KLAMATH FALLS, Oregon - Most of the women who had agreed to travel to Gerald Krein's trailer to disrobe, share intimacies with him, and then hang themselves said they changed their minds as soon as they saw his photo on the Web. Krein, 26, had been pimping the suicide idea in a Yahoo chatroom, and police estimate that nearly three dozen women had signed up for his Club Dead cruise, which had been scheduled for Valentine's Day.
"He didn't look anything like I had pictured him," said Venessa Dupris, 31, of Redmond, Washington. Dupris, a "telemarketing professional," said Krein had described himself online as a "tousle-haired George Clooney type, but when I saw the police photo on the Web, I thought he looked like your average Mr. Lonely Hands who still lives with his parents."
Krein, who does indeed live with his parents, was arrested last Friday after a Toronto woman had alerted authorities to his suicide scheme. At the time of his arrest, police thought Krein wanted the women to commit suicide at home and to broadcast the festivities via Web cams. Upon further investigation, however, they learned that Krein had invited the women to his parents' trailer to commit suicide up close and personal.
"He told me his parents worked late on Mondays, so there'd be plenty of time for us to chill before I hanged myself," said Trish Loganberry, a "thirty-something-ish" cocktail waitress from Omaha, Nebraska. "He also said people often told him he looked like a young Al Pacino. He wishes! When I saw his mug shot, I said, I'm not shaving my legs and blowing my frequent flyer miles on that guy.'"
Loganberry's comments were echoed by every woman on Krein's list whom police have been able to contact. "He just wasn't enough bang for the bother," said a Las Vegas casino hostess. "He didn't look at all like Russell Crowe."
"I think suicide with someone you trust is a beautiful thing," said a yoga instructor from Taos, New Mexico. "But if the trust isn't there, you're just another crossbeam ornament."
Although police haven't been able to contact all the women on Krein's list, they have put a twenty-four-hour watch on his parent's trailer. They have also alerted hardware stores in the greater Klamath Falls metropolitan area to report any sad-looking women who buy clothes rope and then ask the clerk to explain how to tie a hangman's knot.
Yesterday Sgt. Darryl Bedlington of the Klamath Falls police truth-in-advertising unit told reporters that Krein had been charged with thirty-two counts of lying in the solicitation of a harmful act. He is also charged with misrepresentation of facial characteristics in the attempt to suborn suicide.
In related news, police reported that Krein's scheme may have claimed one victim: a forty-seven-year-old Wal-Mart clerk in St. Louis who became so despondent when she found out what Krein really looked like that she shot herself.