You are listening to: The Evidence Locker.

Our cases have been researched using open source and archive materials. It deals with true crimes and real people. Some parts are graphic in nature and listener discretion is advised. Each episode is produced with the utmost respect to the victims, their families and loved ones.

This episode deals with details of suicide. If you are distressed or feel like you need help, please call Lifeline. You can find links and numbers in the show notes.

Retired schoolteacher, Celia Blay, lived in White Waltham, UK. She was mourning the loss of both her parents and had a lot of extra time, time she spent surfing the internet. During one of her searches, she stumbled upon a website for people contemplating suicide. Celia never knew something like this existed and was intrigued. She read the open forums and felt encouraged to see how many people care and supported each other to find help. As a former teacher, Celia knew how to communicate with young people and stepped in as a counsellor of sorts. On one forum, she chatted with a 17-year-old girl from Central America. The girl confided in her that things were not going too well. She was the victim of abuse and had decided to end her life, as she couldn’t see another way out.

Celia was mortified. She knew she had to do something to help the girl. So, remaining calm, she asked her about her planned suicide. The girl said she had made a pact with a nursing student she met online called Li Dao. Li Dao had given her instructions to hang herself while she watched the live stream on her computer.

Celia took it upon herself to find Li Dao and uncovered that this was not her first suicide pact. She strolled into a forum where Li Dao and another girl were in the last stages of planning their demises. Celia intervened and managed to convince the girl NOT to go through with it, only four hours before the intended event.

Celia felt like she had opened Pandora’s box. She made it her personal mission to warn people on online forums about Li Dao. The deeper she dug, the more she revealed… Li Dao also had two other handles: Falcongirl and Cami D. The online, typed conversations were all the same. Li Dao, a sweet and sympathetic person, convinced her online connections that suicide was the only way out. She made a pact, saying that she would watch them, so they didn’t have to die alone. Li Dao instructed the intended victims to switch on their webcam, so she could witness them taking their own lives. With her medical experience, she would also help them with advice if something went wrong. 

For months Celia collected evidence, and when she felt there was enough, she went to her local police station. They considered the case but did not deem it worth an investigation. They told her:

“If it bothers you, look the other way.”         

Two years later, in January 2008, Celia and a friend, Kat Lowe, were still on Li Dao’s trail. She was using the handle Cami D more often, and they devised a sting to entrap her. They learnt that one of Cami D’s online friends in Birmingham recorded his own suicide by hanging. With the help of another member on the website who had realised that Li Dao wasn’t who she pretended to be, the two sleuths managed to track down Cami D’s IP address. It led them to a family home in Minnesota. They had kicked the hornet’s nest and revealed an unsettling truth of manipulation and misrepresentation behind anonymous masks used on the world wide web.

>>Intro Music

Nadia Kajouji was a Canadian college student from Brampton, Ontario. She had enrolled to study law and politics at Carleton University, Ottawa – about a four-hour drive from home. Her freshman year started out with loads of fun and socialising. Nadia lived in a dorm on campus and enjoyed her new-found freedom. But her carefree days of going to class during the day and partying at night, were numbered. When Nadia and her long-term boyfriend broke up, she hit a bump in the road. However, she managed to get over it, picked herself up and started dating. Before Nadia knew it, she had fallen in love again. Sadly, this relationship was also short-lived, and it broke Nadia’s heart. 

It was a complicated break-up, because Nadia found out she was pregnant. They were still working through the shock of the unplanned pregnancy, when Nadia suffered a miscarriage. It was all too much for her to take and she slipped into a deep depression. Nadia changed her appearance, and the bright-eyed and bubbly freshman she used to be, was no longer there. Photos show her with heavy eyeliner and a thick fringe – like she wanted to hide from the world. Her friends were concerned about her. She used to be the life of the party, the one who invited everyone, but at this point, she hardly ever left her room. If her dorm mates knocked on her door, she’d ignore them.

Nadia visited her parents in Toronto in February of 2008, and they noticed she was not herself. But she didn’t want to talk about it and simply said she was tired. When her mom pleaded with her to open up. Nadia said she needed time – she would tell them what was going on when she was ready. So her parents knew something had happened, but they didn’t know what.

