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Natel King Didn’t Listen to Advice

Canada- Ontario woman Natel King made fast money in the adult entertainment industry, posing as Taylor Summers on the Internet and appearing in photos and videos.

On March 23, 2004, her body was discovered in a ravine in Pennsylvania, murdered after a photo shoot — possibly the victim of a snuff video.

Natel was born in Long Harbour, Newfoundland, the same place she was laid to rest last spring. Her parents, Danny and Jackie King are typical, salt of the earth islanders, who left their home when she was young and moved to Ontario for work.

At about 18, the free-spirited Natel began dabbling in the adult entertainment industry.

It was simple to get started. She put a camera and a computer in her room and suddenly the nice girl from Newfoundland was posing nude on the Internet as “Taylor Sumers: nude model: The sexy Canadian.”

It’s easy and tempting money according to Barbara Coffman, a law professor in Toronto who studies pornography and the law.

“Given the kind of Internet technology we now have, it’s very easy for folks to set up their own Web pages, to set up their own video cams if they want to and to literally produce their own sexually explicit images and to market them themselves on their own websites.”

By the time Jackie and Danny King found out, there was no changing their daughter’s mind. They didn’t approve and worried for Natel’s safety, but their warning fell on deaf ears. Blonde and busty, Natel could earn up to $1,000 a day posing nude.

Natel did photo shoots for FCF Agency, which produces photos and videos for the adult entertainment industry and is run by Stephan Sirrard.

At FCF, the rules and procedures insist that photographers be checked out and models be chaperoned. But those rules don’t always suit models. Adult entertainers can double, sometimes triple their money by going out on their own advertising on the Internet and setting up their own gigs.

Natel was one of them. The temptation of big money was too great. She began booking her own shoots and going without a chaperone.

“She wanted to freelance. She wanted the fast cash,” says Sirrard. “She wanted to go to Chicago, to New York, to Boston, shoot one to two hours, come back the same day, have $1,000 or $2,000 in her pocket.

On Feb. 27, 2004, Natel headed out on her way to a gig with a photographer in Pennsylvania. Sirrard says he tried to warn her.

“She said, ‘Somebody contacted me, and I’m going to go there and do the photo shoot.’ And I said, ‘Natal, you don’t know, there’s some weird people out there.’ She said, ‘Oh don’t worry about it, I’ll be fine’.”

On Feb. 29, Natel pulled into Conshohoken, a quiet Pennsylvania community to meet Anthony Fredericks, a 46-year-old photographer who set up a website calling for models.

Natel’s roommate and best friend Curtis Shear knew Natel was headed out of town to a gig. Curtis does modeling too and he knows it’s not safe to travel alone. He’d been Natel’s chaperone many times before. But this time she was in a hurry.

“I was supposed to go with her. I asked her to wait until Monday but she wouldn’t. Because when it came to money and business she wants it now, she wants it her way and that’s it. So she says, ‘I’ll go on my own this time. No big deal.'”

Natel drove to meet Fredericks at a hotel. She signed a deal to do 20 photos including some scenes of bondage for a fee of $900 US.

Fredericks took some shots at the hotel but then told Natel he wanted to do a second shoot at his studio with his assistant, Jennifer Mitkus, 29. Nervous, Natel leaves a phone message for Curtis.

“I checked my answering machine and I had a message from her talking kind of softly like “You’ve got to call me back, something’s kind of weird here,'” he remembers.

Somehow, Natel was convinced and drove to the second shoot at Fredericks’ studio in a house on a quiet residential street. Curtis called back Natel, who is at the studio and sounds anxious.

“She’s like, ‘I’m kind of freaked out.’ And I was like, ‘What are you worried about: not getting paid or getting killed’? I kind of said it jokingly. And she was like, ‘Well, both.’ So I said ‘If you don’t get your money in the next five or 10 minutes then call me back and get the fuck out of there.'”

“I waited maybe an hour and a half, she didn’t call me back. I called her and called her and just called like every 15 or 20 minutes until the next day. And it rang for about a day and a half and then it just stopped ringing.”

Three days passed. Desperate, Curtis contacted Toronto area police for help. The police got in touch with detectives in Conshohoken.

Detectives find Natel’s car parked near Fredericks’ studio. Inside, Natel’s suitcase and laptop, but her purse and toiletries are missing. And so is Natel.

Weeks pass with no phone calls. Her parents grow frantic.

Then, on March 23, 2004, a woman walking along a highway sees something suspicious down an embankment and calls police. District Attorney Bruce Castor and police discover Natel’s body.

“She was almost completely unclothed, but she was covered with what turned out to be the backdrop tarps that a photographer would use to create different backgrounds in a photograph setting,” recounts Castor.

Natel had been stabbed through the neck and had multiple stab wounds on her chest and hands, and sexual paraphernalia attached to her body.

“She had what I later learned was a ball gag around her mouth, like a dog collar, with a pink ball in the centre in her mouth.”

For police, the trail leads back to Fredericks. When he and Mitkus are questioned, they have the same story: Natel got paid $900 for bondage photos and then went to a restaurant. That was the last they saw of her. Police don’t buy it.

“She was found with the ball gag in place and all of this paraphernalia from the shoot. That means they’re lying about her leaving that location alive,” says Castor.

Police get a search warrant for Fredericks’ studio. Inside, they find a paint bucket and a receipt with blood on them, blood that DNA testing proves belonged to Natel King.

On March 28, 2004, police arrest Fredericks and charge him with first and third degree murder, abuse of a corpse and possessing an instrument of crime in connection with the death of Natel King. Jennifer Mitkus is charged with lying to police.

Police also discover more ominous clues, including a handwritten note, a poem that reads: “Cut with a knife, blood does flow, you may bleed out death, coming on slowly.”

“To me, that indicated some the author was uh was obsessed with killing and cutting.” Police also find a blank contract in a camera bag that includes the words: “Snuff Vid.”

“Among the services to be performed, or that we think is indicative of services to be performed, is a list of choices with the word ‘snuff vid,’ indicating to us that one of the services performed by models for his photographic studio was to engage in simulated violent sexual encounters for film,” explains Castor.

Simulated snuff is the shocking extreme of pornography, a simulated murder of a naked and bound woman captured on video. Was Natel King the victim of a sadistic erotic film gone wrong, a fake murder that turned into a real one?

“I haven’t been able to rule out that this was a situation where the simulated violence escalated into real violence and resulted in murder,” says Castor.

Curtis Shear is convinced of something more sinister. He’s certain Natel was tricked, that her death was intentional, all part of a sickening plan.

“I believe that that’s what he brought her there for,” he says. “My thought is that there’s a video out there somewhere. Someone paid big bucks for this.”

Barbara Coffman, the lawyer who studies pornography, says real snuff just does not happen.”We see death all the time in Hollywood and we know that the actor isn’t actually killed and that there’s very little risk to the actor of playing a person who is a murder victim.

“So it’s unclear to me that making the accusation that this was simulated snuff should somehow be explanation enough for why this woman was actually murdered.”

As for Fredericks, earlier this month, prosecutors agreed to drop a first-degree murder charge in exchange for a guilty plea to third-degree murder.

Defence lawyer Richard Winters said Fredericks admitted stabbing King because he did not have enough money to pay her for the shoot.

Prosecutors allege Jennifer Mitkus also stabbed the dead woman and helped clean the murder scene. She is awaiting trial on charges of abuse of a corpse, hindering apprehension and other offences.

 

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