By Janet Shamlian, NBC News Correspondent
They are as common a piece of household electronics as the television. It's hard to find a family anymore without at least one computer and a connection to the Internet. But I couldn't find either when I spent an evening recently in the sprawling home of Lesli and Christos Catsouras, and it soon became apparent why.
The couple has suffered every parent's greatest fear -- they've lost a child. Nikki was a free-spirited 18-year-old when she slipped out of the house with the keys to her dad's sportscar and crashed into a freeway tollbooth. Agony enough for a lifetime, certainly, but for Lesli and Christos it was just the first blow in what's now been more than a year of torment and heartache and unimaginable pain.
Gruesome police photos of Nikki's mangled remains were leaked onto the Internet. Within days, they were on a thousand websites. Chat room users posted the family's address and encouraged others to harass them. Christos and Lesli started getting emails with the photos attached saying "your daughter deserved it." Someone replaced Nikki's MySpace profile with one that included the morbid pictures. Each incident was a fresh assault. When the couple tried to track down the haters, one dead end was followed by another. It was all done anonymously.
In a Nightly News web exclusive, we look at the rise of Internet bullying and what's being done about it, including an effort by the nation's Attorneys General. The harassment is manifesting itself in vicious forms, but few as cruel as the invasion mounted against the Catsouras family and their three young daughters.
It's why, in a home lacking for almost nothing, you won't find a connection to the Internet. It's difficult to be unplugged in an email-dependent world, Lesli says, but logging on has proven too emotionally dangerous and just not worth the risk.