Family and classmates of a Carleton University student who took her own life in 2008 said they were encouraged that a man who targeted her online has been convicted of aiding her suicide.
William Melchert-Dinkel, 48, of Faribault, Minn., was charged in April with two counts of aiding suicide in the March 2008 drowning of Nadia Kajouji, 18, of Brampton, Ont., as well as the hanging death of Mark Drybrough, 32, of Coventry, England.
A judge found the former Minnesota nurse guilty of aiding the two suicides on Tuesday after Melchert-Dinkel had declined a jury trial. Sentencing is scheduled to begin on May 4, though Melchert-Dinkel's lawyer said his client plans to appeal Tuesday's ruling.
Kajouji's older brother said "it was good to hear" news of the conviction, even though it won't bring his sister back.
"It shows that this crime isn't going unpunished and that's the bottom line," Marc Kajouji, 32, said from Brampton. "It could be a deterrent for the future."
The court heard that Melchert-Dinkel cruised online chat rooms for depressed people and posed as a female nurse, feigning compassion, and then entered into fake suicide pacts or gave instructions on how the people he contacted could kill themselves.
He entered into a suicide pact with Kajouji and tried to get her to hang herself while he watched via webcam. She instead jumped into the freezing Rideau River.
Rice County attorney Paul Beaumaster said Melchert-Dinkel told police he did it for the "thrill of the chase."
Cristina De Zulueta, a former classmate of Kajouji, was relieved to hear of the conviction. She said when Kajouji first disappeared it was a shock to the campus.
Students told CBC News they had mixed views on whether the conviction might provide some kind of closure for the campus.
But Carleton student Adam Craft said that in the years since Kajouji's death teachers have started checking up on students when they begin showing signs of mental stress.
"I think there's a little more focus on suicide prevention and it kind of woke up the staff here," said Craft.