A status update appeared on Kristen McShane’s Facebook page just after 11 a.m. on Jan. 7.
“I can’t believe I dropped my phone in the toilet,” it read. “I’m such an idiot. Message me here, til I can get it fixed.”
But according to police, McShane was already dead when the update was posted.
Her husband, George McShane Jr., told investigators that he’d pretended to be his wife by posting on her Facebook wall to convince family members and friends that she was still alive. He said he posted that his wife’s phone had been dropped in the toilet so no one would panic that she was not returning calls or text messages, according to an arrest affidavit.
Police say the 42-year-old Orlando resident killed his wife after the two had a fight.
The Orlando Police Department was called to the couple’s home on Tuesday, days after authorities say Kristen McShane was killed.
Officers found George McShane inside his sport-utility vehicle that was parked in the garage with the engine running, the affidavit said. Police believe he was trying to kill himself.
They found Kristen McShane’s body in the master bedroom, under a comforter.
George McShane told police that he and his wife had an argument about 3:30 a.m. on Jan. 7. He lost his temper, jumped on his wife and choked her to death, according to the affidavit.
Six hours later, Kristen McShane’s Facebook profile picture was updated to show her next to a man at what appeared to be a social event.
“Who’s your friend,” one person commented.
“That’s my new guy,” was the reply a few hours later.
George McShane, who has been charged with second-degree murder and domestic battery by strangulation, told police he used his wife’s Facebook page to send messages to friends.
There also were responses to people’s suggestions for how to fix the phone.
“Put it in rice,” a friend suggested on Jan. 7.
“Already did girl. Fingers crossed,” was the response just minutes later.
“I have it in rice … I checked yesterday, but it didn’t work then,” read a comment posted on Jan. 9, in response to a question about the status of the phone. “If it’s not working, I’m gonna bring it to Verizon after George gets home from work and see if they’ll give me one.”
Kristen McShane’s profile picture also was changed twice on Jan. 8 — first to a photo of her smiling and painting a snowman, and again, just two minutes later, to one of a little girl sleeping.
Only messages of condolences have appeared on her Facebook page since George McShane was arrested and arraigned on Wednesday. Online court records show that he has been assigned a public defender.
The Florida case is the latest incident in which someone is believed to have used a person’s social media account to create distraction from a crime.
In October, a man’s Facebook account suddenly became active after he and his girlfriend disappeared. First, there was an announcement that the two had gotten married; then came various postings, including news stories about the missing couple, and strange, violent images and memes, The Washington Post’s Travis M. Andrews reported at the time.
Although the rate of violent acts committed against women by their spouses or intimate partners declined by 72 percent from 1994 to 2001, federal statistics show that women were more likely to be victims of homicides committed by their intimate partners.
Nearly 40 percent of the 3,032 homicides involving female victims in 2010 were committed by their intimate partners, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Of the 10,878 homicides involving male victims, only 3 percent were committed by their intimate partners, according to the federal agency’s data.
Family members have started GoFundMe campaigns to help support Kristen McShane’s two young children and to help pay for her funeral.
“This beautiful girl lost her life due to domestic violence,” Kristin Lynn wrote on one of the GoFundMe pages. “She always put herself last and others first. This beautiful human being (my best friend) was taken way too soon.”
By Sunday, several of Kristen McShane’s loved ones had changed their profile pictures to a purple ribbon, with the words “RIP Kristen” and “Love shouldn’t hurt.”