Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Internet Assisted Suicide - The Story of Sharon Lopatka

Breaking Away

Sharon Denburg was the oldest of four daughters born to Mr. and Mrs. Abraham J. Denburg in 1961. The family lived in a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland. Sharon Denburg’s parents were devout Orthodox Jews, who were active in the Beth Tfiloh Congregation. Abraham Denburg was, in fact, a cantor at Beth Tfiloh, Baltimore’s largest Orthodox Jewish synagogue. His daughter Sharon had been active in sports, sang in the school choir and perceived by classmates to be “as normal as you can get,” wrote the North Carolina News & Observer on November 3, 1996.

Sharon Lopatka, victim
Sharon Lopatka,
In 1991, Sharon married Victor, a Catholic and an Ellicott City, Maryland, construction worker. Sharon’s parents did not approve of the marriage. A former high school classmate told the Washington Post on November 3, 1996, that the marriage was Sharon’s “way of breaking away.” Sharon moved with her husband to a small, ranch-style tract house in Hampstead, Maryland, in the early 1990s. They had no children.

Sharon began several small Internet business ventures from her home to make some extra money. In her business, “Classified Concepts,” she rewrote ad copy for advertisers for $50 per ad. She also operated several other Web sites, where she sold psychic readings and advice. On the sites, Sharon would also post ads selling other services, with a 1-900 number, for which she would receive a percentage of the revenue. Another way she made money was by advertising pornographic videos.

Under the pseudonym Nancy Carlson, Sharon sold videos of unconscious women having sexual intercourse. According to the Augusta Chronicle on November 4, 1996, one excerpt from her ad from October 1, 1996, stated that she had, “Just made a video of actual women...willing and unwilling to be...knocked out...drugged...under hypnosis and chloroformed.” Sharon even went so far as to advertise her own undergarments online, which read, “Is there anyone out there interested in buying my worn panties...” Sharon had no qualms about advertising and selling products that would appeal to the lurid sexual fantasies and fetishes of her customers. She also had her own risqué sexual fantasies that she actively sought to fulfill.



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