Perfect World: A gamer murdered his family and told his online friends. Here’s how they tracked him down

On 27 July 2019, Menhaz Zaman murdered 4 of his relations. According to a press release of info later utilized in court docket, Zaman, a resident of Canada, killed his mom, his grandmother, his sister, and his father in a nine-hour span. Then, based on a number of stories and now a documentary, he confessed to the murders online, telling mates on a gaming server he had simply “slaughtered [his] whole family”.

The messages had been posted on Discord, a service by way of which customers can talk on devoted servers. This explicit server, Global News reported in 2019, was referred to as Perfect World Void and devoted to the online multiplayer recreation Perfect World.

At the time of Zaman’s confession, different customers on the server solely knew him by the title on his account, Menhaz. They didn’t know his full title, or any particulars of his identification, a lot much less his handle. In different phrases: the particular person behind the account confessed to a number of murders – and, based on a 2019 investigation by Vice, despatched ugly photographs purportedly of the crime scene – to a gaggle of people that couldn’t feasibly report him to authorities.

When the Menhaz account posted concerning the murders, different customers of the Discord server sprung into motion. They set off on a seek for any figuring out info that may allow them to alert authorities to the scenario. A new Peacock documentary, Perfect World: A Deadly Game, chronicles their efforts by way of firsthand accounts from the group of online avid gamers who tracked down Menhaz.

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According to the individuals who interacted with the Menhaz account online, the account had a historical past of sharing offensive feedback previous to the murders, together with brazenly racist messages concentrating on Muslim individuals. “Everything that Menhaz stated was did was obscenely f***** racist,” Nicole, one of many individuals in Perfect World: A Deadly Game, says within the first episode. The account had been banned beforehand, however had returned to the platform. On 27 July 2019, the messages took a worrying flip when the account told a gaggle chat: “Gonna kill my mother and father and go to jail yo.” The account then shared a photograph of a lifeless girl’s physique, with the message: “This is my mother.”

Users of the Discord server weren’t positive what to suppose. Was the account telling the reality, or was this a merciless prank? The account then despatched one other, comparable picture, “allegedly of his grandmother”, Nicole recounts within the documentary.

One person, John, was virtually sure that the messages had been telling the reality. He despatched the photographs to a gaggle of different contacts in an try and see whether or not they might be matched with any pre-existing photographs accessible online – which might have been an indication Menhaz’s messages had been fabricated. Among John’s contacts was Nicole, a prison justice pupil with some data of forensics. She had little doubt the accidents on the photographs had been actual, not staged. “But it’s attainable that these photographs might have been from the web, from a shock website,” she says within the documentary.

Nicole tried a reverse Google Image search that returned no outcomes. She checked a pair extra databases, to no avail. “There had been no outcomes which implied that he had simply pulled them from some random web site,” she says. “They had been most likely taken by him. That’s when it was like, ‘This is the actual deal. Our pal is a mass assassin.’”

People whose online lives intersected with that of the particular person they knew solely as Menhaz hailed from numerous elements of the world; the documentary contains individuals based mostly within the US, Egypt, Romania, Belgium, Israel, and Costa Rica. They didn’t know the place the particular person behind the Menhaz account lived, or what his full title was. One of them tried to contact the police in Texas, the place he himself was based mostly, however says he wasn’t taken significantly. Members of the Discord had been disturbed and scared. They nervous there can be extra victims; they felt a urgent must intervene.

They consulted one other person referred to as Junior, from Costa Rica, whom they thought would possibly know Menhaz higher than they did. Junior tried to succeed in Menhaz, messaging him till the account lastly replied, based on the documentary: “This might upset you, however I did it.” The particular person behind the account then threatened to kill his father and his sister subsequent.

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The group had been no nearer to figuring out or finding Menhaz. They appeared on the historical past of Menhaz’s messages and decided he was probably positioned within the Eastern Time zone. A test of his IP handle returned a location in Toronto, however IP addresses solely give a common thought of the place somebody is likely to be. “That narrows it down from 7.3 billion individuals to 6 million individuals,” Nicole says within the documentary. “It’s like discovering a needle in a haystack.”

Then, Menhaz logged again into the sport. This gave Austin, one of many directors, an opportunity to hint a extra exact IP handle – and due to this fact a extra exact location. That time, he was in a position to slender it down to a particular constructing on a particular road in Toronto. The group positioned a cellphone quantity for the owner, hoping they would possibly be capable of establish Menhaz’s condominium quantity.

