August 1996 Events

Date

Incident

Wednesday, August 14, 1996 On August 14 another post was made to atl.general from a CDC machine in response to one of my own posts. The return address, ufgator@interramp.com, was one Hillyard frequently used in posts to other newsgroups. Another MindSpring user posted about the "return of Hillyard." Hillyard went off on another canceling spree--the person had to repost his message six times before it "stuck." This time most of the forged cancellations came from an interramp.com account, but some were from the CDC. Of course, people started ridiculing Hillyard for his asinine habits. One noted that Hillyard had a "shiny, NEW Interramp account." Someone (and I've never learned who) posted a message with the subject line "PEDOPHILE SODOMITES; Hillyard & Company on the next Geraldo." I posted asking that anyone with a copy of the original message send it to me, as it was cancelled it before I saw it. I forwarded the copy of Hillyard's message to Jim Seligman at the CDC, as he had requested.
Friday, August 16, 1996, 3:20am On August 16 at 3:20am I received email from cyn's_nightmare@fatbitch.com (Fat Slut Hater) with the following threat: "Hi you Fat Bitch. I'm not Hillyard, I'm worse. In fact, I'm your worse nightmare. I know where you live you ugly fat slut. I followed you home from Mailboxes etc. Now we will have some fun bitch. Let's get it on!" The email was sent through interramp.com. It quoted the post I'd made asking if anyone could send me a copy of the original "PEDOPHILE SODOMITES; Hillyard & Company on the next Geraldo." post.
Friday, August 16, 1996, 3:30am I called the Dekalb County Police again and reported that I was receiving threats from someone via the internet. I insisted that they send someone out to take a report. After much resistance they finally sent an officer out to my home. The officer read the email and said that if the same words had been sent via U.S. mail or otherwise delivered in physical form, there would be no question of considering them a terroristic threat. He didn't know what to do with it, though, since it came via the internet.
Friday, August 16, 3:54am I called the only Interramp number that was staffed at the time, their tech support line, and spoke to supervisor Jeff Kaufman. He had me forward a copy of the threat to him via email, and said that Interramp would act immediately to at least close the user's account.
Friday, August 16, 4:04am Another MindSpring user received threatening email from the same interamp.com user. In that email the sender stated that he had posted sex-related ads in the recipient's name all over the internet.
Friday, August 16 Since the threat was apparently inspired by a post to atl.general, I posted a copy of it there at 7:26am. It was quickly forge-cancelled by an interramp.com user. I reposted it at 8:09am, noting the cancellation. There was another forged cancellation, so I posted it again--this happened at least three times before an interramp.com user forged an insulting response in my own name, but directed at me. He altered my sig line from "Finger for disclaimers & such" to "Finger up my ass for disclaimers & such" and added "I've got a header for you to check. Down here baby!" to a post he forged with my name and the address "cyn@juno.com." More forgeries followed. The not-terribly-anonymous interramp.com user managed to turn atl.general into a circus with forged posts, reposts, and cancellations.

Some time Friday morning Hillyard sent email to Mike McQuary (MindSpring's CEO) complaining about my posts and threatening to sue MindSpring. Hillyard made much of his supposed community involvement and said that he was getting email from people mentioning me and strange phone calls that couldn't be traced, implying that I was responsible for sending those emails and making those phone calls. He insisted that MindSpring cancel my account. As Hillyard had no evidence that I had ever harassed him, and MindSpring had evidence that he had, in fact, been harassing me, my account was not cancelled. McQuary offered to moderate a meeting between me and Hillyard, and I agreed conditionally, saying that I'd first have to speak with the police and a lawyer to be sure I should do that. I don't know if he made the same offer to Hillyard, but the meeting never happened.

