A growing number of people are showing sides online they would never expose in person, experts say. John Tassinari, the Abington man accused of murdering his wife, had a Web persona that was quite different from his image as a brilliant engineer who wowed his teachers when he was in school.
There’s a photo of a scantily clad woman in leather. There are veiled references to bondage. Rope is described as “the hottest lingerie.” There’s a list of favorite guns.
The MySpace page of accused wife-killer John Tassinari, 29, of Abington contrasts markedly with Tassinari’s image as a student who wowed his Braintree High School teachers and college professors and went on to become a brilliant engineer.
“I never saw a dark side of him,” recalled Ethan C. Cobb, Tassinari’s adviser at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. “He was very straightforward, no pretensions. He was exactly what you saw.”
But these days, what you see depends on where you look.
Tassinari is behind bars today, following the fatal shooting of his wife, Barbara, 29, on Tuesday at the couple’s Pilgrim Street home. Barbara Tassinari was from a large Quincy family.
John Tassinari is among a growing number of people who, online, are showing sides of themselves that they do not show in person.
“You can be whoever you want, say whatever you want, and nobody will know,” said Andrew P. Obuchowski, who teaches computer crime and computer forensics at Anna Maria College.
The number of people using social networking sites is skyrocketing, with MySpace showing the most dramatic growth, according to comScore, a digital analyst group.
Carla Goodwin, an Easton psychologist, said some people go online convinced they can be another person to a different group of people.
“You can develop a persona of whoever you want,” she said. “It shows a very immature ego development, a lack of ego development. ...These people actually depersonalize themselves. They fracture off a piece of themselves.”
Tassinari was known on the South Shore as a science whiz who placed first at state science fairs in high school and won the International Science and Engineering Fair, the highest worldwide award for high school students.
As a student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, he designed a new cable crossover machine for working out.
“He was one of my better students,” his adviser, Cobb, said. “He had tremendous promise in his chosen field. I thought, ‘He is going to have a great life.’”
Tassinari, a certified physical trainer and firearms instructor, wound up working for his father’s company in Holbrook, Mica-Tron Products Corp., which manufactures components from plastics, ceramics and other materials.
In 2004, he married Barbara Scolaro, the woman he is now accused of shooting to death in the driveway of their Abington home. They had one child together, a 1-year-old boy; she also had a 10-year-old son.
Police say John Tassinari, who was licensed to have guns, told them he shot his wife at least a dozen times with two guns. The weapons, .45-caliber semi-autimatic Glock handguns, were found at the scene.
Tassinari was described in court papers as controlling, but his in-laws said they had no hint he was dangerous or a potential killer.
Glenda Kaufman Kantor, a research associate professor at the University of New Hampshire’s Family Research Laboratory, said many abusers can be manipulative – and fool outsiders for a long time.
“It is very hard to know what goes on behind closed doors,” she said. “No one really knows. ...Some people have described abusers as being very charming. It is all part of this manipulative personality.”
Maureen Boyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.