ModelMayhem is to budding photographers and models everywhere what Craigslist is to...well...budding photographers and models (and then some) everywhere, though with a few more perks that let you have a profile complete with photos, model measurements and opportunities to network within the site. Unfortunately, just as anywhere else in the world, both have their share of creeps. And when three young women go missing in one area, we have to remind ourselves yet again: no matter the situation, be safe...
Nineteen-year-old Colorado Springs resident Kara Nichols apparently told her roommates she was going to Denver for a modeling job October 9th and hasn't been seen since, according to Denver's ABC Channel 7 News. Twenty-two-year-old Denver local Kelsie Schelling's car was found empty February 4th. And while authorities now consider 17-year-old Aurora native Raven Cassidy Furlong a runaway (her ModelMayhem profile was logged into yesterday), the other two have yet to be heard from, and all three have profiles on the popular website (or something similar).
A few more details can be found in the original story, but what's important to remember is that this isn't an issue specific to ModelMayhem. The internet is littered with stories of infamous Craigslist killers (yes, there are several) and other unfortunate cases. So women, girls, even men (let's not be too sexist, here) -- please be careful and smart about your decisions when going to
shoot photograph new models or be photographed as models.
For convenience, here are some common and not-so-common sense tips for -- really -- meeting anyone new online:
1.) Meet somewhere public and, preferably, in the daytime (or at an open and busy Starbucks or similar venue)
2.) Have a friend with you. Girls/Women/Men/Anyone: Two girls are better than one (creepers don't think that differently from the rest of us). But for our younger or less experienced readers, that goes both ways. It can give you the attention you want but can also make you the kind of target you really don't want to be. Having a man that you know well with you is your best bet (that's not sexist, just common sense).
3.) Have some kind of weapon with you. This includes self-defense knowledge, pepper-spray, stun guns, and other items that are easy to use -- and know full well how to use them safely and legally if worse comes to worst.
4.) For everyone's sake, Google the guy. And don't just click on the first link of his copyright-infringing website of Vogue images. Be smart about it. This should be your first step, but for those that don't get this far, the top three should hopefully keep you covered if you stick to them. If you get ANY vibe that's just a little off, now is not the time to quote Nike. Just don't do it.
5.) If it's too good to be true -- do I have to say it? -- it is. Don't fly out to LA or NYC or Timbuktu because a "manager" of "the just-launched National Geographic Exotic-Yet-Tasteful Women Swimsuit edition" -- none of which exist on Google -- wants you on the first cover ever. And if you absolutely can't resist, follow steps 1-5... Yes. Five, too.
We hope these young women are found soon and safely. If you hear, know, or suspect anything relating to the case, please contact local authorities who can use the information to find these women safely.