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Family gets hateful email about son with brain cancer

Son has brain cancer.
Son has brain cancer.
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Updated: 8/20/2013 3:06 pm
ATLANTA (WSB-TV) -- Channel 2 Action News is searching for the source of several hateful emails sent to local families struggling with sick children.

So far those emails have been impossible to trace, but one mother hopes getting them out there helps soften the blow for other families in the same boat.

Music and Matchbox cars help 6-year-old Brayden Martin get by.

"We are faced with it all the time of this being a possibility that we might lose our children," said Brayden's mother, Maranda.

Brayden has been battling brain cancer since he was 2 years old -- traumatic enough for his mother, let alone the random anonymous email she got during one recent hospital trip that said, "I am so sorry to hear that Braden (sic) is now laying stiff in a freezer in the morgue."

"It was awful," Martin said. "I was immediately sick to my stomach."
Martin soon learned other families with sick children got equally horrific emails saying they're children would be "…eaten by maggots" and "…your child will soon be dead." "I was wondering what we had done to someone to make them so upset with us that would want to hurt us that badly?" Martin said.

One common denominator among the families is the popular social network CaringBridge. There are privacy settings, but Brayden's page was open to the public, including Martin's personal email address.

"The reason the email is on there is so that people can contact me because we do need help," Martin explained.

Cyber security experts call it "griefing."

"It's just the Internet's equivalent of a psychopath," said Don Jackson of Dell SecureWorks.

Jackson said griefers troll the Internet for the purpose of causing people needless pain.

"You have a certain group of people that are going to do it just for fun, no matter what," Jackson said. "The Internet gives them kind of a sense of anonymity."

And while there's no way to know if that griefer got the families' contact info off from CaringBridge, Martin just wants the emails to stop.

"You have no idea how badly it hurts to picture your child this way," Martin said.

CaringBridge Vice President of Marketing Amy Bay Robinson told Channel 2 Action News that users are required to set their own privacy settings and the company never sells or gives out users' personal information.

Meanwhile, Martin is still searching for clues to whoever sent the emails. Channel 2 Action News is joining that effort and will bring you updates on our progress.

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