Last year around this time, as members of the Miami Heat were embroiled in what turned out to be a second consecutive NBA-championship run, we reported that an Internet Crimes Against Children investigation targeting Chris "Birdman" Andersen was still open a full year after authorities had raided his Larkspur home. It wasn't until the following September that the former Denver Nugget was officially cleared, with authorities confirming that he'd been the victim of a bizarre, double-Catfish scheme allegedly perpetrated by a Canadian woman named Shelly Lynne Chartier.
Now, with the Heat set to kick off its quest for a third straight NBA crown against the San Antonio Spurs tonight, a new report provides the most details yet about Chartier's twisted Internet manipulations and the terrible effect they've had on Andersen's life.
On May 10, 2012, as we've reported, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office put out a press release confirming that its Internet Crimes Against Children unit had "executed a search warrant at Christopher C. Andersen (33 YO) residence in Larkspur CO." The narrative noted that the ICAC "began investigating Andersen in February 2012 in reference to information that was provided by a law enforcement agency in California," adding, "DCSO has recovered property from the residence that we believe is connected to this case."
Afterward, attorney Colin Bresee asserted Andersen's innocence of any crime and claimed he was actually the person who'd been wronged. Beginning in 2010, Bresee said Andersen had received numerous letters, some featuring racy photos, from a female fan claiming to be 21 years old; she was later identified as aspiring model Paris Roxanne, who was then seventeen. The following year, she flew to Colorado, "showing her required identification," according to a statement he provided to the Denver Post. When she left, she allegedly was upset by Andersen's lack of interest in her, and by 2012, "she threatened to retaliate if he did not provide financial remuneration" -- bounty represented by someone claiming to be her mother as items on her Amazon and Victoria's Secret wish lists plus $5,000 in cash.
The key word in the previous sentence is "claiming," as is spelled out in fascinating detail by "The Birdman's Vengeful Ghost" by Newsweek's Flinder Boyd. The person impersonating the young woman's mom was allegedly Chartier, who Boyd describes as "a 29-year-old recluse with a sixth-grade education" who even those close to her family couldn't remember leaving the Manitoba house she shares with her chronically arthritic mother since age twelve or thirteen before she was hauled off by Canadian authorities to face assorted Internet-related charges in early 2013.
The manner in which Chartier allegedly messed with Andersen was so complex that it took investigators month after month of intense work to unravel. Here's how Boyd sums it up:
Chartier had set up a bogus Facebook profile as Andersen, then received a message from Roxanne. Chartier responded as if she were Andersen, then set up a fake Roxanne profile to communicate with Andersen. This is where things got complicated and sinister. Both Andersen and Roxanne believed they were sending each other Facebook messages and starting an intimate relationship, but their messages were being triangulated through Chartier's fake profile pages. Think of Chartier as a devious and malicious post office. Every message between Andersen and Roxanne was filtered through her computer, which meant she could manipulate any of their messages. And she did. Often.
Chartier didn't only focus her attention on Andersen. Newsweek's Boyd lists numerous other quasi-famous celebrity victims -- and a twisted and scattershot assembly it is.
Continue for more about the double-Catfish scheme that ensnared Chris "Birdman" Andersen, including plenty of photos. Other alleged Chartier victims named by Boyd include 2012 Playboy Playmate of the Year Jaclyn Swedberg....
...stand-up comic Joe Santagato....
...The Hills personality and Kardashian relation Brody Jenner....
...and MMA ring girl turned Sons of Anarchy actress Natalie Skyy:
These efforts weren't necessarily independent of each other. For instance, authorities believe Chartier contrived to create a fake web relationship between Jenner and Skyy.
When Chartier will finally go on trial for her various activities is unknown at this point: Boyd writes that weather delays and the intricacies of the case probably mean proceedings won't get underway until 2015 at the earliest. In the meantime, Chartier is back at home, although with no Internet access by court order.
Andersen, for his part, is a key component of the Heat's campaign to three-peat as NBA kings -- something no squad has done since the 2000-2002 Los Angeles Lakers. But the ordeal has left a mark on him every bit as indelible as the many tattoos that cover him. Boyd writes:
Away from the court the once-flamboyant extrovert remains haunted by his harrowing ordeal. He has mostly avoided children's homes and hospitals. He recently sold his house in Larkspur and moved to a place even more secluded. His lawyer says that in a bizarre twist, he's now taking on some of the traits of the woman who tormented him. "He's become a recluse."
To read Boyd's article in its entirety (which we highly recommend), click here. Look below at a Birdman photo gallery from his time in Denver, when "recluse" is the last way anyone would have described him.
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More from our Sports archive: "Photos: Chris 'Birdman' Andersen goodbye even though he's still on Nuggets?"