wrapped around her legs. Three pills lay beside her and police suspect the woman made good on her threats to kill herself. Authorities continue to investigate Yasa's transatlantic trip and her death, and whether her lover played a criminal role in her apparent suicide.

Chances are, police say, that her suitor is a cad, but no criminal. Much as they would like to prosecute him for boorishness, they say, they can only bring charges if they discover that he played a direct role in her suicide.

"He's a very cold-blooded person," said William Dwyer, chief of police in Farmington Hills, a middle-class suburb just north of Detroit. "It's a very cruel and callous person that can look someone in the eye like this, do what he did, and just not give a hoot." (can you spell CYBERPATH aka ONLINE PSYCHOPATH???)

The courtship and death of a young, troubled woman is as ancient as any Greek tragedy but also a coarse and cautionary tale on the dangers of romance in the age of e-mail. "Love is a tough enough thing," Dwyer said. "It just seems like the Internet lends a dangerous edge to it."

Yasa's lover, whom police have not identified, knew she had a history of depression and mental illness and yet financed her trip to the United States, Dwyer said. When immigration officials in New York thwarted her first attempt to enter the country, the man arranged for a smuggler to help her enter through Canada. And when she got to Detroit, he refused to help or love her.

Yasa's body was discovered after the man called police dispatchers Wednesday, pretending to be a passerby who stumbled onto a body in the woods. In the 911 recording, the man described spotting the body from a distance, then explained: "I didn't want to get too close." (he lied to her, he seduced her online, he got her into the U.S., he ****ed her and ditched her? LITERALLY? UGH!!!)

Their courtship began in August 1998, police said. He was 24, a recent college graduate between jobs in the computer industry. She had been treated for depression in France, Dwyer said. Yasa flew from Paris to New York on Feb. 5, 1999 but was not allowed to enter the United States. The reason U.S. immigration agents denied her entry was unclear. Officials at the French consulate here said she was a French citizen and had a valid passport. She returned home to France, and her suitor helped pay for another flight, this time to Toronto. She arrived in the Canadian border town of Windsor on Valentine's Day.

Dwyer said that authorities in Windsor noted Yasa acting strangely and tried, unsuccessfully, to have her committed to a psychiatric ward there. Yasa's paramour in the Detroit area told police that he paid a man to smuggle Yasa into the city on Saturday, Dwyer said. After having sex last Saturday, the man took her to a hotel and left. An employee at the hotel told the Detroit News that Yasa paid for her stay in advance and with cash, but staff had little reason to notice her. Distraught, she showed up on her lover's doorstep Tuesday, wearing only black jeans and a white blouse and saying that she had swallowed a bottle of pills, Dwyer said. The man refused to let her inside the apartment, handed her a bed sheet, then coaxed her inside his car. She continued her threats inside the car, but the man put her out near the end of the driveway leading to his apartment building.

He phoned police nearly 24 hours later, providing police with no hint that he knew the woman or how she got there. "I was driving by and saw it in the woods," he told dispatchers. But police became suspicious when a neighbor told officers that she saw a man walking out of the wooded area where Yasa's body was found. The neighbor's description resembled that of Yasa's lover, and the sighting was five hours before he placed the phone call to 911, Dwyer said.

The blue pills recovered near Yasa's body matched those found outside the man's apartment, as well, although Dwyer said that authorities were uncertain if she actually took the drugs. Yasa's body was slightly bruised but showed no signs of trauma, Dwyer said. Police are awaiting the results of a toxicology test before determing the cause of death. Jallal Oussar, director of general affairs for the French Consulate in Chicago, said that the family had been notified of Yasa's death and is making arrangements to have her body returned to France.

"They are devastated by this," Oussar said.


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