James DiMaggio is at large with an unrelated, kidnapped 16-year-old , after murdering her mother and (probably) her 8-year-old brother. His ex-wife says he was obsessed with Everquest, and hung around the girl’s mother as a nonsexual friend:
DiMaggio’s former wife, who was married to him for only six months, said he didn’t show any violent tendencies during that period, but instead was a “nerdy” guy who showed a keen interest in video games, in particular, the game “Everquest.”
“I would complain about the virtual reality game he would play all night. It was ridiculous. It was consuming him. It was addictive,” the ex-wife, who wished to remain anonymous, told HLN’s Nancy Grace.
“He is not a materialistic person, and he’s very resourceful,” she said.
The suspect’s ex-wife added that she did not believe there was a romantic relationship between DiMaggio and the slain woman, describing their relationship as a “brother-sister type of deal.”
So here, we have a middle-aged man who is unsuccessful both romantically and financially. He was hanging around a family as a platonic “uncle,” where no man was present. He did them frequent favors, such as driving the attractive teenage daughter to her gymnastics practices. It should have been obvious he was after sex from someone there.
“He said he had a crush on her, but didn’t mean it in an intimate way,” 15-year-old Marissa Chavez toldThe San Diego Union-Tribune. “He said, ‘If I was your age, I’d date you.'”
The comment made the girls uneasy, Marissa added.
She said DiMaggio took Hannah to Hollywood for a week-long “Sweet 16” birthday celebration. The trip was cut short, however, because DiMaggio became upset about the amount of time Hannah spent on her cellphone.
“After that she never responded to his texts and e-mails,” Marissa told the San Diego newspaper.
It sounds as if the family made a couple of common mistakes. First, they were down on their luck financially. So, they were probably eager to accept help, and less likely to critique DiMaggio’s motives. When people are needy, predators sense it.
The second problem I call the “Beemus Illusion,” after my own former immature, older male friend who weaseled into young women’s lives by playing the nonsexual big brother role, then had tantrums and blowups when we didn’t want to have sex with him. In order to label a guy like DiMaggio appropriately, a woman has to make a socially disapproved assessment — even privately — of a friendly-acting male as a loser. Easy for me to do it from behind a keyboard. But when it mattered in my own life, I was reluctant. When I finally did, other people got mad at me. You can see the same illusion in effect with the kidnapped girl’s father — he talked about what a great guy DiMaggio was, how he “obviously just lost it.” No one wants to see the warning signs.
I like to think I wouldn’t fall for it now. When you’re a parent, you’re not supposed to take chances. In the Boy Scouts, the rule is never have fewer than two approved adults alone with a kid. That’s a common rule now for children’s activities. And normal adults don’t like to hang out alone with unrelated children. It sounds like torture to spend a week alone in Hollywood with some friend’s teenaged son or daughter.
My oldest son is old enough where I’m supposed to talk about “stranger danger” with him. This is what I’m telling him: Normal adults don’t talk to kids they don’t know unless it’s their job. And they don’t ask kids for help when they’re alone, they ask them to go get an adult. Normal adults also don’t tell kids their private business. I wish my parents had been clearer about this. For instance, when I told my normally strict dad that “My (male) English teacher is picking me up this weekend for an art show,” why where there no follow-up questions? And we thought it was so cool when he talked in class about his ex-girlfriends, even the one who committed suicide.
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