You want to buy a cell phone or sell a TV. Perfectly ordinary. And on any given day, countless people turn to Craigslist. The ads are mostly free and the goods are local. Sounds like a great idea.
That's what Bud and Jane Runion thought. In January of 2015, the 60-something Atlanta residents had posted an ad on Craigslist saying they wanted to buy a 1966 Mustang and a man had responded. They embarked on what they thought was a day trip to south Georgia to see the car Ronnie "Jay" Towns claimed to have. When they didn't return home in time to babysit that night, their daughter raised the alarm. Even before their bodies were found, Towns was questioned. When their bodies were discovered, it was apparent that they had been robbed and shot in the head. Towns was charged with their murder.
Murder by Craigslist is more common than you might think. A brief trawl of the Internet has revealed 20 or so cases of murder or attempted murder in recent years. Most of the Craigslist deaths come from ads offering items for sale. When James Jones Jr., a bright Atlanta University student, responded to a Craigslist ad that offered an iPhone 6 for sale, he was shot dead. Next on the list are lonely hearts or personal ads and job offers. One man, Richard Beasley, used bogus job offers to lure three people to their deaths. And Craigslist has its fair share of serial killers. Miranda Barbour, convicted of murdering a man who responded to her Craigslist ad, has claimed she committed some 20 other murders in a cross-country killing spree.
Here are 12 shockingly bloody Craigslist murders. Some of the people on this list turned to Craigslist for kinky purposes, but most were completely innocent, just trying to buy or sell something. It is truly a case of buyer beware.
12 Miranda Barbour - Satanic Serial Killer
Miranda Barbour and Elytte Barbour were a newlywed married couple that liked to do things together. Like kill people. In August of 2014, they pleaded guilty and received life sentences for the stabbing to death of Troy LeFerrara in Pennsylvania, in 2013. LeFerrara, a married man, had answered a "companionship" ad placed on Craigslist by Barbour. In a post-arrest interview, Barbour, a follower of Satan, claimed to have killed 22 others in a satanic cult cross-country crime spree. She said the only thing the police would find were body parts. According to one source, Barbour patterned her actions on TV serial killer, Dexter.
11 Murder and Dismemberment of Lin Jun by Luka Magnotta
Magnotta was a sex worker, a model and a former adult star. Lin Jun was a Chinese student, from a loving family. In 2012, Magnotta placed ads in a Canadian Craigslist in the "man seeks man" section, and chilling security camera footage shows Magnotta and Lin Jun walking through the lobby of Magnotta's apartment building. After the murder, Magnotta posted a video showing an Asian man tied to a bed frame being stabbed with an ice pick, then dismembered, topped off with acts of necrophilia. Body parts were mailed to the Canadian Conservative Association. Magnotta fled Canada and Interpol became involved. He was arrested in an Internet Cafe in Berlin, in June of 2012, as he read news about himself. With Lin Jun's parents in the courtroom, he was convicted of first-degree murder in December of 2014.
10 Brady Oestrike - Craigslist Bondage Murderer
His home had been searched in May of 2014, after he bragged in a bar about locking a woman in a suitcase and holding her captive. Oestrike had set up a sex dungeon complete with restraints and sex toys in the basement of his Michigan house, and advertised on Craigslist for others who were interested in bondage and sexual dominance. In July of 2014, Brooke Slocum, 18 and 8 months pregnant, had contacted Oestrike via Craigslist and, reportedly, had offered sex for money. She and her boyfriend Charles Oppeneer, met Oestrike at a park. What came next is straight from a nightmare. Slocum was held captive in the sex dungeon for 5 days before he killed her and her unborn baby. Police found her body in the trunk of Oestrike's car. Oppeneer's headless body was found in nearby woods. Oestrike fled before committing suicide.
9 Michael Anderson - Lured Katherine Anne Olson to Her Death
She was a vibrant 20-something who had worked in Turkey as a nanny, and who wanted to study theater. He was only 19, and what he wanted was to see what it was like to kill. So he advertised for a nanny on Craigslist, posing as a married woman named "Amy". Katherine Anne Olson responded to the ad and they exchanged emails. In late October of 2007, when Olson arrived at his parents' Minnesota home for an interview, he shot her in the back and stuffed her body into the trunk of his car. Later, he abandoned the car. At his trial he showed no emotions. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole in 2009. Reportedly, he was the first to be dubbed, "the Craigslist Killer".