When Nadia returned to Carleton, she recorded a video diary, performing songs about her failed relationship. It was clear that it was a case of unrequited love. Nadia also had a candid conversation into the camera one time, in which she explained how helpless she felt: Nadia said she never meant to fall pregnant – they used a condom, and it broke. As an extra precaution, she took the morning-after pill, but that also failed. She had no control over the situation. As time went by, she accepted the fact that she was pregnant and felt that it was destined to be. But just as she made her peace with the situation, she lost the baby. Again, this was not what she wanted – to Nadia it seemed like destiny was out to get her.

Then Nadia disappeared… On Monday morning, 10 March 2008, Nadia did not show up for an appointment with her counsellor. The counsellor went to her dorm room, hoping to find her, but she didn’t answer the door. From inside, they heard music blaring. Students in the room next to Nadia’s said that it had been playing all night. Campus security unlocked the door, but Nadia wasn’t there. Her prom dress hung outside the wardrobe, like she was planning on wearing it. She had left her wallet with money and credit cards, and also her iPod. Her winter coat and shoes were missing, so it looked like Nadia left on her own accord.

Campus security contacted her parents in Toronto, and they had no idea where Nadia could be. Her mother had tried to reach her the night before, but Nadia never picked up the phone. Fearing that Nadia was missing, her parents travelled to Ottawa to join the search effort for their daughter. It was in the dead of the unforgiving Canadian winter and snow was more than three feet deep.

Nadia’s dad made a heartfelt public appeal for any information that could lead them to Nadia. They were deeply concerned, because it wasn’t like her to disappear without saying anything. 

During the search, Nadia’s parents spoke to many of her friends, as well as her counsellor. They were shocked to learn about Nadia’s mental state before she went missing. Her friends told them about Nadia’s anti-social behaviour and spent most of her time in her room. The counsellor told her parents that she had trouble sleeping and suffered from mood swings. She was prescribed sleeping tablets and anti-depressants, and often talked about ending her own life. They also learnt about an incident in a restaurant where Nadia was holding razor blades in her hands. She caused a scene, with blood dripping from her palms, begging someone to help her. Police were called and after filing the incident, they escorted Nadia back to her dorm room.

Her parents had no idea that Nadia had suicidal thoughts. They knew her love life was in shambles, but they didn’t realise that she had sunk into a deep depression. Although Nadia was receiving counselling, no one seemed to listen when she said she was so desperately tired and longed to be happy, and that she couldn’t function. In her video diary she said she was annoyed that no one took her urge to take her own life seriously.

Weeks after she was last seen, everyone was still looking for her. Police scoured her computer and discovered that she had been on many suicide websites, researching methods and talking about it. Nadia spent a lot of time online, connecting with people in forums on these sites. She met a student nurse, called Cami D, and finally felt someone understood what she was going through. Like Nadia, Cami D struggled with life’s ups and downs and was thinking about ending it all. 

Nadia’s parents read the conversations between Nadia and Cami D and were even more concerned for their daughter’s safety. Nadia referred to suicide as ‘catching the bus‘, a common term used by suicidal individuals. Catching the bus is often abbreviated to CTB in online conversations. Nadia told Cami D that she was planning to attempt to jump to her death. Cami D suggested she hanged herself instead, and asked if she could record herself doing so, as part of a suicide pact. As a nurse, she could watch Nadia and via live stream and help her to execute the plan effectively. Then, as part of the pact, when Nadia was done, Cami D would ‘catch the bus’ too.

This is an exert from an online conversation between Nadia and Cami D. Nadia starts by saying…

It’s a big relief to be able to talk to someone.

Cami D answers: 

Cool. I’m not trying to tell you how to do it. Just my experiences and opinions, that’s all.

Then Nadia: 

I understand. We want what’s best for each other.

Cami D: 

Yes, very much so. I don’t want you to fail ever! And end up messed up.

Nadia: 

That would be the worst.

Then Cami: replies: 

Oh, my God, yes, I see that happen a lot.

Nadia cautiously asks: 

What sort of stuff have you seen?