But when the cellphone rang, they realized the cellphone quantity – and the handle that went with it – had been these of Menhaz’s web supplier. What had appeared like a promising lead turned out to be a lifeless finish, and they had been no nearer to finding Menhaz personally.

Menhaz despatched extra disturbing messages to the Discord server in addition to one other picture, telling the group he had killed his sister. The particular person behind the account threatened to do the identical to his father when he got here dwelling in an hour.

The group stored attempting.

According to Peacock’s documentary, they contacted a member of the Discord server based mostly in Saint Paul, Minnesota, who referred to as the native police. Someone directed him to the Toronto Police Department, after which Toronto Police filed an emergency request with Discord for any figuring out info for Menhaz. This enabled them to pay money for Menhaz’s IP handle, which directed them in the direction of the web service supplier Rogers. Detectives contacted Rogers, which lastly delivered the bodily handle registered with Menhaz’s account.

The account in Perfect World: A Deadly Game differs from one given to Vice by Discord customers in 2019. In that account, the particular person behind the Menhaz account requested for cash by way of PayPal, which enabled the group to lookup earlier funds created from the identical PayPal account in addition to a house handle. This echoes a Toronto Life article which, like Vice’s report, says it was a gamer named Bianca who discovered Menhaz’s dwelling handle by way of his PayPal account and gave it to the police over the cellphone.

What shouldn’t be in dispute is that law enforcement officials had been referred to as to an handle on Castlemore Avenue in Markham, a metropolis in Ontario (about 18 miles from Toronto) on 28 July 2019. Inside, as reported by Global News on the time, they discovered the our bodies of Firoza Begum (Zaman’s grandmother), Moniruz Zaman (his father), Malesa Zaman (his sister), and Momotaz Begum (his mom).

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According to all three accounts – the Peacock documentary, Vice, and Toronto Life, Menhaz messages the Discord server stating: “Police are right here. Goodbye.”

Moniruz Zaman and Momotaz Begum, Menhaz Zaman’s mother and father, emigrated to Canada from Bangladesh within the late Nineteen Eighties, Toronto Life reported in February 2020. Menhaz, born in 1996, was their eldest, adopted by his sister Malesa Zaman in 1998. A former highschool pal of Menhaz’s described him to the publication as having been “simply a median Markham child”; a neighbor stated he had appeared like “the family’s golden youngster”.

Prior to the murders, Menhaz’s family believed he was learning engineering at York University in Toronto, CTV News reported. Instead, he had dropped out after two semesters in an electronics engineering program at Seneca College. According to Toronto Life, on the night time of the murders, Menhaz recommended he had acted because the date of his supposed commencement was approaching, writing on Discord: “It’s been my plan for 3 years. Literally told my mother and father my uni commencement was July twenty eighth. I couldn’t have delayed it any longer.” He reportedly added: “I did this as a result of I don’t need my mother and father to really feel the disgrace of getting a son like me” and “I’m a pathetic coward and a subhuman. Since I’m an atheist, I imagine there’s no afterlife. So I used to be scared to die. And I needed them to die in order that they didn’t undergo figuring out how a lot of a pathetic subhuman I used to be. It’s all very egocentric. I’m simply pathetic.”

Interrogation tapes in Perfect World: A Deadly Game present Menhaz confessing to the murders, telling a detective: “Four of my family members are lifeless due to me” and “I simply killed them” however declining to debate a motive. According to members of the Discord server, Menhaz stated he had spent his days at a mall and going to a group health club when his family believed he was attending courses.

Zaman pleaded responsible in September 2020 to a few counts of first-degree homicide and one rely of second-degree homicide. He was sentenced in November of that yr to life in jail with no parole eligibility for 40 years. During a sentencing listening to in October 2020, he told the court docket: “I wish to simply apologize to anybody I’ve impacted negatively with my actions. Especially to the individuals who knew my family – mates and family members who I do know might have by no means seen one thing like this from me taking place. I’m sorry.”

Afnan Alibaccas, Malesa Zaman’s finest pal, told the court docket based on CTV News: “I by no means thought I must write a sufferer influence assertion for my finest pal’s homicide. I by no means thought she can be taken away from me like this. I believed the one time I might write a speech for her can be on her marriage ceremony day in some unspecified time in the future sooner or later, however I suppose that’s off the desk now.”

She added: “I concern seeing Menhaz. I concern what he might do as a free man. I’ve panicked a number of occasions in public since he dedicated the homicide in concern of seeing him or once I see anybody who seems like him. I concern this ache and anxiousness won’t ever depart me.”

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