NYC Family Sues Facebook Over Image Of Daughter’s Corpse

Parents Of Caroline Wimmer Disgusted By Social Site's Immunity

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The outraged family of a local murder victim is taking on Facebook.

It was a paramedic who took the crime scene photos, and posted them on the site, but is Facebook, itself, to blame?

It’s a case of what the family is calling “disrespecting the dead,” reports CBS 2’s John Slattery.

Martha and Ronald Wimmer think that the photographing and posting of their daughter’s brutalized body is just more than they can stand.

“This is on the second anniversary of our daughter’s death. I just want to get by, day by day,” Martha Wimmer said.

Her daughter, 26-year-old Caroline Wimmer, was strangled with an electric cord. The convicted killer, Calvin Lawson, got 25 to life. One of the first on the scene, former emergency medical technician Mark Musarella, used his cell phone camera to snap a grisly photo of the corpse, which he then uploaded to Facebook. He pleaded guilty to official misconduct and lost his job.

A civil suit now names Musarella and Facebook.

“I found my daughter. I seen what she looked like. She was horrible. And I know that people at night are looking at it,” Ronald Wimmer said.

Because Facebook is a not-for-profit community bulletin board, it’s protected by a 1996 law, The Communications Decency Act, that gives the social networking giant immunity. The Wimmers’ attorney said what Facebook did was wrong.

“Just like a jewelry store cannot resell stolen property, neither can Facebook,” attorney Ravi Batra said.

The victim’s older sister was equally upset.

“Of the pictures on Facebook … for anyone to see, it kills me,” Christina Criscitiello said.

Later this week a bill is expected to be introduced in Albany that will attempt to reign in the broad immunity Facebook currently enjoys.

A spokesperson from Facebook said, “We haven’t been served or seen the complaint so we have no comment at this time.”

Do you think Facebook should be held liable? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

More from John Slattery
  • Nancy Luna




    • Aaron

      That’s just plain ridiculous. You are an idiot.

    • Hp Loveshaft


      That statement is completely and utterly asinine. That’s like saying Johannes Gutenberg is responsible for anyone who has ever committed libel using the medium of the printed page.

      The dirtbag who took the photos and posted them is the one who is legally and morally liable. Facebook is only named in the suit because of their deep pockets (yet, this story refers to Facebook as “non-profit”…really?!?).

      • C Pace Lattin

        No, its not a non-profit

  • Matt

    Facebook didn’t do anything you idiots. Talk about just trying to get a payday. Sue the guy who did it. Oh what, he doesn’t have billions of dollars like Facebook?

  • nee

    What would be reason to post those pictures,that is totallly disrespect to the family. Does Facebook have any rules of what can and cannot be posted ? What the hell was the paramedic thinks of. Would he like one of his family members display on social site like that.

  • Rowdy Boots

    Let me get this straight:

    If a creep murders someone in a restaurant, the restaurant is liable?

    Is Facebook responsible for everything on its site?


  • Angela

    When a “Cracka Nation” page was created on Facebook, they took it down immediately. SOmeone posted it again, they took it down again. When some one created a Draw Muhammad page, they took it down immediately, and so on; however, they left up a F#*k the Troops page Facebook did nothing, and now this. What the article does not say is whether the photos and the page were taken down, and if they were, when.

    If Facebook refused to take donw the page, yes, i believe there is a case; but if they took down the page upon learning of the photos, than I don’t think they have anything.

  • Let George Do It

    The word is “Grisly”, grizzly is the name of a bear….jesus.

  • Lee Yarbrough

    This suit I hate to say is about money. FaceBook did not publish the photo. I am sure once they where notified they even removed it.

    Sue the people responsible. The law will be on the side of FaceBook on this case and you are wasting their time and yours. It is all about getting press for you and your attorney by filling this suit. Your attorney either does know or should know he has no case with FaceBook. The attorney should be sanctioned for his actions.

    I feel sorry for what happen to your daughter but don’t lash out like this and make yourself look like a money grubbing fool.

    • Jason

      Make up your mind: is it about money or publicity? I guess reading one article on the case qualifies you as an expert on the case. Hold your tongue, fool.

  • Vienna Joe

    Why is the story referring to N.Y.P.D. Emergency Service Unit Police Officer Mark Musarella (pictured in his E.S.U. uniform) as an “E.M.T.” or a “Paramedic”? He may have had those certifications, but he is a police officer.

