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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Internet-related murder
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: November 7, 1995
Date of birth: September 27, 1935
Victim profile: Lila Pritchert, 52 (his wife)
Method of murder: Smothering with a pillow
Location: Pebble Beach, California, USA
Status: Sentenced to eleven years imprisonment at the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo, California, on March 14, 1996

James D. Pritchert (September 27, 1935- ) was the first-known person in the world convicted of an Internet-related murder.

Pritchert had 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.

Pritchert's 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.

James Pritchert was arrested and confessed to the murder, explaining that he had become upset at the amount of time his wife had been spending online.

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 guidance counselor.


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