8 James Jones Jr. - Victim in Search of an iPhone
The Florida native was a snappy dresser with an easy smile, a B student majoring in chemistry at Clark Atlanta University. In February of 2015, students at Clark were shocked when they heard that well-liked, humble classmate had been murdered after he answered a Craigslist ad offering an iPhone 6 for sale. Police charged Jordan Baker, Jonathan Myles and Kaylnn Ruthenberg with felony murder and held the trio without bond. Reportedly when the trusting Jones showed up to meet them on a Monday night, they robbed and then killed him. After a 911 call, he was found in the driver's seat of a car, with a bullet in his head.
7 Philip Markoff - Armed Robber and Murderer
Markoff is the Craigslist Killer that just about everyone has heard about. A boy next door, medical student, and clean cut armed robber and killer. In 2009, he was a second year medical student at Boston University when he answered a Craigslist ad for a massage service placed by ex-working girl, Julissa Brisman. Later, Brisman's body was found in a hotel room and Markoff was charged with armed robbery and her murder, as well as two other armed robberies. In 2010, while awaiting trial, he committed suicide in his cell. Engaged to marry Megan McAllister, he wrote her name in his own blood over the cell door.
6 Richard Beasley and Brogan Rafferty - Lured Three Down and Outs With Bogus Job Listings
In Ohio, Beasley, a so-called street preacher, and a teenager boy named Brogan Rafferty, ran bogus job ads on Craigslist to lure down and outs to their death. With the tearful relatives of the three victims present, the court heard how Beasley had placed ads and how he and Rafferty had killed three men who had responded to the ads. A fourth man, Scott Davis, escaped death, by knocking the gun aside and fleeing through the woods. Davis had responded to an ad for a handyman and was taken to a remote spot and then attacked. In 2013, Beasley was sentenced to death and 17 year old Rafferty to life in prison without parole.
5 Thomas Coffee Murders Daniel Cook After Dirtbike Ad
Philadelphia resident Coffee, ran an ad offering an ATV for sale. A New Jersey man, Daniel Cook, responded to the ad and traveled to Philadelphia to meet Coffee. Coffee has a long history of violence and other people who responded to Coffee's ads for the dirtbike have testified that when they showed up to meet Coffee, they were robbed at gunpoint and threatened with death if they didn't cooperate. They all lived to tell the tale. Unfortunately, Cook was not so lucky. After being separated from friends, he was shot and killed. Coffee was arrested for the murder and is due to stand trial in May of 2015.
4 Rashad Moon Charged With Murder of Felix De Jesus III
"I'll be back," Felix De Jesus told his father as he set out for a meeting. In 2013, 40-something, father of two ran an ad in a Connecticut Craigslist offering a Samsung tablet for sale. Moon responded and, according to De Jesus' father, Moon kept calling and calling until a meeting was set up. An obviously unsuspecting De Jesus agreed to meet Moon on a road in Hartford. While still sitting in his car, he was shot and killed, perhaps by Moon, or perhaps by a teen accomplice with a history of mental problems. Moon was arrested, charged with felony murder and first-degree robbery. Bond was set at $1.5 million.
3 John Katehis - Satanist and Murderer
New Yorker John Katehis was 16 when, in a frenzied knife attack, he killed popular radio reporter George Weber, in 2009. According to one source, the two had hooked up after 16-year old Katehis placed a Craigslist ad offering sexual services. A student, Katehis was a self-proclaimed Satanist, affiliated with the Church of Satan. When he was arrested, he confessed, but said that he had stabbed 47-year old Weber in self-defense after the radio personality tried to stab him. Later, at trial, a smirking Katehis pleaded not guilty. He was convicted in 2011, and sentenced to 25 years to life.
2 James Sanders and the Diamond Ring Ad
In 2010, Washington State resident James Sanders offered a diamond ring for sale in a Craigslist ad. Saying the ring was to be a Mother's Day gift, three men and a woman came to the Sanders home to look at the ring. It quickly turned into a nightmare home invasion, with Sanders, his wife and son, being pistol whipped. When Sanders tried to fight back, he was shot and the assailants fled with the ring. The suspects, Clabon Berniard, Joshua Reese, Kiyoshi Higashi and Amanda Knight, were featured on America's Most Wanted television show. The ring was later recovered in a San Francisco pawn shop. In 2011, all four were convicted.
1 Williams Apps - Kidnapped and Murdered
William Apps was a 25-year old law student living in Charleston, South Carolina who wanted to sell his 2006 Chevrolet truck. In 2013, he ran a Craigslist ad. When Jquan Scott and Isaac Scott responded, Apps agreed to what he presumed was a safe meeting with the two men at a busy downtown Hardees, in Charleston. After some discussions, he agreed to drive them home. Jquan Scott and Isaac Williams then kidnapped Apps and shot and killed him, and dragged his body to the woods. Scott drove the truck to a party that night. After his arrest, Scott took police to the body.