DESOTO COUNTY, MS (abc24.com) - What role does social media play in predicting or preventing violent crimes?
The two young men arrested this week in Olive Branch for killing one of their neighbors both had troubling Facebook pages.
Nicholas Walker and Charles Dalton Shoemake are charged with killing 21-year-old Paul Victor III, then dumping his body in Shelby Farms.
Neither of the men had a criminal record, but their online postings reveal a darker side. The two talked about killing others or themselves well before they took Victor's life last Saturday morning.
Postings on the Olive Branch Police Facebook page say Shoemake described himself as a hit man.
In October, Walker wrote "I get on Facebook...and already want to kill everyone I see."
For police, those types of posts are warning signs.
"We do look at social media and you do start seeing a lot of troubled individuals," said Horn Lake Police Lt. Scott Evans. "What they're posting does cause some concern."
Last January, almost one year from the day he was arrested, Walker wrote "I need to go to prison to escape the prison I'm already in."
It's a telling line now, but for cops there's a fine line trying to decide when freedom of speech becomes a concern.
"It's not against the law to post your feelings online," Evans told abc24.com. "But as an investigator and police, if we feel like someone is going to harm themselves or someone one else we'd try to look into it."
In November, a 19-year-old former Millington High School student was arrested after making a hit list and posting it on Facebook.
"You just don't do that. Facebook, a lot of people view this as a toy, a game, but it's serious," Shelby County Schools Spokerson Mike Tebbe said at the time. "Even if someone says they were kidding, we are serious. This shouldn't happen."
"With school shootings and things, you have to take that kind of stuff serious," Evans said. "You can't just blow it off like you used to could in that they're just kidding."
That Millington student was charged with a misdemeanor for making those threats. Walker and Shoemake are both facing murder charges.