Back in September 41-year-old Mamuka Chamiashvili of Brooklyn, New York, was shot and killed in Elizabeth, New Jersey, after responding to a craigslist ad for a Mercedes-Benz SUV.
Back in October 28-year-old Ali Garner and 30-year-old Keon Lewis, both of Elizabeth, were arrested in connection with Mr. Chamiashvili’s murder and recently 36-year-old Travis Picou of Paterson was also arrested. All three are being held on $2 million bond each.
I’ll say it again that using craigslist for any reason is very akin to playing Russian Roulette.
I am sad that i have to post that the bodies of Bud and June Runion have been found. The couple from Marietta, Georgia went missing after going to look at a Ford Mustang that was advertised on craigslist. Unfortunately there was no Mustang which seems more like a ploy to commit robbery. The suspect in the Runnions’ disappearance and death, 28-year-old Jay Towns, has been apprehended. The Runions’ vehicle was found submerged and their bodies were found nearby but not underwater.
Here’s something that I forgot to mention in my last post. I don’t post about every craigslist scam anymore. There are so many that it would be too time consuming for me to post every one. However with the last few months I have heard of a scam where scammers are posting ads on classifieds sites like craigslist advertising either high dollar value or classic cars. In too many cases the cars don’t exist and are just bait to fleece people out of their money. Unfortunately in this case the cost was much greater.
My heart breaks for the Runion family and my prayers and condolences go out to them.
UPDATE 2/2/2015: The autopsies showed that the Runions were both shot in the head.
This week the Florida Supreme Court upheld the death sentence for David Sparre. Sparre was convicted in the brutal 2010 stabbing death of 21-year-old Tiara Pool. Sparre had met his victim through the casual encounters section of craigslist in Jacksonville, Florida. The pair had sex before Sparre stabbed her almost 90 times. Sparre was convicted and then sentenced to death for Tiara’s murder. After his sentencing Sparre sent a letter to his ex-girlfriend bragging about how he enjoyed killing Tiara. So it came as a surprise to me that an appeal of his death sentence was even being entertained.
During his trial and penalty phase Sparre instructed his attorney, Chief Assistant Public Defender Refik Eler, to not present any evidence in his defense. Eler, who said Sparre was guilty of second-degree murder but didn’t deserve the death penalty, planned to introduce evidence he was mentally unbalanced and abused drugs and alcohol since he was 11.
But Sparre reiterated his instructions to Circuit Judge Elizabeth Senterfitt, who ruled that Eler couldn’t present the evidence against his wishes.
On appeal Tallahassee Public Defender Nada Carey argued that Senterfitt abused her discretion by not considering all the evidence that would have kept Sparre off Death Row. She said it didn’t matter that Sparre didn’t want it brought up.
In Thursday’s unanimous Supreme Court ruling the justices said that in cases where a death-penalty defendant declined to offer a defense, the judge was required to order a comprehensive pre-sentence investigation into the that defendant’s background. That was done in Sparre’s case, with the investigation addressing his physical and mental health.
So that brings Sparre one step closer to the needle which will be infinitely more merciful than the death of Tiara Pool, a mother of one who still had her whole life in front of her. It’s too bad they won’t be able to lunge the needle into him 90 times. Hell, by the time his execution date would have rolled around I’m the country will have lost its nerve on killing monsters like Sparre.
Matthew Joseph Fischer
16-year-old Matthew Joseph Fischer was arrested for the stabbing death of 17-year-old Lucas Bennett Cavanaugh in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Fischer allegedly stabbed his victim after Fischer’s girlfriend received some messages over Snapchat from Cavanaugh. Fischer responded by daring Cavanaugh to come over and fight him which Cavanaugh obliged. During the fight police say that Fischer produced a knife and fatally stabbed Cavanaugh in the torso. After the fight Fischer fled and called his mother who didn’t hesitate to turn him back over to police. Fischer is being charged as an adult.
I never understood jealousy. To me jealousy is just another name for mistrust. If you trust your partner you don’t have to worry if some other guy is Snapchatting her. If you trust her she’ll just delete the messages. Not to mention like I’ve always said there is no man or woman alive worth killing over especially at that young of an age. You may think at that age you’re going to spend the rest of your life with that person but the odds are that you won’t. Now two lives are ruined over something so trivial as teenage jealousy.
