The media loves to publish stories about people who found their stolen possessions on craigslist and confronted the person who stole them. I always thought that this was irresponsible of the media as I knew it would eventually lead to something like this.
63-year-old William Knight, of Akron, Ohio, is said to have found his son-in-law’s stolen dirt bike, worth $4000, being sold on craigslist. The bike had been stolen a year earlier. Knight and his family reported the ad to police who said they would go with Knight to approach the seller. Police then had to respond to another call, but Knight and his family went anyway.
Knight is said to have shot and killed 24-year-old Keith Johnson who was selling the bike. Knight claims the shooting was in self-defense, but reports make it sound like that Johnson was fleeing the scene rather than attacking Knight.
“I had to,” Knight said, alleging that Johnson had tried to flee and that he could have hurt his family members.
Knight told dispatchers his son-in-law tried to hold on to the bike to prevent Johnson from riding away. He said he fired his gun to protect his family and himself, and that he thought he hit Johnson in the chest.
Johnson was not the man who had stolen the bike. Relatives say that Johnson had bought the bike from someone else last year. Knight has only been charged with involuntary manslaughter which has set off tensions in Akron since Knight is white and Johnson is black. While I can’t say that the charges are based on race, I will say I think the charge of involuntary manslaughter is not enough and Knight should be charged with second-degree murder.
59-year-old Ellis Vogt, of Fayette County, Tennessee, went missing in the summer of 2016 after hiring a caregiver off of craigslist. Back in February, his body was found and the caregiver, Pamela Bingham, had been arrested for theft for being in possession of some of Mr. Vogt’s property.
Recently, it was made public that Bingham has been charged with second-degree murder. According to an affidavit, butcher knives were found next to Mr. Vogt’s body that matched knives that were missing from his kitchen. Bingham allegedly went to great lengths to throw anyone off her trail…
Investigators said they discovered a burn barrel still smoldering outside Vogt’s home. They also discovered blood-soaked towels, a DVR recording device for the surveillance system, and a crowbar.
And why did she allegedly brutally murder a man who was just looking for someone to assist him around his home?
Surveillance video captured Bingham in the Walmart parking lot of Oakland, Tennessee on July 30, 2016, the day after Vogt was reported missing. The video shows Bingham making purchases inside the Walmart, but does not show that Vogt was with her.
I would lay odds that everything she bought from Wal-Mart was probably trivial at best and a flat-screen TV at best. This goes a long way in showing how low criminals who use craigslist are willing to stoop just to buy themselves some cheap crap.
18-year-old Jerry Johnsey, of Auburndale, Florida, and 16-year-old Byron Lasiak, of Winter Haven, have been charged with first-degree murder in the death of 67-year-old Donald Merkley, also of Winter Haven. Johnsey allegedly knew his victim through craigslist and was having sex with the victim prior to this. In this instance the pair went to the victim’s house and during sex Johnsey allegedly put Merkley in a chokehold until the victim fell unconscious. At that point Johnsey and Lasiak are said to have taken turns beating the victim in the head with a baseball bat. They then found some gasoline and spread it around the house before taking $2.75 they found on a counter.
If you’re looking for a friend with benefits or just a one night stand, I would avoid sites like craigslist. Due to its low level of entry and perceived level of anonymity it is a criminal haven. Hook-ups like this in the past from craigslist have led to crimes ranging from robbery to rape to murder. While craigslist isn’t the only dating avenue where these crimes happen I would say that it is the most prevalent one.
44-year-old James Beck, of Tampa, Florida, was killed this past Tuesday after trying to sell his 16-year-old son’s dirt bike on craigslist. Beck and his son met a pair of individuals when one of them opened fire on Beck, striking him twice in the neck. The two suspects then ran off with the dirt bike. Beck unfortunately died on the scene from his injuries right in front of his son.
Police have arrested 16-year-old Ramontrae Williams and 17-year-old Dontae Johnson, and charged them with first-degree felony murder and robbery.
Sadly, I don’t have much else to add here. Craigslist should be considered too dangerous for anyone to use anymore. While you, the reader, may have found the perfect deal on craigslist, and have never had a problem, the number of people killed through craigslist is now in the triple digits. Craigslist has become nothing more than a dangerous game of Russian Roulette, and too many people are becoming victims to a deadly game that they don’t even realize they’re playing.
In case you were wondering, even in states where recreational marijuana is legal it’s still illegal to sell it online. In either case Michigan is not one of those states. If you sell anything on craigslist you’re taking your life in your hands, but if you’re selling something illegal those chances increase dramatically. I’m not saying that these men deserved to die, but there is obviously no honor among criminals.
In a case that is reminiscent of the trial of Dylan Lentini, 19-year-old Kyle Box, of West Carthage, New York, is on trial for the brutal stabbing murder of 62-year-old Randy Bent. Box is said to have met Bent in March of 2015 through craigslist after Box had posted an ad where he allegedly said “I’ll give you a good time you won’t forget.”
This isn’t the first craigslist murder I didn’t hear about it when it first took place.I doubt it will be the last either. How sad is it that craigslist murders have become so commonplace that they hardly register anymore on the media radar? That should tell you something about the chances you take when you use craigslist, especially if you’re just looking for a hook up. I don’t care if you’re straight, gay or your somewhere else on the gender scale, if you use craigslist to look for a one night stand you are taking your life into your own hands.
The victim was 25-year-old Deeana M. Wingender from Syosett. Some reports state that she had become addicted to prescription pills and turned to prostituting on craigslist to pay for her habit. Just because she may have been a prostitute, that shouldn’t reduce her meaning in the world as she is said to have come from a loving family who are probably crushed at their loss.
This story shows me a number of things. The first is that prostitution is still happening on craigslist, not that I ever doubted it stopped completely. The second is how dangerous a pill addiction can be. Some people seem to think since they were given their prescription by a doctor it’s ok to abuse them, but prescription pills are one of the leading causes of drug addiction in the country today. Because of her addiction, Miss Wingender wasn’t what people consider a ‘consenting adult’. Even though she may have had no pimp she was still a slave to her addiction. Lastly, this shows that craigslist, or Backpage, does not make prostitutes any safer than walking the streets. As I’ve said before, craigslist and Backpage just make it more convenient since killers and rapists have their victims delivered to their home.
One thing that struck me about this story was that the Fox 5 Atlanta article mentioned that Mr. Hodge was not only a good man by all accounts, but that he was a martial arts expert as well. When I briefly trained in the martial arts, I saw some masters of it do some amazing things. Unfortunately, even that skill can’t always protect you. With craigslist being as dangerous as it already is, I wouldn’t want my worst enemy using it.
My thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to Mr. Hodge’s family and community that he seemed to be an integral part of.
The suspects are still at large.
Atlanta Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $2,000 for information leading to an arrest in the case.
The investigation is ongoing. If you have any information about this case, please call police at 404-577-TIPS (8477)
APD officer Tim Pipes read a series of text messages sent between Violet and Phillip on the day of Allen’s death. They showed Violet telling Phillip to find a way to get money to prevent impending homelessness and hunger. They then showed that Violet set up a meeting with a person referenced as “Clyde lick.” A Ranger testified earlier in the case that “lick” is slang for a robbery or the victim of a robbery. Another text message from Violet to Phillip says, “Choke him,” with another sent hours before Allen’s death saying, “Take him out all the way, just do it.”
Officer Allen’s death should serve as a warning to others looking to get their rocks off through craigslist. If a police officer isn’t safe from craigslist criminals, neither is anyone else. With craigslist’s low barrier of entry and implied notions of anonymity, crimes like these will only continue to occur.