Police pontificate as Montrealer threatens to murder science journalists

Une version française sera disponible sous peu.

A Montreal man who uses the name David Mabus, and who has been identified as Dennis Markuze of Saint-Laurent, Qué., has allegedly been issuing death threats to American science journalists and bloggers over the course of the past three years, first by email and lately via twitter. However, despite repeated complaints to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Montreal City Police (SVPM), no action has been taken.

"I’ve been getting emails from him for about 3 years or so, ever since I started my website http://whatstheharm.net and James Randi mentioned it in a blog post,” said Tim Farley, whose blog challenges people to think critically. “I have almost 60 screen shots of DIRECT death threats he sent to me.  Stuff like “I am going to execute you, fucker… The police will not save you… we’re going to beat the fuck out of you, u lying little sack of shit…. and so on.”

Markuze appears, ironically, to be on some kind of extremist Christian bent, attacking the journalists for their defence of science against creationism or their beliefs in the separation of Church and State. One blogger who prefers to remain anonymous provided the following quote, which was left on a July 2010 article about Galileo: “We have orders to EXTERMINATE you and your entire family if continue to talk about GOD and RELIGION the way *you do* do you got the msg, you stupid little fucker?”

However, not all the missives are so explicitly religious. Heather Henderson, an actress in North Hollywood, Calif., provided the following screen capture:

"I’ve tried to interest the local police in Montreal and the RCMP in doing something about him, but they both seem to have a problem with taking complaints from people that don’t live in their jurisdictions," Farley said. "The Montreal police told me to file with my local police, which I did back in January.  Nothing has happened, even though I faxed the resulting police report to Montreal. It drives me nuts because Markuze seems SO similar to the David Abitbol and @JeffSabres cases, both of which happened in Montreal and both of which resulted in arrests.” Another American journalist said that police had visited Markuze once, “which only resulted in months of taunting saying the police can’t save us.”

Your correspondent happens to share an office with Daniel Baril, former President of the Quebec Secular Movement and Mathieu-Robert Sauvé, current President of the Quebec Association for Science Communicators. Neither Baril nor Sauvé had ever heard of either Markuze or Mabus. That’s quite odd considering his firing range reaches across continents, and would certainly suggest that the perpetrator believes he is free to threaten whomever he likes, provided that person is not in Quebec.

While geography might appear to be a mitigating factor, nobody else seems to be spared - even Rhys Morgan, a 16 year old Crohn’s sufferer from Wales, has received abusive twitter messages from Markuze.

Considering the number of death threats and abuse researchers in Montreal receive from around the world, it is appalling and shameful that our own police service is not acting rapidly and decisively to protect their international colleagues. It is appalling and shameful that our police react promptly to threats to Quebec journalists but not to those based abroad. The SPVM on the other hand has claimed that they have not received any reports, but that concerned citizens may forward any information they may have to relations.medias@spvm.qc.ca for referral.

"My big concern is that he needs to be taken in and evaluated psychologically, and it needs to happen before he does something violent that matches his words," Farley said. Markuze is known to hang around science events in Montreal - the following photo was taken of him at the American Atheist Convention which took place here in October 2010. In other words, it appears that Markuze is moving off the Internet and into the real world. Action needs to be taken now, before someone gets hurt.

Dennis Markuze. Photo taken at the American Atheist Convention which took place in Montreal on October 2010.

Something to add? Please email me at rw.raillantclark@gmail.com

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