• Thu. Mar 23rd, 2023


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A Woman’s Fatal Stabbing Was Streamed on Instagram, Police Say

A Louisiana man who appeared to have been on a days-long drug binge with a woman killed her inside a car on Monday in an attack that he streamed online, showing himself stabbing, choking and torturing her, according to the authorities.

The livestreaming led to the man, Earl Lee Johnson Jr., 35, being charged with murder in the killing of Janice David, 34, who was found in the vehicle on Monday night with her hands bound and body bloodied from more than 10 stab wounds, Sgt. L’Jean McKneely, a spokesman for the Baton Rouge Police Department, said by phone.

“It’s a very gruesome, very evil act,” he said at a news conference on Tuesday.

The video stream was posted on Instagram, which is owned by Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, according to Stephanie Otway, a spokeswoman for the company. The Baton Rouge Police Department had said earlier on Tuesday that the video had been streamed on Facebook Live, which is run by Meta.

Sergeant McKneely said by phone that Mr. Johnson did not have a lawyer as of Tuesday afternoon, and he could not be reached for comment.

The Baton Rouge Police Department said it learned of the attack hours after officers had already arrested Mr. Johnson on Monday afternoon in connection with an unrelated theft of a vehicle.

The Louisiana State Police was notified on Monday by Meta of an Instagram video that showed Mr. Johnson attacking Ms. David, the police said. Meta had learned of the violent video from a user who notified the company.

State troopers later found the car where the recorded attack appeared to have occurred, Sergeant McKneely said.

They then told the Baton Rouge police of their findings. Sergeant McKneely said that when Mr. Johnson was asked about the attack while in police custody, he admitted to “killing someone.”

The attack took place in the front seats of a vehicle that was parked in the parking lot of an office building, Sergeant McKneely said. Mr. Johnson put his phone on the dashboard and recorded himself beating Ms. David, all while appearing to “talk to people watching online, making mention about what he was doing,” he said.

Sergeant McKneely said that Mr. Johnson also tried to set the car on fire while Ms. David’s body remained inside.

The authorities said they believe Mr. Johnson and Ms. David had been on at least a three- or four-day drug binge together. Sergeant McKneely said that they had used heroin and methamphetamine.

“He looked like he was under the influence of something,” Sergeant McKneely said.

The authorities are still investigating how they knew each other, he added.

Ms. David’s family was “in shock” after detectives informed them of her killing, Sergeant McKneely said.

It was unclear how long it had taken Meta to take down the video after it was posted and notify the authorities. Ms. Otway said in a statement that Meta had “removed the video from our platform, disabled the account that posted it and will be supporting law enforcement in their investigation.”

She added that Meta seeks to “interrupt these streams as quickly as possible when they’re reported to us.”

People can report violations during a live broadcast,” she said. “They don’t have to wait until the live broadcast is over.”

Meta has had to contend in recent years with live video on its platform that has shown shootings and other violent acts as the company continues to grapple with its role in policing content.

In 2017, three men in Sweden were arrested on suspicion of raping a woman and streaming the assault live to a private Facebook group. In February that year, two radio journalists in the Dominican Republic were fatally shot during a Facebook Live broadcast as they read the news at an FM radio station.

In the Louisiana case, Sergeant McKneely said, the live video helped the authorities make an arrest.

“I’ve seen stuff like that happen across the country,” he said. “But in this particular area, it’s the first time something like this has happened.”