Blogging is generally a benign, silly, typo-ridden, fact-challenged, and entirely inconsequential pastime—but not always, as many of the following real-life stories gruesomely illustrate. In some instances, these victims lost their lives as a direct result of their blogging; in others it was merely incidental. But every case was fatal.
1. Jessica Ghawi (USA)
A young sports blogger, Ms. Ghawi was shot down during the infamous Dark Knight Rises massacre at a Colorado movie theater in July 2012. A month earlier, she’d narrowly escaped death during a shooting spree at a Toronto food court. After that incident she’d blogged:
I can’t get this odd feeling out of my chest. This empty, almost sickening feeling won’t go away….I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath. For one man, it was in the middle of a busy food court on a Saturday evening.
Her last online post was a Tweet directed to a hockey writer for Sporting News: “MOVIE DOESN’T START FOR 20 MINUTES.” Soon afterward, she was one of 12 dead victims.
2. Christine Keith (USA)
Beloved as the woman behind the “Adventures of a Thrifty Mama” blog, this Michigan Zumba instructor and mother of four had separated from her unemployed husband and filed court papers alleging that he’d repeatedly threatened to kill her with his hunting rifle. One night in the summer of 2013, her estranged husband showed up with a rifle and murdered both her and one of her sons before killing himself.
3. Ahmed Rajib Haider (Bangladesh)
An architect and anti-Islamist blogger who joined mass protests against fundamentalist authorities, Haider was attacked by two masked men outside his home and chopped to death one night in February 2013. A bloody machete was found next to his laptop.
4, 5, 6, 7. Mexican Cartel Victims, Autumn 2011
Next to Iraq, Mexico is purportedly the most dangerous place on Earth for journalists, with an estimated 58 reporters, editors, and photographers having been slaughtered by drug gangs since 2000. In September of 2011, a pair of unnamed “narco-bloggers” were found hanging from a pedestrian overpass in Nuevo Laredo with a sign allegedly identifying them as “Internet Snitches.” Later in September, 39-year-old Elizabeth Macias, who blogged under the pseudonym “Laredo Girl,” was found beheaded with a sign that allegedly said:
Nuevo Laredo en Vivo and social networking sites, I’m The Laredo Girl, and I’m here because of my reports, and yours. For those who don’t want to believe, this happened to me because of my actions, for believing in the army and the navy. Thank you for your attention, respectfully, Laredo Girl…ZZZZ.
In November of that year, an anti-cartel blogger who wrote under the pseudonym Rascatripas (“Belly Scratcher”) was found beheaded with this note near his carcass: This happened to me for not understanding that I shouldn’t report on the social networks.
8. Edinaldo Filgueira (Brazil)
A pro-worker political party leader and newspaper owner, Filgueira was thought to have been shot to death in June of 2011 as the result of a blog entry that criticized local government officials. He had received death threats subsequent to his fatal post and was gunned down by three men on motorcycles while leaving his newspaper office.
9. Robert Chasowa (Malawi)
A 25-year-old student at a Polytechnic School in this tiny eastern African country, Chasowa reportedly received threats after criticizing the regime of President Bingu wa Mutharika. He was eventually murdered on campus in September 2011. Police originally ruled the death a suicide, although a special commission concluded that he had been murdered.
10. Zakariya Rashid Hassan al-Ashiri (Bahrain)
In April 2011, this Bahraini blogger was arrested and charged with spreading false information and inciting hatred against the government. He was found dead while still in custody. Although officials said he had died from sickle cell anemia, photos of his slashed corpse emerged and led to an investigation which concluded he had been beaten by authorities. They eventually filed his case under “Deaths Caused by Torture.”
11. Socratis Giolas (Greece)
An investigative journalist and blogger who allegedly wrote about Greece’s “seamier underside,” Giolas was allegedly shot sixteen times on the doorstep of his Athens home in front of his pregnant wife by a radical Marxist group known as the Sect of Revolutionaries. The 2010 slaying was timed mere days before he was scheduled to publish “an investigative series on corruption.”
