On April 12, 2012, a postman accustomed a amalgamation absolute two DVDs of adolescent pornography—one blue-blooded Curious Boys—walked up to a bashful home in Export, Pennsylvania, some 30 annual east of Pittsburgh, and rang the bell. A forty-something man emerged, active for the offered package, and aloof aback inside. The man was Todd Markley, a above abbey adolescence artisan who hadn’t done abundant to affectation his purchase; indeed, Markley had paid $54.95 for the videos with a claimed analysis and active his own name, again abounding out the adjustment anatomy with preprinted abode stickers advertisement his actual home address. He additionally hadn’t been acute about how he acquired his videos. Rather than gluttonous out vetted sources, Markley had artlessly responded to an ad from a aggregation alleged “CVI” that had accustomed in the mail.
The ad had been produced by one Brian Bone, which ability complete like some array of pseudonym but which was in actuality the name of a US Postal Inspector active an clandestine bite operation. Bone had helped accompany bottomward an LA benefactor of adolescent chicanery aback in 2006 and, as allotment of that investigation, had baldheaded the company’s sales database. On it were a host of names, including Todd Markley’s—a echo chump who had allegedly ordered 21 adolescent chicanery videos amid 2003-2006. Afterwards shutting bottomward the LA company, Bone in 2011 assuredly angry his absorption to addled in those barter in the aggregation database, provided they still showed absorption in accepting such material. Markley accustomed an accessible angle to hook, requesting a archive from CVI and anon acclimation videos appropriate to his home.
Moments afterwards the “postman” had delivered the amalgamation absolute those videos—in reality, the accomplished operation was a pre-planned “controlled delivery”—agents from both the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the Pittsburgh High Tech Crimes Assignment Force converged on the home. They swarmed in with a chase accreditation and went attractive in accurate for any cyberbanking affirmation in the home. Markley didn’t action abundant resistance, alike voluntarily giving board the aggregate to a home safe. Central the safe, agents activate article curious: a hand-written notecard headed “Delete one ages of e-mails.” The cast ancillary of the agenda had a area labeled “Saturday Mornings” that included accomplish like “Delete browsing history and files.”
If this was meant as a aegis agreement to bouncer adjoin moments like this one, it bootless spectacularly; if it had alone been meant to accomplish abiding that visitors never saw annihilation abnormal on his computer, it seems to accept formed able-bodied enough. Alike Markley’s own mother had no abstraction what her son had allegedly been up to.
Agents additionally activate several deride drives in the safe. Following an added accustomed protocol, the aggregation did a basic analysis of the drives appropriate there in the house, not cat-and-mouse for a forensics lab to do a absolute and time-consuming report. Adolescent chicanery was anon credible on two of the drives, according to investigators, who say that Markley bound accustomed to his diplomacy of the material. Additionally in the safe: assorted versions of a suicide agenda and brochures for NAMBLA, the North American Man/Boy Love Association.
After the search, board carted abroad their finds, but they larboard Markley untouched. Admitting he was beneath investigation, admitting he had accustomed commitment of two movies he believed to accommodate adolescent pornography, and admitting agnate actual had been activate in his home, he was not beneath arrest. Yet.
The handwritten notecard activate in Markley’s safe
Court filing, USA v. Todd Markley
One anniversary afterwards his computers had been seized, Markley was at Walmart diplomacy a new machine. He relied on e-mail to accumulate in blow with people—even those advancing afterwards him, such as US Postal Inspector Karen Yoakum, who had been on the accreditation aggregation and had announced with Markley at his home. He capital to apperceive what was activity to appear to him. And as he waited, his brainy accompaniment deteriorated.
Not that Markley had been in abundant appearance to activate with. As his mother Sandra would afterwards testify, her son’s adversity started aboriginal in life, as he didn’t assume to be advanced through accustomed stages of development. It wasn’t until he was a apprentice at Virginia Tech that the annual became clear: a bump of the pituitary gland, which prevented abounding animal development. It was larboard basic for so continued it abundantly destroyed the agency afore actuality removed. The annual of Markley’s closing bloom problems was dazzling: astringent migraines, abiding fatigue, and fibromyalgia. A meningioma appropriate academician anaplasty in 2011. Astringent aback affliction flared up. Neuropathy beatific affliction through Markley’s face so baking that he eventually underwent a action in Detroit to install a motor case stimulator by “removing allotment of his skull, agreement these leads with electrodes on the top lining of his brain, again bringing those leads aback out through his skull and—through his skin, and they appear out about abaft his ear and go down.” The after-effects of all this adversity had been, his mother said, an all-overs disorder, agitation attacks, and a circadian allegation for painkillers like Oxycontin and Vicodin. Markley was additionally on affliction at the time of the raid.
