While working my way through my X-Files DVDs tonight, I came across an episode from the 6th Season of the show, which is an excellent portrayal of a psychopath using the emerging on-line dating scene in the very early days of the Internet. Playing on human insecurities in order to suck the living life out of them. What makes this episode so interesting is that the writers recognised that psychopaths would have immediately spotted the potential of the Internet from its earliest inception as a means of procuring targets.
In Cleveland, a couple sit talking in a car at night, having met over the internet. The man, the charming and handsome Virgil Incanto (Timothy Carhart), suffocates his overweight date, Lauren, with a gelatinous substance he spits up. The next morning, a policeman finds Lauren's body, covered in the substance.
Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are called in to investigate, as the victim's description seems similar to those of other victims of a lonely hearts killer still at large. Scully attempts to perform an autopsy on Lauren's body, only to find that it has liquified with only a skeleton remaining. Scully later discerns that the substance coating the body was a concentrated digestive enzyme, and that the remains are lacking in body fat.
Incanto prowls an online chatroom, arranging to meet with a similarly overweight woman named Ellen Kaminsky (Catherine Paolone). Incanto is interrupted by his landlord Monica Landis, who believes he is a writer and who is romantically interested in him. He ignores her and resumes chatting. Elsewhere, Mulder learns that Lauren met a man in a chatroom, and researches Incanto's online accounts. They find that he had started one account using a credit card taken from a previous victim.
Kaminsky stands up Incanto while he waits at a restaurant. He leaves, murdering an overweight prostitute who injures him in a struggle. Incanto is forced to flee before he can fully dissolve the body. At the autopsy, Scully finds that the body's airways are choked with the same substance that dissolved Lauren. Scully also finds the skin under the victim's nails contains no oils or fatty acids, convincing Mulder that the killer is sucking body fat from his victims.
Mulder finds passages of obscure medieval poetry in Incanto's e-mails, and compiles a list of people who would have access to the texts from which these were taken. The agents, along with local detective Alan Cross (James Handy), agree to canvass everyone on the list. Meanwhile, Incanto, a translator of medieval Italian literature, receives a package while talking to Monica and her blind daughter, Jessie. He receives an e-mail from Kaminsky, asking to arrange another date; he is also questioned by Cross.
Returning home with Kaminsky, Incanto invites her inside, but curtly leaves when he sees Monica in his apartment. Incanto kills Monica after she discovers Cross' body in his bathtub. When Jessie asks about her mother's whereabouts, she smells her mother's perfume in Incanto's apartment and calls the police. When they arrive, Incanto is gone, but his computer gives a list of women he has been in contact with. Only two are unreachable, one being Kaminsky.
After Incanto comes to Kaminsky's apartment, she recognizes his facial composite distributed by the FBI. Scully arrives at Kaminsky's apartment and is attacked by Incanto; however, as they struggle, Kaminsky retrieves Scully's gun and fires on her attacker. Later, during questioning, a visibly weakened Incanto admits to the killings. He claims to have given his victims what they had wanted, stating "the dead are no longer lonely".