WASHINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – A Maryland man was arrested Friday on a federal criminal complaint charging him with cyberstalking a Dallas-based news reporter.
John Rayne Rivello, 29, of Salisbury, Maryland, was arrested in Maryland on a criminal complaint filed in the Northern District of Texas.
According to the allegations in the affidavit filed with the complaint, on Dec. 15, 2016, the victim, Kurt Eichenwald, a writer for Newsweek who is known to suffer from epilepsy, received a message via Twitter from Rivello.
The tweet contained an animated strobe image embedded with the statement, “You deserve a seizure for your post.” Upon viewing the flashing strobe image the victim immediately suffered a seizure.
Additionally, according to the affidavit, evidence received pursuant to a search warrant showed Rivello’s Twitter account contained direct messages from Rivello’s account to other Twitter users concerning the victim. Among those direct messages included statements by Rivello, including “I hope this sends him into a seizure,” “Spammed this at [victim] let’s see if he dies,” and “I know he has epilepsy.”
Additional evidence received pursuant to a search warrant showed Rivello’s iCloud account contained a screenshot of a Wikipedia page for the victim, which had been altered to show a fake obituary with the date of death listed as Dec. 16, 2016. Rivello’s iCloud account also contained screen shots from epilepsy.com with a list of commonly reported epilepsy seizure triggers and from dallasobserver.com discussing the victim’s report to the Dallas Police Department and his attempt to identify the Twitter user.
The FBI and the Dallas Police Department investigated the case. The Maryland State Police and Ocean City Police Department assisted during the arrest.
Eichenwald tweeted earlier: “I want to thank Dallas Police, Dallas D-A, U-S Attorney in Dallas, the F-B-I & the Dept of Homeland Security who all played a role in this case.”