Just because craigslist removed its personals section doesn’t mean it’s any safer. Last weekend, two men, 21-year-olds Alize Smith and Jarron Moreland, went missing in Moore, Oklahoma, after witnesses saw them being taken into a van. Moreland’s family claimed that he was meeting someone to sell something through craigslist. Sadly, the bodies of Moreland and Smith were found weighted in a pond earlier this week. Three suspects have been arrested and charged in their murders, and they are 22-year-old Kevin Garcia-Boettler, 43-year-old Johnny Barker, and the 16-year-old brother of Garcia-Boettler.
According to police, Moreland and Smith were said to be selling a gun on craigslist and the trio of suspects were meeting with the two men to purchase the gun. Once Moreland and Smith approached the suspects’ van, one of the suspects claims they heard a gun being cocked by one of the victims. This resulted in one of the suspects firing on the two men, killing them both. Tragically, this could have all been prevented.
Craigslist’s terms of service forbids firearms from being sold or traded on their site, yet it happens all the time. The problem with craigslist is the usual one as they hardly ever do any kind of moderation on their site for any kind of illegal items or sales. Instead, they rely on their users to flag any kind of inappropriate ad, the same users who are posting the illegal ads to begin with. This is akin to the inmates running the asylum. Craigslist has the ability to screen for ads like this as they have done so in the past with unlocked iPhones when that was still illegal. Yet they allow guns to change hands without even batting an eye.
What shouldn’t be forgotten about this story is the letter Sparre wrote to his ex-girlfriend after his conviction where he stated he enjoyed killing Tiara, admitted planning the murder for weeks and thought he was smarter than police. Egomania and psychopathy aside, does that sound like someone with a diminished mental capacity to you?
Meanwhile, Tiara’s family, who by all accounts are loving and close-knit, can’t appeal the death sentence David Sparre inflicted unfairly on Tiara just because she answered his craigslist ad.
If the suspect’s story is to be believed, this may be the most bizarre craigslist killing I’ve heard of in the past 12 years.
Back in late December, 19-year-old Natalie Bollinger of Adams County, Colorado, went missing. The day after she was reported missing her body was found. Nicole had been shot in the head and a lethal amount of heroin had been found in her system.
Originally, the public turned their suspicious eye toward a scary looking man who Natalie claimed was stalking her. She even took out a restraining order on the man. Since he has not been charged in Natalie’s death, I won’t post his name. However, I get the feeling that some people will still point to him as a suspect. He was a person of interest until another person was arrested for Natalie’s murder.
22-year-old Joseph Michael Lopez was arrested this past week and was charged with first-degree murder in Natalie’s death. Lopez claims that Natalie took an ad out on craigslist entitled “I want to put a hit on myself.” Lopez claims he responded to the ad posing as a hitman. The two exchanged over 100 text messages. Lopez claimed that he didn’t shoot Natalie but was with her the night she died. However, police say when Lopez was confronted with the GPS data from his phone he allegedly admitted shooting her in the back of the head.
Do I believe Lopez’s grandiose tale of the craigslist ad? Surprisingly, I think there may be a grain of truth to his story. It’s not unheard of for people to look for a hitman on craigslist. Usually, those people are also arrested. Some of Natalie’s friends have said she had suicidal thoughts and a drug problem so it is a possibility that for whatever reason she didn’t want to end her life by her own hand. I’m not 100% convinced this is why he killed her, but it’s not the strangest reason why someone kills.
Having said that, that does not excuse Lopez’s actions in any way shape or form, nor does that make Natalie Bollinger any less of a victim. Just because someone asks you to kill them DOESN’T MEAN YOU SHOULD. Lopez reminds me of one of those guys who thinks he’s an actual ninja because he collects swords and watches anime. If his story is true, then due to his obvious disregard for Natalie’s life, I would have no objection if Lopez was given the death penalty. That seems unlikely since Colorado has only executed one person since the death penalty was reinstated in 1974.
I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this one and as usual, I’ll post updates as they become available and as time allows.