One of the alleged murder weapons used to kill Mark “Zeb” Spencer
While the United States may lead the market in craigslist killings the market has not been cornered.
In Coomera, QLD, Australia, the body of 37-year-old Mark “Zeb” Spencer was found. Police believe that he was beaten to death after a robbery scam went horribly wrong. According to reports Mr. Spencer ordered the services of a prostitute through craigslist. Instead the prostitute and a male partner allegedly beat Spencer to death.
Authorities in Australia have arrested 33-year-old Peta Lorang-Goubran and her accomplice, 28-year-old Mark Dayney, and charged them with Spencer’s brutal murder. The pair are believed to have beaten Spencer to death with a tennis racket and a baseball bat. Investigators also say that the pair may have other victims that they have robbed in a long running scam.
So it’s just not the US where you’re taking your life into your hands by using craigslist. Even in other countries they refuse to clean up their site.
On a somewhat unrelated note, brothels are legal in Queensland while street prostitution is not and sex trafficking against people’s will does take place in the country.
There’s been a report floating around that says there have been 45 craigslist killings since 2009. That sounds about right but there have also been more since at least 2006 not to mention those killed through Backpage as well. Yet neither site really does anything to try to protect their users.
Chad Richard Hurst
Back in late October, 30-year-old Chad Richard Hurst was arrested in Jacksonville, Florida and is believed to have stabbed 28-year-old Jennalee Miles to death after arranging a ‘date’ with his victim on Backpage. Hurst is also charged with stabbing another woman from Backpage who escaped.
I’m sure Liz McDougall and Backpage just think that Hurst was exercising his right to display his knife skills.
This past Tuesday night 18-year-old Jawad Ali Razai was shot and killed in Durham, North Carolina, after responding to a craigslist ad for a cell phone for sale. Instead, police say, that 18-year-old Jarrion Hood shot and killed Razai during an attempt to rob him. Somehow Hood was shot as well but unfortunately survived. Hood also has been previously charged with kidnapping and assault with intent to kill.
What can I say that I haven’t already said in the past 8 years since I’ve been tracking craigslist crimes? It’s not a safe way to do any kind of business no matter what side of the transaction your on, what time of day the transaction takes place or even how public the meeting place is. If someone is determined enough to try to take what you have nothing will stop them from getting it, including a possible murder charge.
19-year-old Afrikka Hardy is believed to have been the victim of alleged serial killer Darren Vann of Gary, Indiana. She was working as a prostitute out of nearby Chicago and was advertised on Backpage. However just because she was a prostitute doesn’t mean she deserved to be strangled to death by a serial sex offender who has allegedly confessed to killing at least 7 victims. She had family and loved ones who cared about her.
This is more blood splashed on the pages of Backpage since they facilitated the murder in my opinion but they’re not going to stop unless they’re forced to stop. Congress needs to get off its ass and update the archaic Communications Decency Act before there are more Afrikka Hardy’s. Backpage isn’t going to stop on its own while there is blood money to be made.
UPDATE 10/31/2014: Vann has pleaded not guilty.
Chad Marshall Wilcox
Yesterday police in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania arrested 28-year-old Chad Marshall Wilcox for allegedly killing 36-year-old Manuel Hakimian of Norristown in late September. Police say that Wilcox arranged a sexual meeting with Hakimian through craigslist and when they met at Hakimian’s home Wilcox bound his victim before slashing his throat. Wilcox then went on a multi-state spending spree using his victim’s bank and credit cards. Wilcox turned himself in to police in North Carolina because he had an outstanding warrant for child rape in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania.
To whomever out there hasn’t taken the hint yet. Whether you’re gay, straight or whatever, meeting people from craigslist for any kind of romantic or sexual encounter is the worst of ideas. While the odds are not likely that you’ll meet a throat slashing child rapist they’re good enough that meeting a stranger from craigslist is more akin to playing Russian Roulette. It only takes on meeting with a craigslist predator to change your life for the worse, or end it.
UPDATE 1/24/2015: Wilcox had pleaded not guilty and prosecutors have decided not to seek the death penalty. This really comes as no surprise as Pennsylvania has cooled on the death penalty in the past 15 years.