Missouri Teen Commited Suicide an Hour After Someone Tried to Extort Him, Threatened to Leak Private Photos

Evan Boettler
Evan Boettler Facebook

On January 3, Evan Boettler, a 16-year-old Aurora High School sophomore student died by suicide.

Now, investigators believe the Ozark teen's death may have been linked to an extortion attempt.

Boettler was Told to Send Money or They Would Release His Private Photos to Friends, Family

The Aurora-Marionville Police Department and Lawrence County Sheriff's Office released a statement Friday indicating Boettler's suicide stemmed from nefarious circumstances, leading him to take his own life due to the overwhelming pressure of someone threatening to release the teen's private photos.

Investigators said they were able to determine that an hour before Boettler's death, an apparent extortion attempt occurred on one of the teen's social media apps. Boettler was told, according to police, that if he didn't send an undisclosed amount of money, his photos would be released to his family, friends and members of the community.

"They placed Evan under extreme pressure to pay this money and made numerous threats if the money was not paid," Aurora-Marionville Police Chief Wes Coatney said, noting that the teen did not appear to be experiencing depression leading up to his death. "These events are believed to have taken place only hours before Evan took his own life, presumably believing he had no other way out."

Extorters May Have Operated from Outside the United States

Coatney noted that there hasn't been an arrest in connection to the teen's death and that his phone is still being thoroughly examined by investigators in Springfield. There's a possibility, Coatney said, that the extortion may have come from someone operating a social media account from outside the United States.

Law enforcement agencies from around the country have received thousands of reports related to the online extortion of minors, resulting in at least 3,000 victims, primarily boys, according to 2023 FBI report. More than a dozen victims were reported to have died by suicide, according to the Department of Justice.

In May 2022, Ryan Last, a 17-year-old California Boy Scout, committed suicide after a scammer who posed as a girl sought explicit photos from him and then tried to extort him for $5,000 with similar threats of leaking the photos to his friends and family, as previously reported.