true crime

In 2013, Renae took her own life after being catfished. The perpetrator was her best friend.

Warning: This post deals with suicide and may be triggering for some people. 

It was 2008 when Renae Marsden first met Camila Zeidan.

They were 14, and in year nine at the time, and their friendship briefly turned into a romance.

After their relationship broke down, Renae started dating a boy and attempted to distance herself from Camila.

Camila was enraged and quickly became possessive of her former girlfriend turned best friend.

Her messages turned sinister.

“I swear to God kid, you’re going nowhere. Do you understand? You abusive me, I’ll laugh. You kill me, I’ll be your ghost. You hate me, I’ll still love you. You hide, I’ll hunt you down. Only I’ll own you. I am too in love with you and too obsessed with you and crazy about you baby,” read one.

Watch: Renae’s parents Teresa and Mark speak to A Current Affair about the death of their daughter. Post continues after video.

Video via Nine

In one night Camila tried to call Renae 54 times, but the teenager told her to stop and that she was being possessive.

Three years later, their friendship was renewed when Camila introduced Renae to a man named ‘Brayden Spiteri’.

However, Brayden never existed. Camila had created a fake profile and she preceded to catfish Renae for the next 18 months.

She told Renae that Brayden was her ex-boyfriend but he would be better suited to her. She showed Renae a photo of herself and ‘Brayden’, which Cameron – the real man in the photo – says might have been taken on a night out. He doesn’t remember that photo though.

Brayden-and-Cameron
Cameron (right) is 'Brayden' (left). But he has never had anything to do with either Camila or Renae. Image: Nine.
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As he told A Current Affair, he doesn't know either girl and never has.

In the following months, Renae and Brayden exchanged 11,000 text messages. They never met in person or spoke over the phone because - according to him - he was in prison.

He told her he was in a motorbike accident and his mate Richie was on the back and was killed in the crash. He, as a result, was charged with manslaughter.

"At the time it seemed okay. It seemed plausible and somewhat rational," Renae's dad Mark Marsden told A Current Affair. 

Mark and Renae Marsden
Renae's dad Mark told A Current Affair they will never forgive Camila. Image: Nine.

Renae and Brayden's relationship was tumultuous.

He was constantly jealous but would also shower her with 'I love yous'. According to Renae's family, she believed in fairytales and honestly thought he was hers.

"Theresa and I weren't comfortable with the relationship. No question about that. But don't forget, when a young lady has fallen in love they don't necessarily want to listen to their parents," Mark said.

His wife Teresa thought she "had time" to change her daughter's mind about him, while he was still behind bars.

But Brayden didn't exist. He never existed. It was Camila behind the phone the entire time.

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"She had us all fooled," said Teresa.

"She's evil," added Mark.

Renae Marsden
Renae Marsden died by suicide in 2013. Image: Nine.

In July 2013, 17 months into the relationship, Camila went on a month-long holiday overseas and had no contact with Renae, either as her best friend or her fake boyfriend.

With the distance to think, Renae sent a letter to her boyfriend. She told him she "couldn't live without" him, that he was her rock and her everything. She also mentioned that she was ending her friendship with Camila for good.

Renae's parents think Camila wanted revenge. Because soon after, Brayden sent Renae a message asking for a break from their relationship. Then he messaged Teresa telling her to "sort her daughter out, she's threatening to kill herself".

Teresa remembers Renae telling her: "You don't have to worry about it anymore, I found out what he's all about".

"To this day I don't know what that meant. I don't know if she found out he wasn't real... that he was Camila. We do know she rang Goulburn jail," Teresa recalled to A Current Affair. 

On August 5, 2013, Renae ended her own life at Sydney's Watson's Bay. She was just 20 years old.

She wrote one final message to her mum.

"I love you so much, I'm so sorry for everything and the pain I will now cause you, but I'll be okay, I'll still be here and be around when you need to talk to me, just call my name and I'll be there," it read, according to Nine.

"You're the most amazing person and mother ever, and my very best friend. I wasn't happy and I need you to understand that it's okay. Don't let this ruin everyone else you need to take care of okay? I need you to be strong for me. I love you mumma, I always will and I'll be waiting for you when you come. Renae."

Teresa Marsden
Renae sent a final message to her mum before she took her life. Image: Nine.
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A coronial inquest into Renae's death wrapped up in Sydney in February 2020, and in May 2020, the coroner handed down her findings, condemning the "pack of lies" told by Camila.

NSW Deputy State Coroner Elaine Truscott found the actions of Camila "caused the hurt and heartache that led (Renae) to take her own life".

In the more than seven years since, Camila has continued to lie about what happened and Coroner Truscott said this had only "amplified the pain" and provided "further torment" to Renae's family.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that when the counsel assisting the coroner Sasha Harding put to Camila during the inquest that Brayden never existed, she responded: "Like I said, that was a character between me and Renae".

Renae's parents are calling for catfishing to be a crime.

"I lost my daughter. If I could save just one person, then I have made a change," Teresa told A Current Affair.

"She was full of life. She would light up the room, that smile and laugh of hers... we miss that."

Coroner Truscott said although catfishing isn't an offence under the Crimes Act, it was unclear if the crime of using a carriage service to menace, harass or offend was applied in this case, an offence which carries a maximum penalty of three years.

She has recommended the NSW Domestic Violence death review team review the case.

Feature image: Channel Nine.

This article was originally published on February 26, and updated on May 21.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, please contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue 1300 22 4636.

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