I was alerted to this story today that happened practically in my backyard. It goes to show that we never really know who is sitting in front of that other monitor. The young man in this case was troubled to begin with but unfortunately he met a girl on the internet who was a classic cyber imposter. I am surprised that the girl was charged with mischief but it is a start. The police did get involved.
If you have been using the internet, surely you have encountered individuals who were not who they claimed to be. I sure have. I had a nice young lady who used to frequent my Snoopysleuth blog. She was polite and wanted me to teach her the ropes on how to blog etc. She was a real sweetheart and her gravatar showed a pretty girl. One little thing tho, come to find out she was really a middle aged man. I couldn’t really get mad because he/she was so nice and willing to learn. I used to wonder why he would do that but maybe he could not afford a sex change.
I would love to hear your stories of imposters you may have met on the blogosphere.
Following is the story of Brandon….
Cheryl Veinotte held her son’s hand, leaned down, kissed his cold forehead and still cheek, and told him she loved him.
“It was the hardest thing I ever had to do,” she said of that morning less than seven weeks ago when she had to go to the South Shore Regional Hospital in Bridgewater to identify her son’s body.
Brandon Wentzell died from a lethal combination of Dilaudid and vodka. He had turned 19 just 29 days earlier. One of the last photographs taken of Brandon shows him sitting on the couch beside his grandpa, with his chocolate birthday cake on his lap.
“I don’t think he planned to do it,” Veinotte said.
Brandon was looking forward to starting his final semester at the alternative school where he had finally found success. The day planner he had asked her to buy for his first day back is still on the desk in the living room, beside the file folders she also picked up for him.
On the other side of the room, a silver box containing Brandon’s ashes shimmers from the flame of a lit candle.
“I know it looks like a shrine,” Veinotte smiles apologetically, “but I need it right now.”
Veinotte and her partner Blair MacLaren want parents to know that drugs are a serious problem with young people in the Bridgewater area, and that the constant presence of social media can make life even more distorted for them.
Brandon was upset the night he died because after months of texting, conversing on Facebook and talking on the telephone into the wee hours of the morning, he still hadn’t met in person his “girlfriend” Clarissa Chistiakov. Just hours earlier, she had yet again cancelled their planned first meeting.
Brandon texted her late on the night of Feb. 5 to say he had taken two four-milligram pills and two six-milligram pills after having had a few drinks of vodka and orange juice.
Veinotte has since found out Clarissa didn’t exist — at least not as Brandon thought. Neither did her brother Kyle, whom Brandon frequently talked with through Facebook, nor Clarissa’s ex-boyfriend Eric, who got into fights with Brandon over the social networking site.
Even Clarissa’s mother, supposedly a nurse at the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax, didn’t exist, though Veinotte received texts from her saying Clarissa committed suicide immediately after learning of Brandon’s death. Bridgewater police have charged an 18-year-old Queens County woman with committing mischief. They allege she reported to a police officer that Clarissa Chistiakov had died, causing police to launch an investigation, when she hadn’t died. Indeed, it appears she hadn’t lived, either.
The young woman, who lives in an apartment on Main Street in Liverpool, is scheduled to appear in Bridgewater provincial court April 18 and is under a court order to have no contact with Veinotte.
Bridgewater police could not be reached Friday for further information on the case.
Veinotte said Brandon had his difficulties in life but was extremely close to his family. He kissed her in front of his friends when she dropped him off at the alternative high school.
“He hugged me all the time, with a pat on the back. He’d always give you that pat on the back,” she said.
He took great pride in the fact he had his mother’s blue eyes and defined cheekbones.
His attention deficit disorder would get him in trouble over the years, though it was never really serious trouble. He adored his cousins and was devoted to his mother and grandmother.
Veinotte knew Brandon smoked marijuana and drank liquor. He even told her he’d tried cocaine and ecstasy, but she never realized the extent of his drug use, particularly when it came to prescription pills.
Brandon “was always surrounded by friends,” Veionotte said, and enjoyed four-wheeling and working on cars with his best friend, but she said her son desperately wanted a girlfriend.
“He wanted a relationship so bad,” she said, and he thought he found the girl of his dreams on the dating website Plenty of Fish. Clarissa Chistiakov was a beautiful blond who lived in the Tantallon area with her mother, whom she said was a nurse at the QEII Health Sciences Centre, and her dad, a professor at Dalhousie University. “She was gorgeous and had a voice that matched,” said Veinotte, who spoke on the phone with her a number of times.
