The “David Mabus” story

Most of you know about the threatening emails that Canadian Dennis Markuze, aka “Dave Mabus” sent to many atheists and scientists. I myself received hundreds of them, including death threats. When I asked others how to report them, I learned that Markuze had already been reported to the Montreal police, who apparently weren’t interested in messing with him so long as he sat in his mother’s basement and didn’t actually hurt anyone.

That, of course, has changed.  Carl Zimmer, P. Z. Myers, and others made serious complaints, there was a petition signed to the police, and, finally, the police themselves lured Markuze into attacking their own Twitter account.  Ars Technica has the whole gory tale of his capture and arrest.

And, as far as anyone could tell, the complaints went nowhere. The local authorities weren’t interested in acting, and most of Mabus’ targets didn’t even live in Canada. That eventually changed, in part due to Mabus’ lack of discretion when it came to choosing his targets. One of Zimmer’s tweets apparently caught the attention of William Raillant-Clark, who handles press for the University of Montreal. Calling the inaction “unacceptable,” Ralliant-Clark began investigating the story and placed his results on Tumblr; he also included the Montreal Police’s press account on Twitter in some of the conversation.

Here’s where Mabus’ thoroughness backfired. Noticing the Twitter conversation between Ralliant-Clark and his former victims, he added the journalist to his target list. And, since the Montreal police’s Twitter account was also mentioned, it got a copy too. Mabus actually started sending diatribes to the local police force.

He’s a sick man, and I hope he gets the help he needs. But really, the Montreal Police should have taken action long before this. How many death threats does it take before someone gets investigated? Or do they have to wait until those threats are actually carried out?

Markuze, photographed at an atheist meeting in Montreal

26 Comments

  1. Posted August 19, 2011 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    He’s a sick man, and I hope he gets the help he needs.

    Amen.

    Imagine if he had devoted as much energy to, say, astronomic observations as he did to harassing people. At the very least, he’d have a few comets named after him….

    Cheers,

    b&

  2. Jim Jones
    Posted August 19, 2011 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    “But really, the Montreal Police should have taken action long before this.”

    Search for (montreal cops accused of)!

    • Screechy Monkey
      Posted August 19, 2011 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      Really depressing considering that Montreal has experienced two homicidal gun-wielding rampagers in the last 22 years.

      I doubt Marc Lepine (perpetrator of the 1989 Montreal Massacre, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_L%C3%A9pine) was posting anything online in those days, but Kimveer Gill http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kimveer_Gill did.

      I’m not saying the police could have prevented those incidents, just that Montreal police should be particularly sensitive to these dangers and not just write them off as harmless nuts.

      • articulett
        Posted August 19, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

        I suspect that if the threat was from an atheist directed at religious folks rather than from a believer directed towards atheists, the threats would have been taken more seriously and the perpetrator arrested much sooner.

  3. Anthony
    Posted August 19, 2011 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    All I can say is, it’s about time. Although it’s been awhile, I had also received many emails from him. I responded to him once trying to reason with him and his only reply back to me was “You’re dead.” Nice.

    • Posted August 19, 2011 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      A very close friend died suddenly this past December, and Markuze continued to indiscriminately span posts that were just simply me talking about my grief, nothing to do with atheism in the slightest. I wrote a post titled Really, Markuze?, in which I highlighted this behavior. He continued to spam that one two, although the second time he hit that post, appearing just above the normal copy-and-paste ranting and threats was:

      “i don’t read you shit, sorry…”

  4. Posted August 19, 2011 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    The next Robert Pickton.

  5. Posted August 19, 2011 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    I thought I knew all there was to know about Markuze (my blog was one of his many many targets) and I figured he was probably annoying but mostly harmless. In reading Tim Farley’s account, however, I get a bit of a shock:

    He would spend hours at it. For example, on February 25th I found 25 separate accounts he used. Based on the timestamps of the posts, he started around 7:30am, and posted more or less continuously until about 10am. He continued somewhat more slowly until noon, when I presume he took a break for lunch. He resumed at 3pm, and posted until 9pm that night.

