If 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that the 10th circle of hell is where people who should never have been famous are allowed far more than their 15 minutes.
Dubbed the “Tinder Murder” after the pair met on the dating app, the case has lived on far beyond the verdict, kept alive in no small part by the more than 5,000 members of the “Gable Tostee and Warriena Wright case discussion” Facebook page.
For the American and Australian true crime fans who created the group, their forum has lasted a lot longer and become more controversial than they could have predicted.
Not least because only months after his trial ended, Tostee or Thomas appeared to join the Facebook group himself on Tuesday to answer questions, the Gold Coast Bulletin reported.
From the start, Wright’s death captivated the media as well as the outer reaches of the internet, and it was raked over in notorious web 2.0-style forums like MyDeathSpace.
It had all the ingredients: Two photogenic young people, 30-year-old Gable Tostee and 26-year-old Warriena Wright, who died after she fell from his apartment balcony on Aug. 8, 2014.
It also had Tostee’s seemingly bizarre actions audio recording a large part of his encounter with Wright on his mobile phone, and most famously, buying himself a slice of pizza shortly after she fell from his apartment balcony to her death.
Among other things, Tostee or Thomas used his appearance on the Facebook group to discuss a recent milkshake drinking competition noted by the media, with little mention of the woman who lost her life. Plus he shared gifs.
Mashable reached out to Tostee/Thomas and his supposed girlfriend Lizzi Evans, another regular group commenter, but was unable to independently confirm their identities.
It’s just the latest twist in a saga that has played out online as well as in the court, from juror Instagram posts that almost caused a mistrial, to Tostee’s own digital trail left scattered about the internet’s body building chat threads.
Olivia McKenzie, who is based on the east coast of Australia, told Mashable she and fellow group administrator Belinda Perez had been online friends for years.
They’re both veterans of online crime discussion forums, and they’re also administrators of other Facebook groups dedicated to the Dee Dee and Gypsy Blancharde murder case in America and locally, the disappearance of William Tyrrell.
The Tostee group began on Oct. 11, 2016 during his trial, and she said they expected the chatter to quieten once the verdict came back and he was acquitted. It did not.
“I’d say the crap began when he was found not guilty everyone was just angry,” said group moderator Kendall Paige, who is based in Newcastle. “For him, against him people are quite brutal.”
“It’s taught me that age means nothing on how people conduct themselves,” she added.
McKenzie suggested the Tostee group had longevity simply because of the amount of personal detritus Tostee had left scattered about the internet, including a full defence of his actions on bodybuilding.com.
“The Gable case, for example, was huge because he’s been online everywhere,” she said. “He’s been on all those forums, not even just Facebook but all the body building forums. People had more information that wasn’t reported in the trial.”
Perez, who lives in Texas, seemed unfazed. “You have the social media aspect of it. You tend to get more people who are in ‘the know’ that join the discussion,” she told Mashable over Messenger. “This group has been no different to the others.”
Not so for Paige, who said she found herself wishing they had shut the group down after the trial. “My belief in humanity dies every day,” she joked.
Increasingly, the forum has devolved into bad taste jokes about balconies and Tostee memes.
His continued media appearances, including a 60 Minutes interview, only added more fuel. “He keeps feeding it,” she suggested.
Since Tostee lived so much of his life pre-trial online, it makes sense to the group founders that they unpack the tragedy of him and Wright on there too.
While Facebook may seem a jarring place to discuss Wright’s last words, appearing in your Newsfeed alongside family pictures and status updates, McKenzie suggested that some of the internet’s more hardcore crime forums can be difficult to wade through Facebook offers a neater solution.
“People want to be able to discuss the case as well, but don’t want to join forums to be able to do so,” Perez said. “Facebook is an outlet that most people use and don’t feel too uncomfortable joining a closed group to discuss cases.”
For Paige, like many others, the “why” of what happened on Aug. 8, 2014 will always be fascinating “What drives people to do x y z.”
“I guess it’s also like watching Dateline?” she said.