Clarissa sent photographs of herself from the time she was a toddler up until the present — a perfect smile, tanned skin and toned body.
She said she was a waitress at the Keg in Halifax, (which police later learned was not true) where she earned money as she trained to be a radiologist. She told Brandon she had done some work at a hospital for sick and orphaned children in Colombia.
Clarissa said her brother, Kyle, was the same age as Brandon, and they became friends on Facebook as well.
Brandon fell deeply in love with Clarissa, staying up on the phone with her so late he’d miss school the next day. And Veinotte said he got riled up by emails from her ex-boyfriend, Eric, threatening Brandon and detailing how he had sexually assaulted Clarissa. Brandon spoke often with her brother Kyle over Facebook about how they would meet and become good friends.
From what Veinotte has learned, none of these people existed, except Clarissa, who appears to be someone else entirely.
“I have nothing against Facebook, it’s helped me a lot,” Veinotte said, as she looks at photographs of her son and reads messages from his friends “but you have to be careful. You cannot believe everything you read on there.”
Veinotte said after a number of planned meetings that never happened, Clarissa committed to travel from her home in Tantallon to Bridgewater to meet Brandon on Feb. 5.
“He was so excited he cleaned his room. He never cleaned his room, ever. You couldn’t get through it,” she said.
Then Clarissa called to say she couldn’t get down until Tuesday. “Brandon was so upset,” Veinotte said.
It was Super Bowl Sunday, so he picked up a quart of vodka, which he drank with two friends, then went to another friend’s house where he bought four Dilaudid pills off a man who has a prescription for them.
Brandon then told Clarissa in a text what he did, and fell asleep at his friend’s apartment. He never woke up.
Veinotte said she sent Clarissa a text to tell her what had happened. Shortly after that, Veinotte said she got texts from Clarissa’s mother saying Clarissa had tried to kill herself and that Kyle was giving his sister CPR.
The police were with Veinotte when she got those texts and they struck everyone as suspicious. Veinotte said the police contacted the QEII and the Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union, but no nurse existed by the name Clarissa had given for her mother.
The texts continued from the “mother” all that day and the next, saying Clarissa had been pronounced dead on the way to the hospital and telling Veinotte the funeral home where her remains lay. She even suggested they get together “to talk about our beautiful babies.”
Veinotte said she was in griefstricken shock, and the texts added a horrible strain.
“I didn’t need this,” she said.
Veinotte said the police contacted the owner of the cell phone number, which led them to lay the mischief charge against the 18-year-old woman from Liverpool.
About 450 people showed up for Brandon’s funeral at the Michelin Social Club on Feb. 13.
A teenage girl came up to Veinotte and MacLaren afterward to say she knew Brandon had a problem with pills.
“If someone had said something, we would have been able to sit down and help him get off the damn things,” MacLaren said. “These kids, they’re not about to rat each other out and I just wish it wasn’t like that, but that’s the way they are.”
“I wouldn’t be angry with him,” Veinotte said.
Like the time he crashed her car, or called for a drive at 4:30 in the morning, she said she would have been there for him.
The couple has since looked up the side-effects of Dilaudid and realized Brandon’s recent sudden bouts of violent vomiting were likely caused by the drug.
“It was more of a problem than what we realized,” MacLaren said, and he said it’s more of a problem in the Bridgewater area than most parents recognize.
“They don’t realize how many kids are on these pills. Parents aren’t educated on them and they don’t realize how bad they are,” he said. “They don’t think they’re the problem that they are, but they’re highly addictive.”
Veinotte added, “They’re easy to get and they’re not expensive,” selling for $5 or $10 a pill.
She said a number of Brandon’s friends have told her they’ve stopped doing drugs because of her son’s death, and that provides a measure of comfort.
Sitting in her living room, adorned with pictures of Brandon from the time he was a toddler in a sleeping bag in a tent, to a more recent picture on his BMX bike with friends, Veinotte thinks back to the last time she saw her son.
“I got to say goodbye, and that brings me some sort of comfort each night.”
She wears a necklace — it’s a sparkling circle with the word “Mom” written in small stones across the middle.
Brandon Wentzell is gone, but Cheryl Veinotte will always be his mother.