And Cami D answers openly:

I’m not trying to scare you. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen tons of failed overdoses and bad wrist cuttings and some failed jumpers. In seven years, I’ve never seen a failed hanging. That’s why I chose it.

Despite Cami D’s insistence that hanging was the best method, Nadia did not like it. She didn’t want her death to appear like a suicide. She believed that if her death were to be an accident, it would be easier for her family and friends to cope with. So, Nadia’s plan was to stage an ice-skating accident. She had spotted a crack in the ice under a nearby bridge. Nadia thought if she fell through the ice with her skates on, no one would know it was her own doing. Also, she knew she’d succeed because if she didn’t drown, she would succumb to hypothermia.

But Cami D insisted that hanging was the only way to go. And if they could do it together, it wouldn’t be so scary. When Nadia stopped for a minute to consider this option, Cami D was quick to give her specific instructions – what kind of rope to choose and where to buy it, how long and thick it should be and even how to look for a spot to hang herself from inside her dorm room. Cami D supported Nadia’s ice-skating idea but pushed her to buy the materials for hanging as a back-up, in case she changed her mind before jumping.

Nadia insisted that the staged accident-idea made her feel more comfortable. Sunday, March 9th was Nadia’s last contact with her online confidante – she said she was ready to go and would wait a couple of hours so there weren’t many people around. A blizzard was raging outside, and Nadia thought it was the perfect opportunity. She sent one last email to her dorm mates, saying that she was going out, ice skating. Then, wrapping herself up in her warm winter coat and flinging her skates over her shoulder, 19-year-old Nadia Kajouji walked out into the night, disappearing into the snowstorm, never to be seen alive again.  

Six weeks later, on the 20th of April, as spring arrived and the snow melted, Nadia’s body was found in the Rideau River. She had jumped off a bridge, into the icy river and died due to hypothermia. She was wearing ice skates – thinking of those who loved her, not wanting them to feel guilty about her suicide, and hoping they would believe it was an accident, nothing more. 

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (or RCMP) set out to find Nadia’s online confidante, Cami D. At that point, they did not realise that Nadia was not the only one who had entered a suicide pact with an unknown person online. Three years before her death, a British man also ended his own life. 32-year-old IT-engineer, Mark Drybrough lived in Coventry in England. As a teenager, Mark was a happy-go-lucky guy who enjoyed making people laugh. After high school he studied Computer Engineering in his hometown of Coventry and had a bright future. Mark was close to his family, had a girlfriend and many friends – life was good.

Then his girlfriend fell ill with a mysterious virus, and Mark picked it up too. Mark described it as feeling like you have ‘a flu that won’t go away’. He was never formally diagnosed, but Mark believed he had chronic fatigue syndrome. He was always exhausted and struggled to make it through a normal day. Eventually his relationship broke up, his friends stopped coming around and Mark dropped out of college. 

Battling with his physical health throughout his twenties impacted Mark’s mental health. He was in the prime of his life, but he had no energy to keep up the pace of everyday activities. When he reached his early thirties, Mark’s depression had become debilitating. The once-dynamic IT engineer struggled to keep down a job. After being fired from yet another contract, Mark suffered a nervous breakdown. While he was at home, recovering, he commenced communication on an online forum of a suicide website, where he met 20-something nurse, Li Dao. She was kind and understanding and discussed suicide methods with Mark. She gently encouraged a vulnerable and impressionable Mark to hang himself.

Mark considered her suggestions, but he felt hopeful about the future in moments of clarity and said that he didn’t want to go through with it. On Li Dao’s insistence, he practiced hanging himself by tying a rope to the doorknob of his bedroom, then slinging it over the door. In the end, Mark refused to practice again, because he didn’t want his parents to notice the marks on his necks. Li Dao supported his decision but nudged him to believe that suicide was the only way out of his misery. She confessed that she could no longer face the challenges in her own life and wished that he would ‘go’ with her.

At the end of July 2005, Mark sent one last message to Li Dao, in which he said:

“I keep holding on to the hope that things might change… I’m dying but slowly, day by day. I don’t want to waste [anyone’s] time. If you want someone who’s suicidal, I’m just not there yet. You either do it, or you don’t. And I don’t and I haven’t. I’m used to being alone. Sorry. I admire your courage, I wish I had it.” 

