It is no surprise to most of us that the internet can be an incredibly dangerous place, but for children, that is often something that must be learned. In a world where we all have friends online who we have never met in person, it is easy to understand the wonder of online communication. Still, most of us understand that it is not something to be played with. There are very real dangers online, and many of them wear a smiling face. Breck Bednar, a fourteen-year-old boy, learned this the hard way and paid the ultimate price.
Toxicity In Online Gaming
Breck’s parents knew him to be a lovable and sweet child who treated everyone with great respect. He was always partial to online gaming and spent a great deal of time playing video games with his friends online. At first, his parents didn’t think anything of it, but then Breck began to change. Their once sweet boy was beginning to talk back, act with more aggression, and had started refusing to go to church. It didn’t take long for his parents to find the culprit in his online friend group.
According to his parents, Breck was a part of a unique online gaming group with five other boys. In this group, one boy, a leader called Lewis Daynes, was anything but a good influence. By now, it is no secret that many online gaming communities are filled with toxic players who are happy to say and do things that most of us would find horrific. In the gaming world, yelling, saying hurtful comments, and being mad are just considered normal. However, Breck had played games before and been just fine. What changed was the presence of Lewis Daynes.
Lewis Daynes was known to talk big and say a great many terrible things. He acted as the group’s leader and constantly made grand claims to support his own image of importance. To an adult, Daynes’ claims of working with foreign governments and being a rich genius would be obvious lies. To the children that he played with, it made him the coolest guy around.
Breck’s parents knew that Lewis Daynes was a bad egg and they wanted him away from their son. This is what led them to take proactive steps to block the guy from their household. They put limitations on the technology, grounded Breck, and forbade him to interact with Daynes anymore. Unfortunately, Breck did what kids are known to do and found his way around his parents’ unfair rules.
After time spent playing online, Daynes invited Breck over. Breck was fed up with his parents and excited to spend some time playing games with his friend. He ran off to Daynes’ home, certain that he would be back before it was time for him to go visit his father. When Breck never showed up, his parents began to look for him.
When a person is killed, their identity is almost always kept private until the family of the deceased can be informed. Unfortunately, social media isn’t always as kind. Breck’s three younger siblings began to receive text messages asking about their brother’s death. At this point, the family only knew that he was missing. They had no reason t suspect that he was dead. What the family believed was a sick joke ended up being the truth. Breck was dead.
So, how did friends of the family find out that Breck was dead when the family had just learned that he was missing? The answer is in the photos. Like many other narcissistic killers, Daynes had taken photos of Breck and posted them online for the group to see. In the images, Breck had clearly been stabbed repeatedly in the neck. His mutilated body was sent out, and the news and images spread like wildfire among the local children.
A Tragic Death
Given the new information, police were sent to Daynes’ home immediately. Upon arrival, they found Breck, who was in his final moments of life. The stab wounds were severe and he had held on as best he could, but he died on the scene from his wounds. He had clung to life, but the fight was over.
Lewis Daynes was eighteen-years-old when he killed Breck. Many people would speculate about an adult male who spends his time playing with children, and in this case, they would be right to do so. It is unclear if Breck knew how old Daynes actually was. He was notoriously young looking and also had diagnosed conditions that his lawyers argued made him younger mentally and less capable of good decision making. Ultimately, the courts did not care. They believed that Breck was groomed by Daynes specifically for this purpose, and Daynes will spend the rest of his life in prison for his crimes.