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.
49-year-old Todd Terry, of Farmington Hills, Michigan, was recently shot and killed after responding to a craigslist ad in nearby Inkster. The article and corresponding video doesn’t specify what the ad was for, but since the article makes reference to the fact that Mr. Terry liked to restore bicycles and mopeds It was more than likely for one of those. Tragically there was no moped or bike to be bought as Mr. Terry’s family have indicated that he was killed just for the money he was carrying.
A suspect by the name of Tremayne Alexander has been charged with Mr. Terry’s murder and is allegedly responsible for two other similar crimes in the area.
Todd Terry’s widow is urging others to forgo craigslist…
“They’re creating something that’s not in existence for you to come and bring what? $100? $50? With the plans to kill you. So I tell people to run from it. Don’t even look at it. Don’t even open it up. I wish Craigslist was shut down,” Yvette Terry said.
As I’ve said in the past, due to craigslist’s low threshold of entry, anyone can post an ad saying just about anything they want. This lack of oversight by craigslist has not only led to numerous scams and robberies, but has also led to a multitude of rapes and murders. Craigslist has become nothing but a trap, luring in an overabundance of victims.
Mr. Terry also left behind two sons ages 16 and 13, and the family has set up a GoFundMe account. By all accounts Mr. Terry was a great man. Please donate if you can.
I originally posted about the murder of 39-year-old father Jake Brantner here. Brantner was shot and killed in Kansas City while trying to sell a gun to a buyer from craigslist. His alleged killer was captured earlier this month and is said to be 18-year-old Fazon K. Swinton.
Swinton allegedly grabbed the gun without paying and ran off when both men produced guns and fired at each other. Brantner was gunned down in front of his 10-year-old daughter while Swinton later took himself to the hospital after being struck by a bullet from Brantner’s gun.
As I mentioned before, craigslist forbids firearms to be sold on their site but without any kind of moderation their ban doesn’t really mean a whole lot.