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?