Did Facebook Help Fuel a Fatal Stabbing?

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    By all accounts, Kayla Henriques, 18, and Kamisha Richards, 22, were tight. So tight, that Richards threw a baby shower for her friend and was planning a first birthday party for Henriques’ son, Alex.

    But the young New York City women had a falling out over $20 less than a week ago, when Henriques asked her friend for the money to buy Pampers but used the money for other items.

    Over the week, the feud moved to the Internet, where the women traded insults on Facebook through the weekend.

    Then it all went tragically wrong. On Monday, Henriques confessed to stabbing Richards at Richards’ home in East New York. Police found a kitchen knife at the crime scene and followed a trail of blood to Henriques’ nearby home and arrested the young woman, said sources.

    Henriques claimed she killed her friend in self-defense. She has been charged with second-degree murder.

    Richards, a graduate of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, was awaiting her scores on the law school admittance test and hoped to start law school this fall.

    This is hardly the first case of a friendship fight ending in a death, but what seems to set this story apart from others is the role that social media played in fanning the flames of anger between the two participants.

    The distance that is part of Internet communication allowed this fight to rage like a wildfire blowing out of control. The back-and-forth messages, which seemed to grow in intensity with each exchange, are easy to send when pecking away at a keyboard.

    Would those angry messages have been as easy to exchange face-to-face?

    Not likely.

    Now all that anyone can do is hold a vigil for the slain woman, as her neighbors did Thursday by sending dozens of white balloons into the night sky outside her apartment.

    No one can reasonably blame Facebook for causing the death, and no one could have predicted the fight would have escalated to the point of murder.

    But it’s becoming increasingly clear that a lonely room and computer access embolden people to act in ways they would never consider, if they had to look into the eyes of their target.

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