The 14-year-old son of a millionaire London oil trader was stabbed to death after going to see a man he met on the internet, it was revealed today.
Breck Bednar is understood to have told his father he was going for a sleepover at a friend’s near his home in Caterham, Surrey. But he travelled two hours by train to Grays in Essex to meet a person he thought he had become friends with online.
Police found him the following morning. He was given first aid but died soon afterwards. A post mortem revealed he had died from a neck wound.
Breck’s father Barry today paid tribute to his “happy, gentle and smart boy”. Mr Bednar was standing in the driveway of their home before being collected by Essex police and driven with Breck’s mother Lorin LaFave to identify the body.
He said Breck was “excited” after returning from a school trip, adding: “I last saw him on Sunday. He was a happy, gentle and smart boy. He had been in Spain for 10 days and he was excited to see us and be home again.”
Mr Bednar, an oil futures trader, and Ms LaFave are both Americans.
Relatives in the US last night flew to London to be with them. Breck’s aunt described the boy as “absolutely wonderful” and said his death was a “senseless, disgusting tragedy”.
Speaking from her home in Michigan, Lisa Barth, who is Ms LaFave’s sister, told the Standard: “It’s devastating, it’s a devastating tragedy and we are so broken. Hold your babies close and pray for the family.
“We don’t know anything. I only know the report that he was stabbed to death. We’re going to have to get the facts from the parents or the police. We’re grieving terribly.
“We’re praying my sister, his father and whole family can get through this. We’re just focused on getting to our family, hugging them and praying for them. Breck was absolutely wonderful. Just a little boy. What happened to him is a senseless, disgusting tragedy.”
Mr Bednar, 49, originally from Houston, was managing director of brokers BGC Partners before going on to run a series of companies, the most recent being Rubicon Oil Brokers. Breck’s mother, 47, who went to Michigan State University, is a regular at St John the Evangelist church in Caterham.
She worked for clothing companies before becoming a governor and teaching assistant at St John’s C of E Primary School. The family own properties in London and in Caterham.
Rev Jeremy Garton, of St John’s church, said: “These are tragic circumstances and we are doing everything we can do to support the family at this difficult time.”
Details of how Breck apparently went to meet a man emerged in a message posted on Facebook.
The message, from someone claiming to be his cousin on the Aylesbury Grapevine page, described Breck as “an incredibly smart, funny, and cute 14-year-old boy” who found it difficult to make friends and “turned to his computer and the internet for entertainment”.
The message continued: “He loved to play video games and may have even been a bit addicted to them. He ended up meeting someone who he thought wanted to be his friend. Not having very many friends, if any, Breck immediately attached to this relationship.
“Breck became distant, stopped going to church and quit his extra-curricular altogether. His family was concerned, but didn’t think much of it. They tried talking to him and helping him to no avail.
“Two nights ago, Breck told his father that he was going to a friend’s house for a sleepover a couple of streets away. This wasn’t a huge concern for his parents. He ended up taking a train down to Essex, about two hours away to meet a man he had been talking to over the internet.
Early the next morning, the police found his body.” Police refused to comment on the internet link. A picture for the popular video game Battlefield 4 was posted on Breck’s Google+ account and Facebook pages. The game is a first-person “shoot-em-up” in which players can compete and interact with others online.
Pupils at St Bede’s Christian comprehensive school in Redhill, Surrey, where Breck was a pupil, were left stunned by his death.
One, tweeting under the name “hannah”, wrote: “RIP Breck, you will be missed by so many! I can’t believe this has happened to someone in my year. Thoughts are with your family.”
Lewis Daynes, 18, of Grays, has been charged with murder. He appeared before Basildon magistrates today and spoke only to confirm his name, address and date of birth. No plea was entered and he was remanded in custody to appear at Chelmsford crown court tomorrow