Friday, August 16, 1996 Coworkers at the CDC noted that Hillyard was accessing "inappropriate" (sex-related) areas of the internet on his work terminal. Records from the packet sniffer showed a high high volume of traffic being sent from Hillyard's computer to the internet, and that the word "sex" and one of my email addresses, technomom@mindspring.com, appeared repeatedly in that traffic. Computer logs verified that Hillyard was logged in to that workstation at that time, backing up the account of eyewitness. This information comes from testimony given by Jim Seligman of the CDC at Hillyard's trial in July 1997. His testimony and other information were admitted into the record as evidence and accepted by all parties, including Hillyard's lawyer.
Friday, August 16, 1996, 12:30 to 1:00pm Posts were sent from interamp.com's news servers to almost every newsgroup in their newsfeed that had "sex" in its name. The posts were forged with my email address, technomom@mindspring.com, to look as though I had posted them. Again, as in some of the posts forged in atl.general, my sig line was changed from "Finger for disclaimers &such" to "Finger up my ass for disclaimers &such." They included pornographic pictures that had been doctored to add my email address, and had subject lines of "Hot Fat Sex in Atlanta!" and "Hey Big Boys! I need you in Atlanta!" (Sorry folks, I draw the line at putting pornographic pictures on my web site--providing copies of Hillyard's disgustingly foul text is unpleasant enough.) They were also posted to alt.support.big-folks, a group in which I participated regularly--including one message that was only posted there, and ended with the words "Long Live the Duck." (he got nervous and cancelled that one very quickly). I was immediately deluged with more email from men looking for a sexual partner. I set up the autoresponder again with a new email explaining the situation. I later learned that similar messages and pictures to most of the same newsgroups were also forged in the name of that other person to whom the interamp.com user sent threatening email.

There was an fairly unique identifying factor in sex-wanted posts forged in both names. The X-NoArchive=yes line appeared twice in each message--as it did in some of Hillyard's other posts to rec.sports.football.college and to atl.general (made through interamp.com, inetnow.net, and the CDC). I've never seen that in any other post from any other user. The X-NoArchive line is an optional addition to the headers of a newsgroup post, intended to keep the post out of archives such as DejaNews. It should appear once or not at all--there is no logical reason for it to appear twice.

As I was certain that Hillyard had posted the sex-wanted ads and sent the threatening email, I did some research and found many other posts Hillyard had been making to other newsgroups using the CDC's systems in July and August. Per his request, I sent those posts and information about the threats and sex-wanted posts to Jim Seligman at the CDC.

Wednesday, August 21, 1996 The Dekalb County police finally assigned the case to a Detective Wynne, and I was able to meet with her for the first time. She was the first official who took the matter seriously at all. I took printouts of all the relevant messages and explained what all the gibberish in the headers of the newsgroup posts and emails meant.
Friday, August 23, 1996 A Dekalb County judge issued a warrant for Hillyard's arrest for "simple assault." Under Georgia law, any act that causes a person to believe themselves in immediate danger of physical harm is simple assault. The email did give me cause to believe that my child and I were in immediate danger of Hillyard attacking us in or near our home (in fact, I moved within a month of receiving that email). The charge was later changed to stalking. Part of the condition of bail was that Hillyard sign a stay away order (similar to a restraining order) agreeing that he would have absolutely no contact with me, including contact via the internet. I believe the judge was willing to issue the warrant largely because of Hillyard's prior criminal convictions, which indicated that he was more dangerous than your average twit responding to a flame in a newsgroup. I learned that the warrant would have to actually be served by officers in Gwinnett County, where Hillyard lived.
Friday, August 30, 1996 Orkand/the CDC fired Hillyard. The stated reason for firing him was that he had lied on his job application, deliberately concealing the fact that he had a long record of past felony convictions: for burglary and kidnapping (in Florida) and theft by taking, theft by receiving stolen property, filing a false police report, and credit card fraud (in Georgia). The theft charges resulted from a complaint filed by another former employer, SummaGraphics, who fired him over the matter. The credit card fraud was committed using a stolen credit card number to open a CompuServe account and order merchandise from various merchants in their online mall.
August 1996 Now that I knew Hillyard had a criminal record, I was even more concerned for the physical safety of myself and my daughter. I started learning to use a pistol and applied for a concealed carry permit (which I got, though it took several months).

  *I do not provide direct links to newsgroups in the mindspring.* hierarchy, as they are only accessible to MindSpring's customers. In fact, neither of these groups exists now, as MindSpring has reorganized all the groups in its hierarchy.

 

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Last updated 12/3/97