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When Facebook relationship status updates turn deadly: what the murder of British mom tells us

Tim Powers

Law Office of Tim Powers


Tuesday, a mom of four in England sealed her fate with a click of the mouse: Hayley Jones changed her Facebook status from "married" to "single" and was fatally stabbed by Brian Lewis, a jealous boyfriend, according to the London Daily Mail.

Jones isn't the first to meet a tragic end after a seemingly innocent Facebook update: In a 2008 case, Wayne Forrester, a truck driver in London, stabbed his wife Emma to death for the same reason: she'd become "single" on Facebook four days after he left their home, according to the BBC.

While a public posting of one's marital status rarely ends in a violent death, it can elicit feelings of helplessness, revenge and anger in the spurned partner.

"Single or married are just words, but when you put one of them up on Facebook, it's like telling the whole world," says Dr. Lisa Rene Reynolds, author of "Still A Family."

"The Internet is far better than any bar for word to spread about a relationship ending. It's one thing to go around town saying you're single but it's a very different thing to post it on Facebook. "

Her children found Jones, 26, stabbed a few days after she changed her status on the social networking site, according to the Daily Mail. Her killer, a 31-year-old ex-teen sweetheart, has been jailed for life, according to the Mail. A week after Jones changed her profile, Lewis was heard telling friends that if he couldn't have her no one else would "because I'll kill her first."

Losing a partner or spouse is painful under any circumstances but it's magnified when it's put out on social networking sites, says Michele Weiner-Davis, social worker, marriage therapist and author of "Divorce Busting."

"There is no higher form of rejection than when one person decides to leave and the other person has no veto power," she says. "The devastation that the person feels is primal. We are wired to be connected to other people and when one person decides they're no longer interested, it shakes our identity."

Announcing one's intentions on Facebook is "the ultimate rejection," she says. "The person tends to think that it means they're not lovable. It can be very unraveling."

Most Facebook users don't look death in the eye when they indicate a change in their relationship status and may not even post it. But for many people, getting it up on Facebook is important because people like the idea of being famous, says Dr. Scott Haltzman, psychiatrist and the author of "The Secrets of Happily Married Men" and "Eight Keys to Building a Lifetime of Connection and Contentment."

"There is something about going public that makes people feel validated and more real," he says. "Putting something on Facebook, for many people, is like having your name in the newspaper. It's like getting public recognition for yourself."

But that recognition can be dangerous when an unstable ex with serious control issues sees it. "There can be rage and jealousy," Reynolds says. "And in some instances, it becomes a domestic violence concern."

If you are seeking aggressive criminal representation by an experienced criminal defense attorney for your Denton County criminal case or arrest in Denton County, contact the offices of Tim Powers today. There is no charge or obligation for the initial consultation. 940.580.2899.

*Tim Powers is an attorney licensed to practice law by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice about any specific legal question you should directly consult an attorney.