“All of this strikes us as weird,” says Capt. Danny R. Barlow, a veteran investigator with the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Department.
From its launch in 1979 and well into the 1990s, Usenet played host to the net’s most important discussion boards. Although the original groups (comp, humanities, misc, news, rec, sci, soc and talk) are significant in internet history, it’s the famous alt.* newsgroup that owns the weirdest legacy of them all. The two main catalysts for the creation of alt.* were alt.sex and alt.drugs discussion groups that had both been forbidden elsewhere. alt.rocknroll was launched out of necessity.
Alt.drugs saw the rise of online drug culture. Alt.sex played a similar role in the birth of sex on the internet. It was the home of a freewheeling, free-to-enter discussion on sex that could not be found anywhere else in print, on a screen or on the planet. By 1993, 3.3 million people were reading alt.sex according to Brian Reid.
Sharon Lopatka, a 35-year-old woman living in Maryland, frequented alt.sex groups throughout 1996. By then, she had been married to Victor Lopatka for six years. The couple had no children.
Sharon’s internet activity was varied. Using America Online, she ran a few “modest businesses” on the internet, according to Baltimore Timeline, including a 900 number she used to provide psychic readings to callers. Her other businesses offered “$50 copywriting and editing” and “home decorating secrets”, reported the New York Daily News.
Lopatka also advertised pornographic videos under the name Nancy Carlson. She became notorious around various alt.sex.* newsgroups for the wild nature of the tapes.
On July 23, 1996, she posted this advertisement on alt.sex.amazon-women.admirers:
DO YOU DARE ENTER…..”THE LAND OF THE GIANTESSES”???
Where men are crushed like bugs….cities and towns are destroyed
in seconds by these angry…yet gorgeous giant goddesses. They
are in control…and DESTROY EVERYTHING in their path.
Never has a film been made before…to show the EXTREMES that
these giant women will go to…to crush and control!
You can now own your copy of this incredible 60 minute video to
view privately in the comfort of your own home. All orders are sent
in a plain brown envelope with shipping label to protect
Send $30 + $3 shipping cash…check…or M.O.
($6 shipping for foreign orders) to:
Nancy Carlson Productions
P.O. Box 721
Hampstead, MD 21074
* If you have any questions about this exciting new video
you can write me at : nan…@cris.com
“Nancy” showed up in groups like alt.sex.fetish.feet, alt.sex.fetish.giants, alt.sex.fetish.robots, alt.sex.fetish.bondage and alt.sex.fetish.sleepy advertising similar tapes that catered directly to each group’s specific fetish. It seemed like she was a smart fetish porn production entrepreneur ready to monetize the lively community around alt.sex.*.
Actually, she was a scammer, promising videos that never existed. Dozens of people sent money into “Nancy Carlson Productions” in hopes of receiving a tape that satisfied their particular fetish.
Typically, the customer would exchange emails with Nancy wherein she would convince them that she was a legitimate businesswoman. The money would be sent, Nancy would cease contact and customers would wonder what had happened to their cash.
When serial scammer Nancy tried to move on to sell a video to a robot fetish group, previous victims showed up. “Nancy Carlson – scam, scam, scam,” wrote Argon15.
I see nancy has migrated to this newsgroup promising a too good to be
true video…She did the same thing in alt.sex.fetish.giants, promissing a
video for $33.00. A dozen or so people sent in for the tape and never
recieved it. When some questioned if it was a scam, a misterous poster,
who I have never seen in the group, claimed he had gotten the video and
how great it was. He also stated that it took awhile to get it, to keep
us thinking it was legit for a few more weeks. Those who sent in money
have tried email and snailmail, but have not gotten a response or the
video. Save yourself the money and forget about this offer.
On October 3, in the alt.sex.fetish.sleepy group, user Joe posted all he knew about Nancy’s scheme:
Out of curiosity, I did a Deja News search of Nancy Carlson.
There appears to be some complaints in other newsgroups about great
promise but lack of performance.
