Speed Reads

Cyber Crime

Woman identified on television as being an online troll found dead

An English woman accused of posting thousands of abusive messages online about the parents of a missing girl was found dead in a hotel room Saturday.

On Thursday, Brenda Leyland, a 63-year-old housewife from the village of Burton Overy, Leicestershire, was confronted by a reporter from Sky News, who asked her if she was one of the trolls on Twitter harassing the parents of Madeleine McCann, the young girl who disappeared in 2007 while on a family vacation in Portugal. "I'm entitled to do that," she said.

Now deleted, the Twitter handle thought to be Leyland's (@sweepyface) sent thousands of tweets about the missing girl, the BBC reports. One tweet said, "#mccann To Kate and Gerry, you will be hated by millions for the rest of your miserable, evil, conniving lives, have a nice day!"

Both Kate and Gerry McCann have been cleared by police of being involved in the disappearance of their daughter. They have 9-year-old twins who they say are also being abused online. Before Leyland's death, Gerry McCann told the BBC: "Clearly something needs to be done about the abuse on the internet. I think we probably need more people charged."

Police say Leyland's death is not being treated as suspicious.