Back in January, 40-year-old Chad Laplante and a friend went to buy a video game system off of either OfferUp or craigslist. The pair was instead lured to a robbery where Mr. Laplante was shot. He spent close to a month in the hospital before finally succumbing to his injuries.
“He got a fungus because he laid open too long in the hospital. He had eight surgeries, three heart attacks and three failures of life.
The suspects are still at large and police are asking for the public’s help.
If you have information that could help investigators in the Laplante case, contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at (317) 262-TIPS. If your confidential tip leads to an arrest, you could receive a cash reward of up to $1000.00. If authorities confiscate a weapon during the arrest, the reward would increase by hundreds of dollars.
I know I sound like a broken record, kids, ask your parents, but the old rules don’t apply anymore. You can go to meet someone off of craigslist or OfferUp in public and with a friend and still end up dead. My advice is to not use either platform, but if you insist on doing so, meet the other person at your local police station. While it’s not a guarantee of safety, it’s better than just meeting someone on the street.
65-year-old Murray Blackmon is accused of the fatal hit and run of a 44-year-old man who Blackmon may have scammed on craigslist. The victim was said to be there to buy a laptop from Blackmon, but Blackmon has a history of craigslist scams. The victim was holding on to Blackmon’s car as Blackmon tried to drive away from a Morrow, Georgia, parking lot. When Blackmon stopped the victim allegedly hit the asphalt striking his head which killed him. Blackmon is said to have stopped his vehicle where the victim fell and grabbed a computer box.
Again, I would never recommend using craigslist for anything but if you do use craigslist or a similar service, always meet the other party at your local police department.
20-year-old Andre Smith was shot and killed by 37-year-old Matthew Barry during a craigslist transaction gone wrong, but it’s hard to say who was at fault. Barry was buying an iPhone 7 from Smith and a friend at a CVS parking lot in Davie, Florida. Barry felt he was about to be robbed by Smith and his friend. Barry allegedly warned them he had a gun and the other men allegedly claimed they were armed as well. Barry took off inside the CVS and when the pair followed Barry opened fire striking Smith. Smith was rushed to the hospital where he died from his injuries. Barry is said to have a conceal and carry permit. So far, no one has been arrested and the investigation is ongoing.
I understand there are communities in our country who may not trust the police and they may have good reason not to. However, I implore anyone who’s looking to buy or sell something on craigslist, or any other online classifieds, to make the transaction at your local police department. This can go a long way in discouraging any kind of tragedy like what happened in Davie from happening to you.
42-year-old Jonathan Outlaw was a former police officer at Tennessee State University. Recently, he was shot and killed at a gas station in Robertson County, Tennessee. He was there to meet someone from craigslist who was interested in buying his car, instead three suspects tried to steal the car from Outlaw. One of the suspects allegedly shot Outlaw as they fled with his car.
Police have arrested two suspects. One is a juvenile and the other is 19-year-old Ricardo Lamont Murray Jr. The third suspect has yet to be identified.
The Craigslist Killing blog has 119 craigslist murders listed on their site, but doesn’t have the murder of Mr. Outlaw listed yet. That would make 120 murders with a craigslist connection. No matter who you are, no matter what your background or profession, you can become a victim of one of these crimes. Even worse, there’s been so many of these killings you could be just a statistic.
Back in May, Mr. Cruz went missing after going to sell his truck on craigslist and never returned, His truck was found abandoned and his blood was inside the truck. His body was found behind a vacant Atlanta home.
Just how Mr. Cruz was murdered and which of the men allegedly killed him has not yet been made public.
This past week, 34-year-old David Rios was arrested in San Antonio, Texas, and charged with Mr. Cruz’s murder. What hasn’t been made public yet is the cause of Mr. Cruz’s death and the motive behind the crime.
If you’re selling something on craigslist, even if it’s something as big as a truck, meet the buyer at your local police department. Most municipalities have safe zones at their police stations to facilitate classified transactions safely. If the seller says they can’t meet at the police station, then it’s not worth risking your life over a sale.