Did MMOs cause John Darwin to fake his own death?

And the answer to the title question is “No. Probably not”. But MMOs have been drawn into the elaborate web of not very good lies that are the adventures of John Darwin. If you’re not familiar with the John Darwin saga, it is truly a gift that keeps giving. It is a sad example of what happens when two rather stupid people start thinking that they’re a great deal cleverer than they actually are.

Last year I posted about the bizarre way in which he was caught.

Now it has been revealed, for reasons I’m not entirely certain of, that Mr John Darwin was torn from his wife by an MMO! Maybe they’re trying to take their revenge out upon the Google and its internet friends for its role in bringing them to justice. The BBC reports from Anne Darwin’s trial:

Mrs Darwin said her husband turned secretive when he joined an internet role-playing game.

She said: “It was like a virtual world which was played over the internet.

“The people who played it became characters in this world and they had money to buy and sell things and they used to cast spells on each other.

“He became rather cagey when using the headphones and speaking into the computer if I came into the room. It was obvious he was in conversation.”

Mr Darwin later flew out to Kansas in the US to meet a woman, who his wife believes he met while playing the game.

I know I’d totally love to play a game in which “The people who played it became characters in this world and they had money to buy and sell things and they used to cast spells on each other. ” She makes it sound kind of like Tron, but with MAGIC, thus making it extra-awesome.

While he had headphones, there is no mention of him having a microphone. Given that Teamspeak and Vent are a bit confusing to set up properly even for non-idiots, it is possible he was just playing Baldur’s Gate 2, and had a crush on Jaheira. (Hands off, Darwin. She’s mine.)

It’s unclear from the BBC report whether this took place before he faked his own death, or during the period where he was supposed to be dead, but in fact was living next-door to his wife, visiting her via a secret passage, disguised by a false beard. Not knowing when it happened makes it hard to figure out what game they’re talking about. Either WoW or one of the Everquests, I’d guess.

I’ll update when we know more!!!

Update: It seems that Mr Darwin’s online adventures took place after he faked his death in 2002. The trip to Kansas was to visit a lady he met in the game by the name of Kelly Steele. Far from being a femme fatale as I had initially suspected, it seems that she was in fact just one more victim of his bizarre schemes:

Having made contact with Kelly Steele, a mother of three from Kansas, while playing an online role-playing game, Darwin persuaded her to buy a 20-acre ranch in her name using £25,000 he sent her.

He told Mrs Steele, 41, his wife had died of cancer, he had made a fortune on the stock market and had always wanted to be a cowboy.

When he flew to Kansas to see the property he asked Mrs Steele if she knew “some single girls in Kansas who want a rich husband”.

He later demanded his money back and sent Mrs Steele threatening emails which left her in fear of her life. “He is the creepiest, oddest and most frightening man I have ever met,” she said later.

He travelled to Kansas in 2004, probably ruling out World of Warcraft and Everquest 2 , which were both released in the final two months of that year, which makes Everquest the most likely culprit. Dark Ages of Camelot, and Ultima Online are also possibles. I don’t see him as the type to be playing anything more off the beaten track than those three. I could be wrong, of course!

Update:

According to local Kansas media it was Everquest. John Darwin played a druid. Bet he wishes he could SOW in real life too.

It turns out the MMO connection was in fact revealed back in December 2007 in the News of the World. I’m surprised it didn’t get mentioned on any of the MMO sites I read, though I applaud all of us for having no idea what the News of the World says about anything.

Update: The Evening Standard is claiming the game Darwin was playing was Asheron’s Call. There are no druids in Asheron’s Call, so I suspect it is talking nonsense.

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