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Sharon Rina Lopatka (September 20, 1961 – October 16, 1996) was an Internet entrepreneur in Hampstead, Maryland, United States, who was killed in a case of apparent consensual homicide. Lopatka was tortured and strangled to death on October 16, 1996, by Robert Frederick Glass, a computer analyst from North Carolina. Apparently, the purpose was mutual sexual gratification. The case became the earliest widely publicized example of a consensual homicide mediated through the use of the Internet.

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Lopatka's life

The former Sharon Denburg grew up in the suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland in an Orthodox Jewish home. She was the daughter of Abraham Denburg, formerly the cantor of Beth Tfiloh Congregation. When she was 29, she married Victor Lopatka, an Ellicott City, Maryland native and a practicing Catholic, in an act she considered to be a rebellion against her Jewish upbringing[1].

Lopatka started an internet-based business from a kit she purchased from an Arizona-based company. This enabled her to profit from the use of 1-900-numbers to give psychic readings[2].

The killing

Using the Internet, where she also advertised pornography related to unusual sexual fetishes, Lopatka searched for a man who would torture and kill her. After contacting several people who turned out not to be serious, she finally found someone willing to fulfill her request. Glass and Lopatka exchanged many e-mails until they met in North Carolina, where Glass strangled Lopatka using a nylon cord after torturing her for several days.

On January 27, 2000, Glass pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, as well as six counts of second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor. The latter charges resulted from child pornography found on his computer. He was sentenced to 36 to 53 months in prison for manslaughter and 21 to 26 months for possession of child pornography. On February 20, 2002, two weeks before his release, Glass had a fatal heart attack.

The case shows some similarities to the Internet-mediated cannibalistic killing of Bernd Jürgen Armando Brandes by Armin Meiwes in March 2001 in Germany.

The case inspired a 2008 film,Downloading Nancy, [1] which premiered at Sundance Film Festival and had a wider release in 2009. Interviews with screenwriter Lee Ross indicate he was aware of the Lopatka case and found it 'dark, horrible... and intriguing.' [2]

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