Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Want to murder your husband? Don't tell Facebook

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AKRON, Ohio -- As is the case with most married couples, Heather and Jon McKenna occasionally snipe at each other. Sometimes they even enjoy it.

Heather got riled up the other night because she thought Jon, her husband of 13 years, was cleaning their coffeepot with vinegar, an odour she detests.

She signed onto her Facebook page and wrote, "I'm going to murder my stanky husband."

Several of her 470 Facebook friends got a laugh.

"Hire a mechanic," joked a guy named Steve.

"No, I like him," responded a pal named Dale.

But one reader wasn't laughing.

One of Heather's Facebook friends apparently thought she was serious. As a result, the McKennas got an unexpected visitor two days later.

At 2 o'clock on a Monday afternoon, a Portage County, Ohio, sheriff's deputy knocked on the front door of their house. The deputy discovered Heather's husband slumped in a chair with his eyes closed. But it wasn't exactly a crime scene. The husband, who had worked a midnight shift, was asleep in a chair -- with their 17-month-old daughter asleep on his lap.

When the deputy saw the man, she said, "Oh, is that Jon McKenna?"

Heather immediately thought Jon had done something wrong, because she knew she hadn't.

When the deputy said, "Did you post something on Facebook that you were going to murder your husband?" Heather was stunned.

"Is that really why you're here?" she said, incredulous.

The deputy told her a complaint had been filed and she was there to check it out. She asked Heather to pull up the page on her computer so the deputy could read it, and Heather quickly complied.

Both McKennas were floored by the visit -- and still are.

But Portage County Sheriff David Doak sees nothing even remotely funny about the McKennas' byplay.

"Any time we get a threat -- whether it's by telephone, via text, over the Internet, on Facebook -- we're certainly going to look into it," Doak says.

"If (something) comes to our attention and we're going to go spend time to chase information down -- using our resources -- those folks need to know that we don't take that stuff humorously."

Meanwhile, Heather McKenna, 35, is peeved that one of her friends thinks so little of her that he or she could imagine Heather actually assassinating her 37-year-old husband.

But when you have 470 "friends," not all of them are going to be close ones.

Such is the nature of the Facebook beast.

-- The Akron Beacon Journal

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 7, 2012 J2

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