Four days later, on July 27, Mark did not show up to meet his sister, Carol. They had seen each other at a family dinner the night before and had made arrangements to meet in a park near his home. Carol tried to call, but couldn’t reach her brother, so she walked to his apartment. When he didn’t answer the door, she let herself in. There was a note for her, in Mark’s handwriting:

“Please call the police. Do not go upstairs, go home, hand this note to the police.”

Carol ignored his request and ran upstairs, to find her brother’s body in his bedroom. Mark Drybrough had hanged himself, with a rope tied to a ladder, like Li Dao had instructed him to do. The coroner found bruising on the left side of Mark’s neck where Li Dao had suggested he tied the knot, so he would quickly drift into unconsciousness.

Not long after Mark’s death, English sleuths Celia Blay and Kat Lowe connected an IP address to online users: Li Dao, Cami D and Falcongirl. Like Nadia and Mark, Kat Lowe had made a suicide pact with Cami D, but she changed her mind when she realised that she was not the only one. She was shocked to look at Cami D with fresh eyes and saw how she used the same gentle manner with other people too. Multiple people opened up to Cami D and she vowed to support them to the end. And in the end they’d catch the bus together.

At this time, Kat Lowe read some of Celia’s posts, warning people against Cami D. She reached out to Celia and said that she would like to work with her, to expose the person behind the alias. They kept an eye on suicide websites and were sickened by how many false suicide pacts the young nurse had made. But she wouldn’t only encourage suicide, she also enjoyed watching teens harm themselves. Cami D suggested to one young lady that she ended her life, cutting herself with blades. Her tone was always caring and sweet, using terms like “I know hon..“, and she signed off saying “hugs“. She seemed to respond only to the most desperate messages, like this one posted by ‘retardstoner’:

“I need to die. Tonight. Period.”

Withing minutes Falcongirl replied: Check your email. This was her typical pattern: she’d find people who were ready to take the plunge, then start private conversations, giving them comfort – and step-by-step instructions. In every instance, she asked them to record themselves on webcam.

Celia posted on open forums, warning people about Li Dao, Cami D and Falcongirl. Although the website was mainly visited by people with suicidal thoughts, it was a supportive community. Most members encouraged each other to find help or offered a shoulder to cry on. But many of them who had had contact with Li Dao felt she was too pushy. 

22-year-old Nikola Trifunovic from Croatia posted on the forum that he could see no other way out than to hang himself. Li Dao immediately replied with her customary ‘Check your email’. The two of them grew very close over six months. Li Dao claimed she was ready to CTB but would wait till Nikola (who used the name ‘Jim’) was ready too. They were in frequent contact and Li Dao supported Jim and coached him to prepare for his hanging. Nikola saw some people asking about Li Dao on the public forum, raising concern that she had been quiet for a while. They speculated whether the ever-supportive Li Dao had gone through with it. Nikola jumped into the conversation and said that he had been in contact with Li Dao the day before, and that she wouldn’t take her own life, because she was waiting for him to join her. Someone else replied:

“She told you that too? Oy…”

Shortly after that, Nikola received a message from Li Dao’s email account li_dao05@yahoo.com. But the news was not from Li Dao; it was from her mother, Xao Pi Zeng. She said that Li Dao hanged herself in the basement and although she was sad, she was grateful that her daughter was finally free from pain. Nikola was devastated and felt lost without Li Dao to confide in. He experienced a sense of obligation to see through the pact he had made with her and tried to bring himself to catch the bus too. While Nikola was making his final arrangements, he saw her name pop up in another forum. He looked on in disbelief as she spoke to others in the exact same way that she talked to him. Nikola realised that Li Dao wasn’t who she said she was. Others had suspected it, but he always defended her. But now he knew for sure. An enraged Nikola posted:

“This is not Li, not Li we know, she doesn’t exist, it’s some perve fucking with us.”

