Lorin LaFave is the mother of four children, three teenage triplets and an older son, Breck Bednar. An American living in England, LaFave had a normal, busy, happy life until February 16, 2014—her birthday—when it changed tragically forever. On that day, Breck was sadistically murdered by a fellow gamer he’d met playing video games online, one who had been grooming Breck for months, 18-year-old Lewis Daynes.
Breck’s story, and his mother’s passionate crusade to educate parents and teens about online predators who “groom” victims is the subject of a new BBC documentary called “Murder Games”. The show painfully picks apart Breck’s case—and though it hurts Lorin to be involved, she says she HAS to do it to honor her son. She also says that since his death, talking about their family tragedy is difficult, but so is EVERYTHING else.
“It’s all equally hard and I kind of dread everything,” she told The Guardian.
“I do these things – I do everything in a robotic way, forcing my body when, really, I’d rather sit and hide and disappear because the pain this has caused is just too deep.”
The beginning of the end of Breck Bednar’s short, beautiful life began in 2013 when he and some friends—all of whom he knew in real life—joined a gaming group on a server led by someone they didn’t know, a gamer named Lewis Daynes. He claimed to be a 17-year-old computer engineer running a multimillion-dollar (or pound, in England) company. To LaFave, this seemed bogus, but as Breck always gamed with his bedroom door open and she could check in on and hear what was being said often, she wasn’t overly concerned—at first. The savvy Daynes would always chat with her when Breck mentioned she was in the room, and put cute mum-related icons on his gaming screen. He was making nice with Breck’s mum—for awhile.
But as the months passed, LaFave’s sweet, happy boy began withdrawing from his family. He used to love to be with family and friends, but now he just wanted to be online, gaming. And his mum began to hear a lot of “Lewis says”.
“‘Lewis says I don’t need to finish school as he can get me a Microsoft apprenticeship when I turn 16.’ ‘Lewis says as I don’t drink or smoke and do well in school, I should be allowed to game as long as I want …’” LaFave told The Guardian.
Eventually Daynes grew bold enough that he’d even mock Lorin when she came into her son’s room, putting witches on his computer screen and telling Breck not to listen when his mom told him to get offline.
LaFave and Breck’s dad, Barry Bednar, were beyond concerned. They each offered to take Breck to meet Daynes in real life so he could prove who he really was, but Daynes always refused.
Eventually, desperately scared for her son, LaFave called the police in December 2013. The person who answered the call seemed confused about what “grooming” was, so LaFave explained—and by the end of the call, she believed the Surrey Police were going to investigate Daynes.
She was wrong. But if they HAD investigated him, they would have found that Daynes, now 18, has been accused of rape of a boy in 2011.
But Lorin heard nothing from the police, so she confiscated Breck’s computer equipment and called a meeting with Breck’s dad, Breck, another boy from the gaming group and his parents and they laid out their concerns about Daynes.
But it was too late. Lewis Daynes was already making plans.
Unbeknownst to Breck’s parents, he had secretly sent Breck a phone so they could still communicate. He had also convinced Breck to record everything that was said at the meeting, so that Daynes could know what he was up against. Daynes realized his time to get what he wanted from Breck was running out, so he hatched a plan. He told Breck he was ill and didn’t have long to live, and that he wanted Breck to take over his “multi-million pound company”, but that he would have to come to his apartment in Essex to learn how to do that.
While Breck was staying with his dad, Barry, he asked permission to go to a well-known friend’s house. But instead, he took a cab, paid for by Daynes, to meet him at his apartment. Later in the evening his dad received a text asking if Breck could stay overnight with his friend and saying that they were ordering pizza. His dad, delighted that he was spending time with friends instead of being on the computer, gave permission. He had no idea his son’s short life was about to be snuffed out.
No one knows the exact details of what happened next, except for Lewis Daynes, but there is evidence that Breck was sexually assaulted before Daynes slit his throat. Daynes called 999 (the British version of 911) and said, “My friend and I got into an altercation … and I’m the only one who came out alive.” Then, the killer sadistically sent pictures of Breck’s dead and bloodied body to Breck’s friends—the other members of the gaming group. Horrifyingly, these photos made their way to Breck’s younger siblings’ phones at the same time as police were contacting his father.
Breck Bednar was killed on his mother’s birthday. And several days later, his parents buried him on his own birthday—what should have been his 15th.
Daynes later pleaded guilty to murder with sexual and sadistic motivation and was sentenced to life in prison.
Lorin told the Guardian about the terrible effects her son’s murder has had on their family. “It’s incomprehensible,” she says. “I have to carry on for the other children, but I’ve aged 100 years. The triplets lost their youth. They went from 12 to teen, from ‘yay, happy, poopoo’ to ‘duct tape, murder, stabbing’. I didn’t know Daynes was a murderer but I knew he was dangerous. All I’d done with police, with other parents, with Breck, all the rules I’d had, the talking we did … it all failed.”
Before she even buried her son, Lorin set up the Breck Foundation to raise awareness on internet safety. She speaks at schools, to parents, to police, and at conferences, spreading the message about safety and online predators, and helping parents to recognize the signs of grooming.
A point that she makes over and over again is that boys are just as susceptible to grooming as girls. She says, “Boys may report this less but I want everyone to understand that they can be groomed and hurt – maybe not murdered but hurt in other ways – by people who are not who they say they are online. I want police to understand what grooming is so that when a parent calls with a name, it will go into the system.
Parents, Lorin’s message is one we CANNOT ignore. She is begging you to BE AWARE so you can protect your children! Listen to her powerful words in this video, and be inspired to make sure YOUR child is not next.
For more information on online safety, check out the resources at BreckBednar.com.