The Instagram account Humans of New York features intimate stories told by people all over the world, which has earned it a devout fanbase. But on Tuesday, followers were disturbed when HONY posted a grim feature on a man who admitted to lighting an innocent person on fire.
The man, who was photographed in Montreal, Canada, doesn't show his face, only his hands on piano keys. During his interview with photographer Brandon Stanton, who operates under the HONY moniker, he divulged the traumatic experiences he suffered as a child and how they have impacted him as an adult.
“You could make a horror movie about my life. My mom died of cancer when I was five, and my father tortured me. I mean tortured. Really tortured. Chained me to a chair. Slapped me with leather. It was like Jack Nicholson in ‘The Shining.’ Every single day. He’d never say a thing. He’d just kick down my door and come after me. I was born into hell. I spent twelve years alone with a demonic presence. And now I’m nervous. Really nervous. I play the piano to calm myself down. I always have these thoughts they aren’t even my thoughts: fat fuckers, fucking bastards, fuck all of them. They’re my father’s thoughts. The violence is inside of me. My energy is black, black, black. I used to kill little birds when I was a kid. Then I moved on to cats. By the time I was seventeen I was beating the shit out of everybody. Bigger than me, taller than me, I didn’t care. It was more torture to keep it inside. If I kept the violence inside I’d mutilate myself. Suicide myself. A few years ago I set a guy on fire. It was 3 AM. He was passed out beneath a bridge. Just some druggie. I didn’t feel a thing. I felt like laughing. If anything, I felt free.” (Montreal, Canada)
Followers of the widely-circulated account took to the comments section to air their concerns, one of whom said "that's text book serial killers" and Stanton would be doing a "disservice to the public" should he not report the man. Others voiced similar urges, informing Stanton he's "obligated" to go to the police.
Many of those concerned over the man's confession took to Twitter to question HONY's decision to feature his story.
One woman called on the Montreal Police Department to respond to the story.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, a spokesperson for the SPVM said that although they have been alerted of the man's confession, there's no evidence that the incident happened. "After verification, no such event has happened in Montreal over the last few years and no complaint has been filed about it," they said.