Back in the UK, Celia Blay and Kat Lowe learnt about Mark Drybrough’s tragic death, and approached his mom, Elaine. Elaine said that her son was a true-blue computer guy who spent most of his time in front of his device. She shared Mark’s online conversations and email correspondence between him and Li Dao with Celia and Kat. Although Mark also engaged with someone called Falcongirl, Li Dao was the one who encouraged Mark to hang himself. She also sent a detailed email, giving Mark step-by-step instructions outlining how to plan and execute his own hanging. Elaine Drybrough vowed to work with Celia and Kat to unmask this person who manipulated Mark to end his life, when he clearly stated he was not ready to do so.

One day, Celia and Kat were in an online chatroom with Cami D when ‘her’ webcam accidentally went on. In a split-second Celia and Kat saw that Cami D was not a young female nurse. She was, in fact, a middle-aged man. Thinking on her feet, Celia snapped a photo of her computer screen with her cell phone. She compared the image with a photo of a man and a woman, Cami D had sent to Kat previously. Cami D said she was the woman in the picture: a kind-looking middle-aged woman with a warm smile. But the brief flicker into Cami D’s real identity, revealed that she was a man – the man in the same photo. 

Kat, who had built up a good rapport with her online friend, called him on it, and said:

“You’re a man?”

He replied: 

“Does it matter?”

Kat pretended to be completely unfazed and said: 

“No.”

She even went so far as to give him her personal email address. And unbelievably, he emailed her, using his actual legal name: William Melchert-Dinkel. 

Celia and Kat felt the urgency to do something about Melchert-Dinkel’s online activities. This man was catfishing others and encouraging them to kill themselves, while he watched. Celia had transcripts of at least 10 conversations in which the same person made suicide pacts with people. Where others tried to help suicidal individuals, Melchert-Dinkel, posing as Cami D, Li Dao and Falcongirl, was doing everything in his power to push people over the edge. Celia wrote everything she had uncovered in an affidavit and sent it to the FBI. 

Celia and Kate were sure something would come of it, but months went by and they still had no response. What they didn’t know, was that the affidavit had never made it to the FBI. As days rolled into weeks, and weeks into months, Celia and Kat got tired of waiting and looked for another way to bring Melchert-Dinkel to justice. By this time, they knew he lived in a small town in Minnesota. They approached local law enforcement, hoping that they could explain the urgency of the situation to them. Much to their relief, The Saint Paul Police Department took on the case. Because many of Melchert-Dinkel’s contacts were teenagers, the Minnesota Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force agreed to assist Saint Paul PD with the case.

Meanwhile, Ottawa police investigating Nadia Kajouji’s death, were able to establish the IP address of Cami D, the online persona who encouraged Nadia to end her life. This information led them to a family home in the rural town of Faribault, Minnesota. But from Canada’s side, they were only able to learn who lived in the house. They couldn’t ascertain who used the computer and posed as Cami D. They spoke to William Melchert-Dinkel over the phone, expressing concern that one of his teenage daughters entered into a suicide pact with Nadia. Melchert-Dinkel confirmed that one of his daughters occasionally used the handle’ falcongirl’ and he promised he would talk to her about it.

At this point, the RCMP accepted the father’s word for it. They were relieved that, at the very least, his daughter didn’t go through with the pact. They didn’t realise that they were actually talking to the person acting as ‘falcongirl’, William-Melchert Dinkel himself. 

But thanks to three years’ worth of research presented to Minnesota law enforcement by the two British sleuths, Celia and Kate, Melchert-Dinkel’s number was up. Police went to the home in Faribault that matched the computer’s IP address used in the forums on suicide websites, but no one was home. Because of all the suicide pacts made online, police feared William Melchert-Dinkel had gone through with it. And because there was no sign of his family, they assumed the worst: was this a murder-suicide?

Police wasted no time and quickly established that the Melchert-Dinkel family was not home, because they had gone on vacation. Relieved that no one was harmed, investigators waited for them to return, before arresting the 45-year-old married father-of-two. When police arrested Melcert-Dinkell at his home, he immediately knew what it was about. He did not resist arrest and stated that he had been involved in inappropriate conversations about suicide online. Because of his medical background, he felt that he could guide people in fulfilling their final wishes. In his view, he was not a counsellor, but rather an advocate. During police questioning Melcert-Dinkell admitted he pretended to be a young female nurse, using three handles: Li Dao, Falcongirl and Cami D. He said he did what he did for the ‘thrill of the chase‘.

