Help To Halt Online Predators

A Palestinian shop owner displays mugs for sale with portraits of President Obama at a souvenir shop in Gaza City, May 31, 2009.
AP Photo/Hatem Moussa
Internet predator Saul Dos Reis was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Tuesday, for the crimes of first-degree manslaughter and second-degree sexual assault.

Dos Reis, 25, of Greenwich, Conn., pleaded guilty to those charges last March, prior to going to trial for the death of 13-year-old Christina A. Long of Danbury, Conn., who he had met online.

Shelley Riling, Long's aunt, will visit The Early Show Thursday to discuss the case and provide some tips for other guardians to keep children with Internet access safe.

One direct result of the Long murder was a push in Congress for the law President Bush signed in December to create a "dot-kids" domain on the Internet. But for Long's guardian, Riling, a Webmaster who thought she had monitored Chrissy's online activities, the worry is that parents and children don't understand the dangers well enough to spot online predators.

In February 2003, she started telling her story on behalf of a nonprofit Internet safety foundation, I-Safe America. Riling says that though she had set strict guidelines and explained possible dangers to her niece, she didn't understand enough about the way Internet predators work to ask Long the right questions about her new virtual friends.

According to I-Safe America, one in five children using the Internet has been propositioned for sex. And, they say, one in four was involuntarily exposed to pornography.

To keep kids safe while online, Riling suggests parents to pay attention to the people with whom their children communicate on the computer with; keep the lines of communication open; and don't panic if you see a problem.

She instructed the children to never provide chat room strangers with information that could be traced to them. She also advices children that if a friend is involved in inappropriate behavior with an online stranger, they should tell a parent or school official.

Riling says with close to 50 million American children currently using computers, the list of child victims continues to grow.

Defense attorneys had maintain that Dos Reis did not deny killing Christina, but insisted her death was an accident. Dos Reis pleaded guilty under the Alford doctrine, in which he acknowledged the prosecution had enough evidence to convict him but did not agree entirely with the state's version of events.

Prosecutors contend Dos Reis strangled Long in his car after the pair had sex at the Danbury Fair Mall in Connecticut and then dumped her body in a shallow stream in a secluded Greenwich subdivision.

The defense, in its pre-sentencing memo, alleged Long was fascinated with rough sex and encouraged Dos Reis to choke her while having sex on May 17.

When Dos Reis started using his hands, Christina passed out, the memo states. The defense said Dos Reis realized she was dead when he tried to revive her using mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and tasted blood. He then panicked and drove around with Christina's dead body in his car for nearly an hour, eventually arriving near his home in Greenwich where he disposed of her corpse in the stream, the memo states.

Dos Reis has also pleaded guilty to federal charges that he crossed state lines to have sex with Christina and another girl on a different occasion. He will be sentenced in federal court on July 7.