A mother has spoken of her anguish following the death of her son at the hands of a predatory paedophile – just months after police refused to respond for her pleas to intervene.
14 year old Breck LaFave was groomed by his murderer online before being lured to his horrific death, but despite obvious signs that something was amiss police were unwilling to get involved.
It’s a mother’s worst nightmare: Breck was a normal, happy go lucky teenager who did well at school and was well liked. In the evenings, at home on his computer he was had fun chatting online with school-friends in a gaming forum, where he was befriended by an older, more glamourous kid.
But his newfound friend, a person he looked up to and trusted, would go on to sexually and physically abuse him for hours at a flat in Essex, before stabbing him in the neck. His murderer took photos of his bloody and battered body after his death, posting them online.
His mother, Lorin, is struggling to come to terms with his loss. “I keep thinking if only we hadn’t moved to England, if only I hadn’t sent him to that school, if only he hadn’t loved computers. It never stops,” she said in an interview with the Times.
She did everything right. When Breck was online she made sure his door was open, and even took the time to read the forum messages.
“[At first] it all seemed very innocent,” she said. “He was gaming with children I knew after he’d done his homework and chores.
“Gradually I noticed a voice that was more in charge, more mature, chatting with them. Breck showed me the boy’s picture. He had a pinky, red bowtie as his avatar. Breck said he couldn’t be photographed because he was working for the US government.
“Soon he told me other things: the boy was called Lewis Daynes, he had made $2 million selling bitcoins and given it to the Syrian rebels, he had been on Airforce 1, all ridiculous.
“The younger ones believed it. The older ones said they guessed he might be a paedophile but they didn’t know that Breck was being taken into a private chatroom at the end.”
Soon Mrs LaFave noticed a difference in Breck. He started to talk back to her, developing an attitude. Although the parents of other children in the online group sought to put her mind at ease, she remained concerned and contacted Surrey Police.
“I talked on the phone and explained everything that I was worried about. But it didn’t feel like the person on the phone was getting what I was saying. I wanted to scream this boy-man has infiltrated my son’s life. I mentioned grooming five or six times, either for sex, something anti-government or hacking.
“I begged this young girl on the line to check on my son’s new friend. I gave her his name, Lewis Daynes, and even where he lived.”
“I was told three times that police intelligence would be checked. I hung up the phone eventually and felt quite confident that if his name was in the police computer, I would be alerted.
They ignored her requests. If they had bothered to look, they would have discovered that 19 year old Daynes had been accused of raping a 15 year old boy three years earlier.
Months later, on Lorin’s birthday, Breck failed to turn up to babysit his younger siblings. She phoned round his friends if they knew where he was but no-one could tell her anything. “It all happened really quickly. My ex-husband rang to say, ‘Breck’s been murdered.’ Evidently I couldn’t stop screaming, they had to sedate me. I’ve damaged my ear badly.”
She is distraught that the police still haven’t apologised for ignoring her pleas, although the girl who took her call has left. “But that’s like asking the waitress who gave you the food that poisoned you to go. What about the chef and the owner?
“There is nothing worse than losing your child, in such horrific circumstances, when you tried to prevent it but were let down by the police.”
Follow Donna Rachel Edmunds on Twitter: Follow @Donna_R_E or e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Correction: the original version of this article stated that Mrs LaFave had contacted Essex Police. In fact, she contacted Surrey Police. The article has now been amended to correct that.