Former nurse, William Francis Melchert-Dinkel was born on the 20th of July 1962. He lived in the small town of Faribault and was married to Joyce, a surgical nurse. They had two daughters, who were teenagers at the time. Neighbours described him as a ‘great dad’ who attended church regularly. The photo he had sent his online friends, was a family photo of himself, Joyce and their daughters. The one with the warm smile, whom Cami D pretended to be, was, in fact, his wife.  

The Melchert-Dinkel family lived in a beautiful single-story house at 510 Littleford Lane, with a manicured lawn and charming shutters. From the outside-in, it looked like they had the perfect life. 

However, unbeknownst to neighbours and friends, William never had a good professional reputation. His career was riddled with issues. Patients complained that he was too rough with them and that he did not provide appropriate care. He failed to report on patients’ progress, and often administered the wrong medication. One time he even dressed the wrong foot of a patient who had had a toe amputated.

Melchert-Dinkel, not his wife, nor his daughter, was the one who created the three aliases online: Li Dao, Cami D, Falcongirl. Each one of these ‘personas’ was supposedly a twenty-something nurse, who suffered from depression and contemplated suicide. Using these pseudonyms, Melchert-Dinkel engaged with people who wanted to end their own lives, and advised them about which methods would be the most efficient. He spent countless hours over five years, talking to others about suicide. His preferred method was hanging, and in the end, he had entered into more than ten suicide pacts, with people, mostly young teens, from all around the world.

After RCMP reached out to Melchert-Dinkel about Nadia Kajouji’s death, he became anxious and visited the emergency department at his local hospital. He said that he had a ‘suicide fetish’ and was addicted to online suicide websites. His nursing license was revoked, not only because of his unethical conduct, but also because of his sketchy working record.

Still, law enforcement took their time in making their arrest. The frustrating part is that Celia Blay went to the police in the UK, before Nadia Kajouji ended her life. Arguably, without prompting from Melchert-Dinkel, aka Cami D, Nadia could have been saved, had police followed up on the information Celia gave them.

Melchert-Dinkel homed in on Nadia, as he did with Mark Drybrough three years before, because she looked like she was serious about ending her life. Although he said he couldn’t recall Mark, Cami D (in a conversation with Kat Lowe) mentioned that she had witnessed the hanging of a young man ‘near Birmingham’. Coventry, where Mark was from, is only 20 miles from Birmingham. Also, Saint Paul Police confiscated Melchert-Dinkel’s computer. They found many photos of suicide, nooses, pictures of people hanging, personal photos of Nadia Kajouji and an article about Mark Drybrough’s death. So, saying that he couldn’t recall who Mark Drybrough was, was a blatant lie.

While awaiting his trial, Melchert-Dinkel was not allowed to use the internet in any way, shape or form. How that was monitored and if he complied, we don’t know.

His trial was brought before the court of Rice County, Minnesota in March 2011. Although he claimed he was involved in at least five suicide pacts, he was only charged with assisting Nadia Kajouji and Mark Drybrough. Prosecution knew of these two cases and set out to find enough physical evidence to link Melchert-Dinkel to their deaths. As for the other five, Melchert-Dinkel was convinced that they had gone through with it. But they used anonymous handles, and he did not know their real identity or locations, so it was difficult to ascertain if they were alive or dead.

The email address li_dao05@yahoo.com belonged to William Melchert-Dinkel, and retrospook@ntlworld.com was Mark Drybrough’s.  faclongril@hotmail.com was also linked to Melchert-Dinkel and tearawayface@msn.com belonged to Nadia Kajouji. Computer forensics proved the correspondence between the victims was with William Melchert-Dinkel, posing as someone else. 

This was an unusual case, because although assisting someone in suicide is illegal in America and Britain, no one had ever been charged for assisting suicide online. On March 15, 2011, Melchert-Dinkel was convicted of two counts of aiding a suicide via Internet chat rooms – a punishable offence in Minnesota. Melchert-Dinkel was facing either 15 years in prison, or a $30,000 fine. On the 4th of May 2011, he was sentenced to 360 days in jail.