  • AmericanPatriot1970

    You are an idiot. You probably have no friends of your own, and spend all day in your Mom’s basement trolling the internet to make comments like you just posted. I use Facebook; I am NOT a child molester. I have a life, I have friends, I have a good job. Most in my family use Facebook as well; but I guess my sister is a child molester, so is my Dad, so is my boss at work, so are all of my friends, right?

    Honestly, the only LOSER here is you; you obviously have no life. In fact, it is probably YOU that is more likely to be a child molester, since you are so quick to try and deflect the light so it will ‘shine’ on someone else….

  • Tyler

    facebook should be no more culpible for what its users post than comcast for transmitting the bits

  • John Blankenship

    That’s silly. Seriously, if you feel it’s an invasion of privacy, sue the person who violated your rights, not the company that allowed him to do so. That’s like suing the Department of Transportation because someone committed a crime on THEIR roads.

    But props to the EMT for promoting transparency. Perhaps Facebook was not the proper venue, but that kind of gruesome gore should be available for all to see. It helps cut down some of the media glorification of violence, and I think it sends a more realistic message to kids than television or movies.

    • Melissa Todd

      The EMT has no money but Facebook that is another story.

    • David Kern

      This is off topic but i played rugby in Doylestown Pa. with a John Blankenship in the late 80’s. Wouldn’t happen to be you would it?

      • MikeMNYC

        David, check on Facebook!

  • rider237

    i fail to see how facebook is to blame? they provide a place for people to post stuff. people post stuff. do they have a policy to police all the stuff that is posted? i understand that they will take down some things that are reported as offensive. that seems fair enough. is it their job to search for, and then make a determination on, offensive material? seems like it would restrict material unnecessarily.
    i understand the pain of the family, but this feels like a deep pockets move….

  • Bruce Ferguson

    The paramedic should find another line of work. Obviously, he enjoys the gruesome side of his work a little too much . . . at the expense of greiving family and friends.

  • Lori

    Facebook can’t be responsible for content that is uploaded. However, once they are notified of something like this after the fact, yes … I do think they should do the right thing and remove this.

  • john

    No more lawyers! We have 10X the amount as Japan! Go produce something!

  • Miguel

    Facebook needs to pay millions for it’s vicious and heartless behavior. The facebook operatives cannot hide behind their positions, in fact they should be sued separately and additionally for their callus behavior, and for their trying to hide behind facebook’s fake position of irresponsibility. Just as everything is always somewhere, even if we cannot find it, responsibility is always there even if facebook and Hollywood seek to evade their responsibilities.

    • Alex Smelgus

      Ahahahahaha, Need more trolls like you sir, quite the laugh :)

  • mike

    I was unaware that FB was a nonprofit company….

  • steve

    Cha-ching!!! Just as disgusting as publsihing the photo is tha parent’s trying to profit from it…Disgusting!

    • lawyer for a day

      right on!!

    • Logical Lola

      I don’t think the family is trying to profit from this as much as trying to force Facebook to have some standards so that some other family doesn’t have to suffer the same fate. I certainly wouldn’t want a photo like that published if it were my family member.

      • Gremlin5

        I couldn’t agree more, and I would be very outspoken about how Facebook’s right to do this should be protected.

        I would then make sure everyone possible knew that Facebook gloried death with their God given freedom placing “placed advertising ads” on the internet.

        And Facebook’s paid for placement ads suck so you would naturally only place with sites that are relevant.

        Poor commercia performance combined with a ghoulishly matter of fact attitude about a young lady who was most likely a Facebook fan or user is not the kind of service advertisers want to do business with. Unless they eat puppies. then all bets are off.

  • Michael Hilton

    With all due respect (definitely ALL) you’re making use right now of an option much like you’re denigrating. I have NO sympathy for the jerk who posted the photos, but yours is nothing but a cheap shot.

  • beatrix

    I think CBS New York should learn to spell. I) It’s “grisly,” not “grizzly,” when you’re talking about blood rather than bears. 2) It’s not “reign in,” it’s “rein in,” as in slowing down a horse by pulling in its reins.

    • TheMadKing

      beatrix, It’s the a) decline of Western civilization, b) the decline of the American education system. Or c) both. If the person who wrote this is a college graduate, that does not bode well.

    • Robert

      Kudos to you!

    • lawyer for a day

      uh, it is not proper to place a period at the end of a dependent clauses. Ghastly errors from braggadocios bore me.

      • Frank R

        “at the end of a dependent clauses. Ghastly errors from braggadocios bore me.”

        That would be “a dependent clause”.

