Federal authorities arrested a man after he asked a 17-year-old girl he met on Facebook if she knew anyone who might be able to “put a cap” in his wife, in one of the strangest intersections of social media, false identity and court proceedings to date.
David Voelkert, who had “friended” the teen, started discussing the custody battle he was fighting with his ex-wife, Angela Voelkert. But the “girl” was actually a fake profile created by his ex-wife, who asked a friend to play the role, in an effort to gather evidence that her ex-husband didn’t deserve custody of their children.
The plan worked even better than she hoped: Mr. Voelkert eventually told the girl that he had put a tracking device on his ex-wife’s car and would “find someone to take care of her.”
He asked the supposed teen if she knew any “gangbangers” at school who would be willing to murder his wife for $10,000. He also asked the girl to run away with him and his children.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested the Mr. Voelkert. But in court he produced a notarized affidavit, signed six days before he asked for a hitman, claiming he suspected the “girl” was actually his wife or a friend of hers.
He proclaimed his intention to go along with the ploy in order to prove to the custody court that his ex-wife continued to meddle in his life.
The FBI dropped all charges.
As social media becomes increasingly intertwined with everyday life, Facebook plays an increasing role as a source of tension in divorce cases.
As Facebook and other social media sites increasingly mirror people’s real lives, their digital revelations are being used as evidence in court, both to condemn and exonerate them. Family law attorneys reportedly advise clients to refrain from making disparaging remarks about their soon-to-be-ex-spouse or any professional involved in divorce proceedings on Facebook.
Many of these instances appear to illustrate that users have a poor grasp of how postings detailing bad behavior could come back to haunt them.
But the Voelkert case appears to break new ground in with its unique blend of false identity and role playing. Its possible that such cases will actually become more common as people use social networking’s ability to mask the real person at the keyboard in order to entrap others.