CBC News: the fifth estate | Nominated for 8 Gemini Awards including BEST NEWS INFORMATION SERIES
DEATH ONLINE  |  Broadcast premiere: October 9, 2009 at 9 p.m. on CBC-TV
Bookmark and Share
Download Flash Player to view this content.
Death Online Synopsis
Her name is Nadia Kajouji: eighteen years old, pretty, self-confident, an ambitious student with her sights set on a career in law and politics. Her world seems bright, and her future limitless as she begins her first year at Ottawa’s Carleton University in the fall of 2007.

But, as the fifth estate reports in Death Online, Nadia’s world is about to change, in a tragic way, and what happens to her will lead to an international search for an Internet predator.

Nadia’s world began to fall apart soon after her arrival at Carleton University. In never-before-seen personal video diaries, Nadia records her descent into suicidal depression. The university assigns her a counselor, a doctor prescribes anti-depressants, but Nadia’s parents are never told about their daughter’s desperate mental state. Nor does anyone know of Nadia’s secret online friend, identified only as Cami D, who is pushing the fragile girl towards suicide. On March 9, 2008, Nadia jumped into the Rideau River. Her body would not be found for six weeks.

Far away from Nadia’s despair, in the English countryside, Celia Blay stumbles upon a cyber-world of websites, chat rooms and newsgroups all dedicated to suicide. More chilling, she discovers that one person, in particular, is encouraging severely depressed people to commit suicide. The retired schoolteacher turns amateur sleuth and tracks down the identity of this predator. She identifies him as William Melchert-Dinkel, a middle-aged nurse and father of two living in Faribault, Minnesota. Melchert-Dinkel has several online pseudonyms. One of them is Nadia Kajouji’s friend, Cami D.

The fifth estate’s Bob McKeown tells the story of Celia’s shocking discovery and her attempts to get police, first in England, then in the United States, to investigate William Melchert-Dinkel. When they finally do pick up the case, it is too late to save Nadia.

In Death Online, the fifth estate talks to Nadia’s parents and friends, to the amateur sleuth Celia Blay, and McKeown confronts William Melchert-Dinkel himself, asking him: why?

Death Online Credits
producer/director: OLEH J. RUMAK
producer: RACHEL HOULIHAN
written by: BOB McKEOWN
editor: DOMINIQUE BANOUN
cinematography: DOUG HUSBY, BRIAN KELLY, JOHN BADCOCK, SAT NANDLALL, PAUL SEELER, RICHARD FURLONG
audio: JOE PASSARETTI, KARNDEEP JASSAL, LARRY KENT
graphic designers: TIM KINDRACHUK, AMEDEO DE PALMA
audio mix: DON DICKSON
colourist: PETER JORGENSEN
archival material: CBC OTTAWA, /A\ OTTAWA CTVGLOBEMEDIA, JEFFREY THOMPSON PHOTOGRAPHY
special thanks: SARAH WHITE, CAROLINE GILLIS, LINDA GREARSON
website producer: ROBERT BALLANTYNE
executive producer: SALLY REARDON
 
About Bob McKeown
Bob McKeown has a record few Canadian journalists can match – two Emmys, three Geminis and a Grey Cup, won in 1973 when he was an all-star center with the Ottawa Rough Riders. McKeown returned to CBC Television in November 2002 after a distinguished career in the U.S.… Read more
Recent fifth estate documentaries
Death OnlineDEATH ONLINE: A young Ottawa woman's suicide leads to an international hunt for an online predator. View the web feature
The Education of Brian NichollTHE EDUCATION OF BRIAN NICHOLL: Learning lessons about the economic downturn, the hard way. View the web feature
Riding on RiskRIDING ON RISK: Disturbing allegations about our safety in the air. How well is our government protecting our safety and security? View the web feature
The Elephant in the RoomTHE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: Looking for answers, but to which questions? View the web feature
Staying AliveSTAYING ALIVE: It's been called a "community centre for junkies." Shut it down or keep it going? View the web feature
Top GunTOP GUN: When a video gaming obsession turns to addiction and tragedy. View the web feature
The CodeTHE CODE: Hockey's unwritten law of fighting and the men who live by it. View the web feature
PowerlessBLACK WIDOW: She preyed on the lonely, then married and buried them. View the web feature