(September 27, 1935- ) was the first-known person in the world
convicted of an Internet-related murder.
been working as a children's guidance counselor at Monterey High
School in California for almost thirty years when he murdered
his wife of twenty-eight years, Lila Pritchert, 52, on the night
of November 7, 1995 at their Pebble Beach home.
wife had become involved with a new group of friends in an
online chat room, an activity that began to take up more and
more of her time. When Pritchert confronted her about the amount
of time she had been spending chatting online, she informed him
that she wanted a divorce.
This led to an
intense argument, at the climax of which Pritchert took a pillow
and pushed it down onto his wife's face for at least four
minutes, the amount of time required to smother a human being to
death with a pillow. Lila Pritchert never recovered.
Pritchert was arrested and confessed to the murder, explaining
that he had become upset at the amount of time his wife had been
On March 14,
1996, he was sentenced in a Monterey, California courtroom to
eleven years imprisonment at the California Men's Colony in San
Luis Obispo, California. Pritchert will be eligible for release
in 2007, when he will be 72 years old. To this day, his crime
constitutes the first known instance of a murder arising from
activity on the Internet.
In the years
since Pritchert's conviction, his case has become a focus of the
Church of Scientology, which has attempted to use him as an
example in its campaign against psychologists and psychiatrists,
arguing that severe crimes have been committed by practitioners
from these fields. Pritchert, however, was neither a
psychologist nor a psychiatrist, but a high-school academic