  • Joe

    Money makes the world go round, the world go round, the world go round……….

  • Puzzled

    How is Facebook a “not for profit” site if it’s owner made a vast fortune – off of Facebook? He obviously profited somehow. I

    • Ben Dover Plains

      And they also have advertising and make revenue from it.

  • Bernie

    This is truly an extreme example of disgusting and unprofessional conduct from the paramedic.
    He personally should face any penalty the law allows.
    Facebook however is not libel in my opinion.
    Facebook was created for 2 purposes.
    1 generate a profit, as all business’s do
    2 provide an exceptional service, Evidenced by the bazillions of users
    It is what it is, one big bulletin board. Lets be careful not to condemn a truely remarkable social media based on the small percentage of less than honorable users.
    My thoughts and prayers go out to that girls father, I would be inconsolable.
    God bless

  • T

    If once can raise case about disrespecting the dead, Westboro Baptist Church ought be on the receiving end of a class-action lawsuit.

    • sharon barnes

      Well said!

  • joebob

    yes, and they can post child pornography, gay sex, anything else, so why not Dead bodies.

    Well done there Zuckerberg.

    IDIOTS Facebook Does provide a venue,and thus is…. liable.

    • Eric

      Read the Communications Decency Act… you are wrong. Facebook is not responsible for what others publish on their website.

      “no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” 47 U.S.C. § 230(c)(1)

  • Bloomyz&ass

    WHy is the cop’s photo posted, I thought that I read that it was an EMS worker that posted the photos.

    • Jeff Rosen

      I was wondering about that also. If he was convicted of official misconduct there is no way he could have been hired by the NYPD.

      • Donna

        He’s retired NYPD–old photo.

    • Daniel A Hunt

      That is a paramedic. DUH

  • Jeff Rosen

    Just to add to my below post (as I clicked submit too fast) I’ve seen pictures of corpses just as bad published in the press. If the EMT was arrested how about newspaper photographers and editors??

    • Gremlin5

      “I’ve seen pictures of corpses just as bad published in the press”

      Just today in the murder victims bodies in the Afghanistan civilian slaughter for example

      But Rolling Stone is an activist magazine that has a clear cut mission path… to make our troops look terrible so it is to be expected

      Facebook is a social outlet that is free to use.

      This guy is obviously a sociopath.

      Could I walk around downtown with an A frame sign with big pictures of a dead girl horribly brutalized?

      Is that free speech? Since when is this guy a member of the press exposing something awful?

      That’s like playing with squirrel guts at the family reunion picnic.

  • Jeff Rosen

    There is no way Facebook can screen all of the millions of photos every day. I also can’t see how the EMT was arrested. What he did was extreme bad taste but not a crime. I could see him get fired if this was against job regulations but a crime??

    • Daniel A Hunt

      As a medical professional,an EMS worker is bound by LAW to keep patient information confidential. Even if the patient is dead and/or dies

  • Big Bear

    They are only suing Facebook because of the potential for money.

    • xschild

      This happens everywhere. Before parents or family memebers are notified of the demise of loved ones, insensitive people snap and post pictures. It is a big complaint in our area. The local law inforcement say they cannot properly and by law notify families because it is already posted on facebook. Especially horrific automobile wrecks.

  • Brett

    way to try and profit off your daughters death

  • David Cearley

    I’m sure Facebook pulled the pic as soon as they knew about it, so what is the family sueing for?

  • B P

    Turn off the internet. I think the switch is on the wall over there…

  • InBus F Good

    FB a non profit community bulletin board. Now I’ve heard everything.

    • Paul G. Newton

      i agree… not for profit… yeah and Donald Trump doesn’t want to make a scene.

  • Zero Tolerance

    Photos taken by a guy named Mozzarela would certainly end in a big pizza! I think these parents found a way to try to make money out of the corpse. Americans are lawsuit addicted these days…

  • SCB

    he made a conscious decision to put the photo on facebook, facebook is not to blame.

  • Emlee

    Amazes me that some people are so clueless that they think Facebook knows what is in every photo posted….

  • peteny

    We need to shut down the internet for all intents and purposes. Email should be administered by the USPS but only with positive ID and a small fee. Gov domains could remain but no others. My heart goes out to this family and the countless others whose lives have been ruined by Facebook. Facebook kills.

    • Frank R

      Who is “we”?

      You can shut down your own internet. Thankfully in the United States of America, at least for now, I can choose when, how, and with whom I communicate.