12. Magomed Yevloyev (Russia)
The owner of a news website in the Russian Republic of Ingushetia that was known for its oppositional stance toward the republic’s president, Yevloyev was taken into police custody in August 2008, whereupon he was fatally shot in the temple. Police claimed he’d tried to grab one of their rifles, an explanation that has not been accepted by global human-rights organizations or the US government.
13. Sattar Beheshti (Iran)
An Iranian blogger who’d repeatedly criticized the Islamic Republic’s government on Facebook, Beheshti was detained by the Iranian Cyber Police in late October 2012. The day prior to his arrest, he allegedly posted the following on his blog:
They threatened me yesterday and said, ‘Your mother will soon wear black because you don’t shut your big mouth.’
After his arrest, he filed a signed complaint to his prison warden stating the following:
I, Sattar Beheshti, was arrested by FATA and beaten and tortured with multiple blows to my head and body….I want to write that if anything happens to me, the police are responsible.
On November 6, his family was notified to come and “collect his body.” A member of the Iranian Parliament denied that he had been murdered while in custody but instead had died of “shock and fear” despite the fact that 41 Iranian prisoners signed a letter that said “signs of torture were visible on the blogger’s body.”
14. Mohammed Nabbous (Libya)
A renowned Libyan blogger and “civilian journalist” who founded an independent TV channel, Nabbous was shot dead in March 2011 by a loyalist sniper in Benghazi while filming a broadcast about clashes between government forces and revolutionaries.
15. Simon Ng (USA)
A teenage Chinese immigrant to the US, Ng and his sister were stabbed to death in Queens, NY in 2005 by his sister’s ex-boyfriend, who allegedly was trying to rob them of money for a return trip to Hong Kong. Police located the perpetrator after reading a blog entry of Ng’s posted only moments before his murder where he stated that the ex-boyfriend was getting agitated and that he wished he would leave.
16. Dennis Lane (USA)
Reputedly a “popular” Maryland “blogger and podcast co-host,” Lane was allegedly stabbed to death by his 14-year-old daughter and her 19-year-old boyfriend in May 2013. Police reportedly said, “It’s our detectives’ understanding that [Lane’s daughter and her boyfriend] have conspired over the last two months, exchanging electronic communication about planning to kill Mr. Lane.”
17. Diing Chan Awuol (South Sudan)
Blogging and writing professional news stories under the pseudonym “Isaiah Abraham,” Awuol was openly critical of his government and urged “an improvement with former enemies in Khartoum.” As a result, he had reportedly received phoned death threats saying, “either stop writing or we will get rid of you.” A week later, they got rid of him.
18. Steven Vincent (Iraq)
An author, journalist, and travel blogger who wrote several investigative pieces about corruption among Shia militias, Vincent and an Iraqi translator were kidnapped by men in police uniforms in the city of Basra in 2005. He was bound, gagged, beaten, and shot to death.
19 Andrew Olmsted (Iraq)
An Army major with his own website, Olmsted wrote an ominously prophetic entry in July 2007 as he headed to Iraq. He gave it to a friend and told him to publish it if he were to be killed:
The ability to put my thoughts on (virtual) paper and put them where people can read and respond to them has been marvelous, even if most people who have read my writings haven’t agreed with them.…I have my own opinions about what we should do about Iraq, but since I’m not around to expound on them I’d prefer others not try and use me as some kind of moral capital to support a position I probably didn’t support.
Olmstead also wrote that if he got killed, he would miss “not being able to blog any longer.” He was killed in action, and the blog post was published posthumously.
20. Renée Wathelet (Mexico)
A 60-year-old Canadian expatriate living in Mexico and blogging in French, Wathelet posted the following in September 2009:
I look at the sun emerging gently from the clouds, before beginning my morning walk, from sand to the rocks, the rocks to the sand….I try to imagine the beauty….I take the time to take the time.
Later that day, she was stabbed to death.