We are not the only group on which she has peddled her dreamy
videos. The results of the search appear after my comments
I suspect that she lurks on various groups and reads the posts to
get an excellent sense of what would excite the group’s readers.
Then whe writes a lovely ad with a description that would turn on
readers of the group and which motivates them to buy her tape. The
day after her original post, there was a glowing description from
someone who claimed to have bought the tape after reading about it
on another newsgroup. However there were no posts to other groups -
at least about this tape – therefore, I must presume that author was
I’d love to find out that it is legit and that there *is* a sexy
sleepy tape available but I’m not holding my breath. After all, many
women would probably be willing to be hypnotized for a video but I
can’t imagine anyone willing to be chloroformed (chloroform is no
longer used in medecine because it is extremely toxic and dangerous)
or otherwise drugged for a lark.
If the video actually exists, perhaps Nancy or one of the buyers
who receives the video can scan a few of the hotter images and post
them here to offer proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Here is the info from the Deja News Author Profile on her posting
AUTHOR PROFILE: nan…@pop3.concentric.net
48 articles posted between 1996/06/03 and 1996/10/01.
4 % followups.
Number of articles posted to individual newsgroups (slightly
skewed by cross-postings):
While her husband became “a familiar face” around her Maryland town, Sharon spent most of her time online, reported the New York Daily News. On August 9, 1996, she made her first post on alt.sex.weight-gain under the name “Gina108″ titled “Feedee looking for a serious feeder!”:
I’ve been looking for a feeder now for a while now and I can’t find one.
My name is Gina and I am presently at 235 pounds. My weight goal is 475pounds. I am not interested in an e-mail correspondence or a phonefeeding..what i would really like is the REAL thing! I am willing to beforcefed to meet my goal if necessary. I am also willing to relocate if
thats what it takes to find the right feeder. I am only looking for
serious replies. I am hoping someone out there will help me out and share
in the most erotic experience of their life. I don’t want to break up any
marriages…so if your your married please don’t respond to this post.
Thanks for listening:)
My e-mail address is ————————-gina1
Feeding is sexual fetish involving a strong attraction to obesity. The feeder supplies the feedee with food in an effort to have her (it’s most often a woman) gain weight.
There was only one response to her post from user El Porkadero: “Bobbi Sanchez is ready and willing.” It seems that Sharon’s request went nowhere.
On August 22, 2006, she made a post to alt.sex.necrophilia looking for a different sort of sexual satisfaction titled “Want To Talk About Torturing To Death……???”
Hi my name is Gina. I was wondering if anyone out there would want to talk about the subject mentioned above with me. I kind of have a fascination
with torturing till death…of course i can’t speak about it with my
friends or family. Would love to have an e-mail exchange with someone…If
your interested…e-mail me at:
* I Hope you all don’t think I’m strange or anything…I just want to
talk about it…
She received two public replies on alt.sex.necrophilia.
“Hi Gina,” wrote MasoVictim. “Yehh! I am really into that! Such snenarios excites me a lot, but not only the phantasy thing. Experianced painloving men want to exchange thoughts… Please repeat your e-mail-adress. Regards. masov…@aol.com”
“Hi Gina…,” wrote Mark A Ferdman. “Of course, we all have our fantasies. Would like to share mine with, one of which is to torture a naked woman to death. Would you like to hear about it ??? mafm…@ccnet.com”
In private, she received emails from potential suitors.
First, Sharon exchanged messages with a man in New Jersey. She arranged to meet him, “be sexually tortured and then slain, law enforcement sources say. But when she went there, he backed out, the sources say.”
TruTV reported on Sharon’s postings:
The News & Observer found more than 50 such messages of Sharon’s over several months. Many were found on Internet sites such as fetishfeet.com and sexbondage.com. The overriding theme of Sharon’s messages was that she wanted to be tortured and killed. Often, she would post messages on the Internet looking for a man to satisfy her wish. A sex rights activist named Tanith, who often visited the sites, told the Washington Post that she became concerned with Sharon’s bizarre messages. On November 3, 1996, the Post quoted Tanith saying that Sharon was “going to chat rooms and asking to be tortured to death.” Tanith had tried to stop her, but Sharon refused. Sharon replied to the woman, “I want the real thing. I did not ask for you preaching to me.”
