Branford probe of 3 stranglings leads to Web site


Published: Friday, January 28, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 27, 2005 at 11:38 p.m.
Since the strangling deaths of three Branford Middle High School students during the past three months, the small, rural community has been looking for answers to explain why the boys died.
Officials have been intensely investigating whether all three were playing a game known as blackout, in which people try to choke themselves until they pass out, creating a short high.
To find out where information about the game was coming from, investigators and others looked to the Internet and found a Web site with the name blackout.com.
"We have looked at that site and I have read it and talked to the FBI and the State Attorney," Suwannee County Sheriff Tony Cameron said. "Both of them said no laws were being violated."
Investigators said they could find no evidence that the Web site encouraged or condoned the game and it may have been coincidental that the Web site and choking game bore the same name.
Cameron also said his office is not investigating any other Web sites at this time.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Fort Lauderdale-based creator and Web master of the site called The Sun and denied any involvement with the case.
Michael Biggins said he started his Web site several years ago as a witty humor site where about 1,000 people now regularly post items on bulletin boards or join in discussions.
Some people in the Branford area believed Biggins' Web site was part of the problem because some of the postings were about the Branford deaths.
Biggins said the first posting he read about the blackout game was something that he responded to satirically, a response that in retrospect he said he probably would have done differently.
"You have to understand that this is a humor Web site and I do pranks and people do elaborate pranks to get me back and perhaps that's why I made a sarcastic reply in the beginning," Biggins said. "I went back and forth not knowing if this was real or not and when I realized it was not a hoax I posted an official statement on the site."
The statement, in part, read, "I am very sorry to hear that you are suffering with the loss of someone you loved or cared about. That is never a fun time nor a time that you are probably in any sort of mood for humor, so I apologize if you took my responses seriously. They were ment (sic)merely as satire, or dark humor, because at the time I did not believe the posts to be real."
Biggins also told The Sun, "I want it to be clear that I am not responsible and blackout.com has nothing to do with what those kids decided to do."
Biggins said he got the nickname Blackout as a high school student at Piper High School in Fort Lauderdale. During his first airshift at the school's radio station, a lightning strike hit the transmitter, blowing the station off the air and temporarily leaving the entire school without power. A short time later, a teacher told Biggins "Nice job, Blackout," and the nickname stuck.
Karen Voyles can be reached at (352) 486-5058 or voylesk@gvillesun.com.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

Comments are currently unavailable on this article

▲ Return to Top