• Sun. Feb 28th, 2021

TikTok video of murder victims is taken down


Jessica Lewis and Austin 'Cash' Wenner
Image caption Murder victims Jessica Lewis and Austin Wenner

A video showing a group of teenagers discovering the remains of two murder victims has been removed from the social media site, TikTok.

The victims’ families had repeatedly asked TikTok to remove the video, which had been viewed almost 30 million times since it was posted on the site in June.​​

​​On 20 August, the BBC published a video in which the family made another plea for the video’s removal.​​​

​​Two days later, the video was taken down. It is not yet clear whether TikTok removed it, or whether it was deleted by the teenager who posted it.​​

​​The teenager was one of three friends out making TikTok videos in June, when they found a pair of suitcases washed up on a Seattle beach.​​

​​Inside were the bodies of Jessica Lewis, 35, and Austin ‘Cash’ Wenner, 27. They had been shot and dismembered. The video was posted on TikTok, where it went viral garnering 30 million views. ​​

​​The teenagers called the police as soon as they discovered the suitcases, leading Seattle Police to open a murder investigation.​​

​​Gina Jaschke, Jessica’s aunt, made repeated requests to TikTok to remove the video. The social media platform told the BBC that the video had not been removed because it did not violate their guidelines.

The company said: “We found that the video did not violate our guidelines, as it did not include any visuals of the remains. We have been in touch with the family to explain this decision.”​​

​​Following the BBC’s video, many people contacted the company in support of the family’s request.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Twitter users asking TikTok to remove the video

​​​​The video has now been removed. The BBC has approached the account holders and TikTok for comment.

On 24 August, 62-year-old Michael Dudley from Burien, Washington State, was charged with two counts of second-degree murder. Mr Dudley has not yet entered a plea.​​