Live-on-TV suicide follows paedophile sting
WHEN a gaggle of police officers and an NBC TV crew pulled up at the home of Louis Conradt in the town of Murphy, the neighbours must have thought it was for a traditional Texas barbecue.
They had come to the home of the locally famous county prosecutor, a veteran of countless arrests and stakeouts against Texas criminals.
But what happened next was to shake the wealthy community to its core and raise serious questions about the antics of the broadcast news media which has turned criminal investigations of paedophiles into a reality TV show watched by millions.
In this case the veteran prosecutor was the target of a sting by the police, an online watchdog group Perverted Justice and NBC's top-rated show 'Dateline: To Catch a Predator.' Working hand in glove with police forces around the country the programme targets paedophiles who cruise the internet trying to solicit sex from minors.
For the show in Murphy, near Dallas, NBC rented a house in a well-to-do area and installed hidden cameras throughout. To lure suspects to the honeytrap, they brought in professional actors to impersonate underage teenagers.
Unlike the other suspects in the show, Mr Conradt never made it to the rented Dateline house, but he did use the online moniker 'inxs00' in an internet chat room to talk dirty with an actor posing as 'a thirteen-year-old boy'. This, Mr Conradt would have known is a criminal act in Texas. With the cameras rolling Mr Conradt refused to answer the door or answer his home or mobile phones. The police then smashed their way in to find the prosecutor standing in the hall with a semi-automatic pistol in his hand.
He shot himself in the head. NBC and Chris Hansen who is the star of the show are unapologetic about the prosecutor's live-on-TV death.
It has since emerged that the case was so badly botched that it would have been thrown out of court. The search warrant had the wrong date and listed the wrong county.
There is also the mystery of why the police forced their way in when they could have arrested him at work the next day.
The prosecutor's sister, Patricia, says Dateline effectively killed her brother.
"[His suicide] was an act precipitated by the rush to grab headlines where there was no evidence that there was any emergency other than to line the pockets of an out-of-control group and a TV show pressed for ratings and a deadline."
- Leonard Doyle
I'm not mad to see this guy dead, but I think there is something seriously wrong with this show. Talk about sensationalist TV, it is like nothing will stop them at trying to get their ratings. Some of the tactics the "Perverted-Justice" group uses toes the line of entraptment so closely it is not funny.