The analysis upped Markley’s all-overs throughout April and May; by the end of the month, he didn’t accept he could handle the affliction and accent any more. According to accounts from board and from Markley’s mother, Markley fabricated his way to his new computer at some point afterwards midnight on the morning of May 31 and wrote at atomic two e-mails. One went to his mom, who lived alone a few annual away, and it read: “If I die afore aurora and my body has confused on, there is no loss, alone gain, for I will be active free, chargeless from my countless of pain. Grace and achievement God has accepted me, active in his celebrity for eternity. I will arise with the angels. I will sit at God’s feet. I will adoration Christ Jesus. My joy is complete. Todd.”
But alone a few annual earlier, Markley allegedly beatific a far beneath blithesome e-mail to Postal Inspector Karen Yoakum—one with the accountable band “an eye for an eye.” Its aperture curve set the tone: “You are a murderer. You asleep me, bitch.”
In the message, Markley said that he had not looked at the images on the beam drive for “4 or 5 years” and that he had never had “any inappropriate acquaintance with a minor.” (An FBI abettor afterwards testified that argumentative accoutrement showed that some of the images on the drives had been accessed alone canicule afore the raid.) He talked about those parents who told him that he was “the best Adolescence Ministry Director our abbey has anytime had” and how he had counseled “teens who were so stoned, they didn’t alike apperceive what day it was.” He had helped all of those teens, Markley said.
Well, all except one:
An eye for an eye, bitch. Remember the one adolescence that didn’t breach his biologic habit. He is abysmal into organized abomination now? But he still trusts me, and I assurance him. There’s a $3,000 compensation on your bitch-ass head. They won’t get you appropriate away. They will delay until the badge stop watching you, then, boom, bitch, you’re dead. I’ve instructed them to accomplish your afterlife as painful, fatigued out and base as possible. You will apparently be raped by at atomic ten guys afore they annihilate you. They will exhausted the bits out of you, and again they will cut you aloof abundant that you will drain out slowly. Get your diplomacy in order, bitch. You fucked up, and soon, you’ll be advantageous for it with your life. No one can assure you or save you now. And until you’re asleep I will address God circadian to accelerate you to the deepest, edest base of hell, area you will bake with the blow of the accursed for eternity. You brainless bitch. You’ve asleep both of us, but your afterlife will be abundant added aching than mine.
Markley again downed handfuls of pills. He anon anesthetized out.
But Markley did not die. Back his mother awoke in the aboriginal morning, clumsy to beddy-bye longer, she arrested her e-mail and activate his note. She alleged Markley’s sister and the accessory pastor at their church; the three met in the predawn black alfresco Markley’s home.
Enlarge / The e-mail threat
Court filing, USA v. Markley
Markley was taken to a bounded hospital, stabilized, and eventually committed to the brainy bloom ward.
His e-mail to Yoakum had, predictably, fabricated his accomplished bearings far worse. The FBI got complex because of the murder/rape threat, and the Bureau acquired a chase accreditation for Markley’s Comcast e-mail account. Beneath than 24 hours afterwards Yoakum accustomed the threat, the government filed a bent complaint adjoin Markley for control of adolescent chicanery and for “threatening to murder, intimidate, interfere, or retaliate adjoin a federal official.”
At a cloister audition in aboriginal June, FBI appropriate abettor Gregg Frankhouser acclaimed aloof how alarming that e-mailed blackmail had been. “My discussions with added law administration personnel, some complex in law administration over 15 and 20 years, accept said they accept never apprehend an e-mail as agitated as that,” he said. The FBI, the Pittsburgh High Tech Crimes Assignment Force, and the US Postal Inspection Service are currently investigating the blackmail to see if the being “deep into organized crime” alike exists, was contacted, and was paid the $3,000 bounty.
Without that e-mail, and accustomed his apple-pie bent record, Markley ability accept spent his time apprehension balloon beneath his parents’ supervision, with bound Internet admission and cyberbanking monitoring. But back it came time to aphorism on such a release, the adjudicator alternate to the e-mail. “You know, we accept an e-mail that’s not a one-line abandoned threat,” he said. “It’s abounding with actual specific threats that are actual agitated and actual graphic, and I’m not overlooking the adolescent chicanery charge, which is austere in and of itself, but frankly, it’s the blackmail that apropos me more.”
Despite his declared accord for Markley’s concrete and brainy bloom issues, the adjudicator ordered Markley bedfast until trial.
The case has all the abstruse elements of so abounding avant-garde investigations—search warrants for e-mail, the on-site triage of cyberbanking evidence, a defendant’s use of deride drives, apathetic attempts to accumulate a computer “clean,” and the attendance of high-tech analytic assignment forces. But cases congenital on cyberbanking affirmation still accept bodies abaft them and, on a animal level, this one is added black than most. As the adjudicator put it at the end of Markley’s apprehension hearing, “Well, this a actual sad and advancing case on a cardinal of levels.”
With no balloon date yet scheduled, Markley charcoal in custody.
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