The family of Facebook murder victim Katie Wynter have spoken of their “living hell” – to warn about the dangers of social networking sites.
Katie, a talented young art student, was duped into dating twisted loner Tony Bushby after he created four fake Facebook profiles.
His phoney friends all got to know the shy, church-going 19-year-old online and the messages he sent pretending to be them persuaded her to trust and like him.
Chillingly, at the same time, karate teacher Bushby was also watching violent “submissive black girl” porn and rape websites — and Googling murder methods for burying a body.
Six months after he convinced her to go out with him, Bushby killed Katie, stabbing her 23 times in a frenzied knife attack while she babysat her young nephew and niece — then tried to pin it on one of his fake Facebook friends.
Her grief-stricken mum Joy Briscoe warns: “Facebook is a dangerous thing, especially for young girls. As a parent, you don’t know what your child is getting up to.
“I wish I’d kept a closer watch on her. You just expect your kids to be safe in your own home.”
It is a year since Katie’s funeral, but for support worker Joy, 57, and her elder daughter Sabrina, 31, their pain is still raw.
The brutal murder took place in Sabrina’s home in Borehamwood, Herts, where Katie was staying overnight to babysit her niece and nephew, then aged four and five.
Joy went round to check all was OK and walked into a bloodbath.
She says: “I could hear the children chattering. I called out their names and they ran to the door.
“They were shouting, ‘Grandma, Katie’s dead’. My heart dropped into my stomach.
“Then I saw bloody footprints and, poking out from under the door frame, were Katie’s feet.
“I ran into the kitchen and was confronted by something like out of a horror film — my little girl, covered in blood. I tried to lift her but she was already cold and stiff.”
As police arrived Joy called Sabrina to break the terrible news. Sabrina, who has asked that her children are not named, says: “They still talk about it. It hurts so much to think of them carrying this image of their auntie in their heads. My daughter still draws pictures of Katie covered in red.
“I hope the memories of what they saw will fade one day — they remember it so vividly.”
Katie had met Bushby, 19, at West Hertfordshire College in Watford, but their relationship developed online. He was in the year above and considered an outsider. After he had gained her trust through his Facebook lies, they started secretly dating in June 2011.
Joy had her suspicions about Bushby from the first time she saw him with Katie. She says: “His eyes were glazed. I had this horrible gut feeling about him. He seemed strange, anti-social.”
Sabrina adds: “He was her first boyfriend so I thought she’d be excited to talk about him. But she would shrug off any question.
“We imagine she was told to keep quiet about their relationship. He wanted to cover his tracks.”
They believe Bushby planned to kill Katie on December 23, but because she had told Sabrina she was meeting him, he changed his mind.
Instead he bombarded her with texts and Facebook messages over Christmas, then stabbed her to death on Boxing Day. In court, Bushby initially claimed the killer was Dan Tress — one of his fake Facebook friends along with Cyn Darwin, Shane Pleuon and Krystal Stanguard. But police confirmed all the profiles were his.
Bushby was sentenced to 25 years in prison for murder at St Albans Crown Court in July last year.
For the family, losing Katie is a heartache they feel daily.
Sabrina says: “We will never forgive him. He’s not just robbed us of Katie, he’s destroyed us all as well.
“He’s taken her life, but he’s claiming all of ours. We’re living on earth through hell.”
Joy adds: “We need to speak out to make sure that social media crimes like this stop. Parents need to be more aware of what their children are doing online.
“If we can save one life, then at least something positive can come out of this tragedy.”