    Holy crap, I didn’t realize he was spending 8+ hours a day just copy-and-pasting!!! Now that’s kinda scary… :/

  6. mordacious1
    Posted August 19, 2011 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Anti-psychotic medications are reported to be cheaper in Canada. This is good for Markuze, because apparently he is going to need them in large quantities.

    • articulett
      Posted August 19, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

      Additionally, I hope they can keep him away from the internet… and weapons.

  7. Posted August 19, 2011 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Just a small correction–I never filed a complaint. I turned up in these stories because I replied to one of PZ Myers’s tweets about blocking Mabus’s zillions of twitter accounts. (Which is what I did, too.) And that tweet of mine brought Mabus to Ralliant-Clark’s attention.

  8. Grania
    Posted August 19, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    I can’t understand the reluctance of state institutions to take care of people like this. It is not as if this guy was unknown to the police, and it is certainly not as if they are not aware that he has been mentally ill for some time. It is bizarre that he was not referred to a state psychiatrist years ago.

    We have a similar case in Ireland (he thinks he is Jesus Christ returned at times, other times just a “High Priest”), the only difference being that he hasn’t thought about going international like Mabus did. His campaign is purely against Ireland, specifically its politicians, its atheists and even the police.

    In spite of multiple death threats issued against public figures the police haven’t done very much other than question him from time to time. In view of the fact that Ireland is a country with a public health care service, it makes no sense at all that a man who is clearly living in constant torment due to a serious mental illness has not been referred to professionals that can help him.

    • Diane G.
      Posted August 21, 2011 at 12:14 am | Permalink

      There are state psychiatrists?

      • Ichthyic
        Posted August 21, 2011 at 12:55 am | Permalink

        I’m curious as to why would that be puzzling?

        there are State and Federal institutes of mental health in the US too.

        a lot of health care providers are partially paid for by state and federal contributions, and in countries with socialized medicine, “state psychiatrist” would be the norm, not the exception.

        Don’t know what it’s like in Ireland, but you could technically call any psychiatrist working out of a public hospital here in NZ a “state” psychiatrist.

  9. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted August 19, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    I Prophesied This. (No, I didn’t. Glad one of the old “t(h)reats” of the net is going down.)

  10. Sigmund
    Posted August 19, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Now he’s arrested we can finally enjoy the silence.

  11. Gayle Stone
    Posted August 19, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    What can the police do?, Ater all,it’s Mabus’ religion! Sick, Sick, Sick.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted August 19, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      his documented death threats actually break several Canadian laws, let alone violate a couple of international ones, since he threatened people outside Canada too.

      the cops could have legitimately arrested him years ago.

      Canada does not allow religious exemption for death threats.

  12. twotif
    Posted August 19, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    This is the first I’ve heard about this guy. This whole story is very fascinating I’m just curious as to how religion and Nostradamus got intertwined in his mind. Seem like strange bedfellows.

    • Notagod
      Posted August 20, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      I’ve listened to many christians that believe in the Nostradamus junk and the end of the Mayan calender as well.

      Woo-woo is to woo as woo is to woo-woo.

  13. early_cuyler
    Posted August 19, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    It’s official. Charges have been brought and he is in for 30 day Psych eval.

    http://www.globalmontreal.com/montreals+mabus+faces+16+charges+for+online+threats/6442466983/story.html

    • Ichthyic
      Posted August 19, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      Harrumble!

      ’bout friggen time.

  14. Dawn Oz
    Posted August 20, 2011 at 12:17 am | Permalink

    Thanks for being a front line warrior….

  15. Chris Granger
    Posted August 20, 2011 at 2:09 am | Permalink

    While it boggles my mind that it has taken this long for Montreal police to act, at least they did act before he escalated to actual violence. This man needs serious help.

    If he has a caregiver or a guardian, shame on them for enabling this disturbing behavior for so long. He should have been in some kind of therapy years ago.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted August 20, 2011 at 2:37 am | Permalink

      His mom is on record as saying she saw nothing wrong with his behavior… at all.

      which is probably the most shocking part of the whole story.

      she must be in need of a serious checkup too.

  16. Kieran
    Posted August 20, 2011 at 2:33 am | Permalink

    He still owes me a cheese cake recipe! Whenever he spammed a facebook page I always asked for it.
    Seriously with his escalation in both post number and turning up at events it was time to act.


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