    • Daniel A Hunt

      Yeah…GREAT idea….eliminate constitutionally protected free speech. You DO realise that you wouldnt be able to read or post to this story if the internet was shut off. Seems I heard of a certian president that wants to do the same thing…you didnt vote for the Kenyan-in-chief did you?

    • Commie Pig

      Big Brother !! Cool idea but it’ll never happen.

  • LOL

    Ambulance chasing lawyer hard at work!

    • David Shyster

      This is not a personal injury case, the ambulance chasing metaphor doesn’t apply.

  • Sandy Underpants

    Does anyone have a link to the pic?

  • B

    Facebook is to blame. If they can catch and edit something in the story listed below then they could have caught this.

    • Fauge

      These were taken down because someone saw them and reported them. Facebook has a link to do this, if this photo was reported as inappropriate it would be removed. There is no possible way any company could review each of the millions of photos posted daily.

  • Chris @ Austin

    Yes sue Facebook. They should also sue the Internet for allowing this material to be posted to the World Wide Web. Since Al Gore created the internet he should be the one who gets sued. They could also sue portals to the internet, Microsoft Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. My comment is absurd as this lawsuit.

  • samuel9

    Facebook is not responsible for content thats put on by someone. They have no control over it .

  • commenter

    If Facebook does not wish to set guidelines as to what is appropriate for people to post then perhaps they should be forced to set a minimum age of 18 and display a notice upon entering the site of the possibility of encountering inappropriate, maybe even graphic, photos.

  • Rocco

    What? How is facebook liable? What exactly did they do? Then if all pictures are subject to approval before posting, you will sue them for violating freedom of speech. Sue, sue, sue.

    • morag

      First off the isn’t a freedom of speech issue since the government isn’t forcing Facebook to remove pictures. As far as Facebook being non profit that is nice but it’s still valued in excess of 30 million. I would agree that Facebook should be sues only if they failed to remove pictures immediately after notification of those graphic photos. To repeat, Facebook is a private entity so they can restrict whatever content they wish.

      • C Pace Lattin

        Facebook is a for-profit corporation.

  • Danielle

    There is no way FB could control what people post unless they disable the photo feature completely. The EMT made a horrid decision to post the photo. The EMT, therefore, should reap the punishment.

  • Keren

    Absolutely NOT. Facebook cannot control (nor should they) everything that gets posted. This action was perpetrated by one man and he has been punished. Justice served. The scene would have been shown trial. My sincere condolences to the family. Truly callous behavior by EMT.

  • decalman

    yes facebook should share the punishment,the person who posted the pictures is an idiot,I mean what was he thinking?,Facebook should set guidelines and rules on what is an appropriate post,there are young children using Facebook they see everything an adult sees.I use Facebook on occasion because it seems like one of the only ways to keep in touch with family,personally I don’t need it, I think it’s a complete waste of time.And I’m glad I didn’t see the photo.My deepest sympathy goes out to Carolines family,it’s just a horrible thing.

    • disco

      your an idiot…how is facebook going to monitor every picture posted? If they refused to take it down once they were notified, totally different story, but as soon as they were made aware, they removed it. If you have a method on how they can screen the millions of photos posted per day, I’m, sure they would be more than happy to hear it.

  • Authorized User

    “A bill will be introduced in Albany later this week, attempting to reign in the broad immunity Facebook currently enjoys.”

    What?? Broad immunity? What the heck does that mean? Facebook committed no crime. No crime. Zero crime. The analogy to the jewelry store is idiotic. Yes, it’s terrible that the paramedic did this, but how is it Facebook’s fault? I’m sure they removed the image once they were made aware.

    What’s next? Close down Smith and Wesson because someone got murdered using one of their guns? Shut down GM if someone gets hit by a car and dies?

    Seriously. Get real. The paramedic was fired. Punishment served.

  • karen s

    facebook should never have posted the pictures. there should have been more of a punishment the the ex-emt, a disgrace to his profession, and well his colleagues are to be rid of him. there was no redeeming value to the crime scene photo of a murder victim to going viral. spare me any remote reference to freedom of speech/expression. tho it’s hard to prove in some jurisdictions, emotional distress comes to mind as one way to go after facebook and musarella. this is not one of those “right to know” events. justice for the deceased and her family!

    • d

      Yeah Facebook only has 2 or 3 comments to check out total systemwide and stuff so they should have been on top of this

    • Klaus Cook

      Facebook did not post the pic, the EMT did, he got his punishment, case closed.

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