At Melchert-Dinkel’s lawyer’s request, the Minnesota Supreme Court agreed to review Melchert-Dinkel’s case and overturned the conviction. The reason for this was that, according to state law, he was practicing freedom of speech. The high court stated that the First Amendment of the US Constitution protected a person’s right to advise or encourage someone to end their life. However, using speech to assist with a suicide was not protected by the First Amendment. 

Melchert-Dinkel’s lawyer, Terry Watkins told The Telegraph, London:

“We did not dispute the facts of the case, but our argument was always that what Mr Melchert-Dinkel did was protected as free speech and that he did not assist the acts of suicide. We are not condoning his actions and there is no attempt to suggest that anything he did is anything but salacious, immoral or depraved. But we believe that it was protected by the first amendment of the constitution.”

The case was handed back down to the lower court, to determine whether Melchert-Dinkel only encouraged suicide, or if he assisted. Encouraging suicide is not a crime but assisting in the act is. William Melchert-Dinkel was found guilty of assisted suicide and given a three-year suspended sentence with 10 years’ probation, providing he served 360 days.

Judge Thomas Neuville concluded that Melchert-Dinkel’ intentionally advised and encouraged‘ the suicides of Nadia Kajouji and Mark Drybrough. When Melchert-Dinkel had the opportunity to speak, he said:

“I am sorry… For my actions and what I have done. I have repented.”

Ottawa Police Service never charged Melchert-Dinkel for his involvement under Canada’s assisted suicide law. Because Melchert-Dinkel was an American citizen, prosecuting him for a crime he committed from his home in the US, was problematic. The fact that he was prosecuted in America, was enough for them.

In the end, William Melchert-Dinkel was found guilty of assisting Mark Drybrough in his journey to end his own life. Because Nadia Hajouji chose her own method, not hanging as he insisted on, he was found guilty of attempting to assist her. 

Melchert-Dinkel only served 178 days in prison and received 10-years’ probation. Although he is a free man, his lawyer continues to appeal the conviction, hoping to clear him of all charges.

William Melchert-Dinkel claimed that he was merely an advocate for suicide. Of course, many people are pro-choice; that is supporting the idea that any person should be able to choose if they wanted to take their own life or not. However, Melchert-Dinkel wasn’t merely an advocate. He was a predator of the worst kind, seeking out troubled souls in their most vulnerable state, and guiding them down a dark and lonely road, hoping they would film their most intimate final moments and share it with him.

By giving his victims clear instructions to successfully end their lives, he WAS assisting them. Then, to provide them with a deadline of sorts, he deceived them by making a pact: I’ll do it if you do it too. It was the final emotional push, a comfort to some, knowing they won’t be alone in the end. But also, it placed a tremendous amount of pressure on them to go through with it. Nadia couldn’t face Melchert-Dinkel’s suggestion of hanging herself. Mark said that he still had a glimmer of hope that things would be okay. By his own admission, Melchert-Dinkel was ‘in it for the chase’ – playing God over people’s lives was a game to him. He wasn’t merely an advocate who agreed with their right to choose. He was an instructor, who donned the disguise of a female nurse, pretending to be warm, caring, knowledgeable and trustworthy.

Both Nadia and Mark had family and friends who cared deeply for them and would have done anything to help them, had they known how desperately depressed they were. Of course, we cannot say for sure that Nadia and Mark would NOT have gone through with it. But if there was no Cami D or Li Dao, perhaps they would have turned to their loved ones for help, instead of confiding in someone who only had the cruellest of intentions. 

If you’d like to read more about this case, have a look at the resources used for this episode in the show notes.

Also visit and like our Facebook Page at facebook.com/evidencelockerpodcast” to see more about today’s case. If you like our podcast, please subscribe in Apple Podcast or wherever you are listening right now.

This was The Evidence Locker. Thank you for listening!

©2021 Evidence Locker Podcast

All rights reserved. This podcast or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a podcast review.