Robert Glass, a 45-year-old man living in North Carolina, emailed Sharon in August when the two met in fetish chat rooms. He had been recently divorced. His wife told the Baltimore Sun that the separation was due in large part to his obsession with the internet. Robert had long been active in various online communities under different names. He met Sharon using the name “Slowhand.”
Robert and Sharon exchanged 900 pages of “sexually explicit e-mail messages” in less than two months, according to investigators, focusing on “sex, torture, bondage and death.” Sharon wanted to be bound and tortured as she approached orgasm, she wrote. Robert explained in depth how he would fulfill that wish, reported TruTV.
Sharon closed most of her public postings by assuring readers that “I just want to talk about it”, that the fantasies weren’t meant to become reality. In contrast, the police said that she made it clear in emails with Robert that strangulation during sex leading to death was her “ultimate fantasy” and that she hoped it would be fulfilled. Robert responded by detailing how he would torture and kill her.
The Baltimore Sun wondered about the paths of Glass and Lopatka crossing:
Sharon Rena Lopatka, 35, and Robert F. Glass, 45, lived a world apart and probably would never have met, if not for the Internet. But in the anonymous realm of cyberspace, the two lonely hearts found each other and began what police say was an electronic-mail fling that delved deeply into fantasies of sexual torture and murder — and ultimately came true.
Despite their vastly different pasts, Glass and Lopatka had a few things in common, according to court records and investigators, family members and friends. They felt alone. They were secretly obsessed with sex. And they found solace on the Internet.
The emails continued from August until October 12, when Sharon took an Amtrak train to meet Robert in his rural North Carolina trailer.
She told her husband she was going to visit friends in Georgia. But she left what amounted to a suicide note, telling him “not to go after the one who did this to her” and that if her body is never retrieved, not to worry, because “I am at peace,” court records show.
Sharon’s husband found the note a week after her departure and then notified the police that his wife was missing. The police read Sharon’s online writing and emails, quickly determining that she had gone to visit Robert in North Carolina. They monitored his trailer for several days in hopes of finding Sharon alive.
Sharon and Robert acted out their violent sexual fantasies for about three days, according to Glass’s lawyer and an autopsy report. She had asked to be probed and tied up, including a rope around her neck meant to be tightened during her orgasm.
When Sharon was nowhere in sight after days of police staking Robert out, a search warrant was issued.
Investigators arrived at Bobby’s home while he was at work. The property surrounding the turquoise trailer was littered with rotten garbage and abandoned toys. The interior was equally dirty and cluttered. Still, they found items belonging to Sharon, as well as drug and bondage paraphernalia, child pornography, a pistol and thousands of computer disks.
Sharon’s decomposing body was found two and a half feet under a fresh mound of soil just 75 feet away from the trailer. Her limbs were bound with rope and a nylon cord was still around her neck. Her neck and breasts had fresh scrape marks on them. The trailer had been located near such dense woodland that investigators said they would have never found the body had it been buried only a little further away in the woods.
The death had been accidental, Robert insisted. “I don’t know how much I pulled the rope … I never wanted to kill her, but she ended up dead.” Autopsy reports supported Robert’s story — there was little sign of the sort of struggle one would expect if the episode was not voluntary –but investigators considered the death premeditated based on the couple’s email exchange.
Alt.* users reflected on the events.
“Slowhand isn’t a premeditated killer,” wrote eatsharks. “I believe that Slowhand made a severe mistake with Sharon, I have spoken to him many times under another alias and he has always been understanding and sensitive. Unfortunately he took “play” a bit too serious.”
After the firestorm of media coverage eventually faded in 2000, Robert pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and charges relating to the child pornography found on his computer. He was sentenced to 36 to 53 months in prison for the manslaughter of Sharon Lopatka and 21 to 26 months for possession of child pornography.
Robert Glass died in prison of a heart attack two weeks before his release.
More on the case:
Thanks to Michael K for the story.