Tulsa, OK – A couple of stereotypical Second Life players have been arrested after their 3-year-old daughter was found weighing only 13 pounds.
Mark Knapp, 48, and Elizabeth Pester, 33, are both in jail on child abuse and child neglect complaints, but before I talk about why, I’m going to tell you about their ongoing relationship with the Department of Human Services.
DHS first took custody of the couple’s daughter in 2010, weeks after she was born. They were worried about the infant having feeding issues and the fact that the couple were not spending time with the baby. She was returned to the couple on March 17, 2011, but was taken to the hospital in June 2012 after being found malnourished and weighing only 13 pounds.
Once again, the baby was returned to the couple with instructions that the baby was to be weighed weekly beginning July 19, 2012. DHS also had a therapist from Sooner Start, an organization that helps families raising infants with developmental delays, to visit the child weekly to be weighed. Turns out that the Sooner Start therapist only checked on the girl four times in the last five months, and only weighed her twice.
The therapist said that the couple were difficult to deal with, but never reported that fact to DHS. They did report Pester had asked for the visits to be moved into the afternoons because she worked as a DJ and needed her sleep in the mornings. This DJ job turned out to belong to her alter-ego, DJ Syn, in the online role-playing game Second Life.
Now I don’t know if any of you are aware of Second Life, but if you are not, Google it or search Youtube (I find the trolling videos especially hilarious). Personally, I’ve always liked the number one Second Life defintion at Urban Dictionary which states, “A game where desperate people with no lives or friends get to live out their dreams of social acceptance and sex. The vast majority of Second Life players are unattractive and socially awkward.” As a gamer myself, I hesitate to pick on the low-hanging fruit that is the Second Life player, but fuck it, it’s Second Life.
Anyway, it turns out the couple are obsessed with the game and spend all of their time playing their alter-egos. With the lives I imagine these two lead, it doesn’t surprise me at all they’d lose themselves in a fantasy in which their reality and their fantasy look like this:
People escape their real lives every day using a variety of methods; video games, books, drugs, movies, etc. The obvious problem here isn’t that they were spending their lives in an online world – live and let live, I say – it’s that they have responsibilities, including a child that needs human contact and something called food. Their baby doesn’t seem to be getting either of those things, and brings me to why the couple are now sitting in jail.
Knapp and Pester brought their daughter to the hospital on Wednesday in critical condition and still weighing only 13 pounds. She can’t walk, move and has limited vocal skills. The hospital called police, but the couple left after a couple of hours of waiting around, telling the hospital staff that they wouldn’t be able to come back until Thursday, even though they only lived a few miles away.
When police arrived at their home, they found the couple playing Second Life. Knapp reportedly asked the officers if they were there because their daughter had died. I imagine the couple were disappointed when they informed them that their daughter was not dead, and that they were there to arrested them both.
Only because I’ve never had a chance to work this into a story, here’s one of my favorite Second Life trolls in action.Tags: Child Neglect, Crime, Elizabeth Pester, Mark Knapp, Oklahoma, second life, videogame