Felon Places Personal Ad On Web
15 March 2005
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A man serving six consecutive life sentences for rapes in Gainesville and murder of a 12-year-old Bradford County girl is running a personal ad on the Internet to try and find true love.
Michael Knickerbocker, 33, pleaded no contest last week to the 1989 rape and murder of Megan Renaud, whose body was found in a wooded area not far from where she lived. He was already serving five life sentences for sexual assault.
Now, more than 15 years after Renaud’s murder, Knickerbocker is using a Web site to make amends for his “bad choices” and solicit a “special person who can enjoy the small things in life, forgive the past and enjoy today as a new day.”
TranscendTheWalls.net — the site that published Knickerbocker’s ad — was created to help inmates make connections with people “outside the walls,” as the home page contends. But Bill Cervone, a prosecutor in the state attorney’s office who tried the case against Knickerbocker, is not convinced.
“First of all, his history certainly belies any of that being true,” Cervone said. “Second, it’s no different than you read on a lot of meet people sites, if people puff themselves up and create an image that’s so far from reality that anybody who buys off on it is asking for trouble.”
“Handsome man with gorgeous blue eyes and a sweet personality! I am 33 years old and have spent my entire adult life in prison for the errors of my youth.” – Michael Knickerbocker’s online personal ad
Although the Web site that promotes Knickerbocker’s ad “represents the hope” its creators have for him and the more-than-six-dozen inmates it features, Cervone believes Knickerbocker’s interest is anything but sincere.
“Inmates do a lot of things just because they have time on their hands,” he said. “And they have nothing
better to do than to come up with weird things like this.”
Cervone was not aware if the Renauds were told of Knickerbocker’s ad, but he told Channel 4’s Jennifer Bauer “that they would be horribly offended.”
Bauer spoke with one member of the Renaud family who did not mince words when it came to Knickerbocker.
“Hopefully, he dies a painful death in prison somewhere,” said Jon Renaud, Megan’s brother.
Florida penal codes forbid inmates from soliciting relationships of any kind over the Internet, and violators are subject to disciplinary action. Still, it hasn’t seemed to deter Knickerbocker or the rest of the inmates featured on TranscendTheWalls.net.
“It happens more than we know,” Cervone said.