55-year-old Gary Owens of Omaha, Nebraska, reportedly took out an ad on craigslist that said he was a nice guy and just looking for a friend. A homeless woman responded to his ad looking for a place to stay. Instead she found herself in a makeshift prison. Once she was in the house Owens allegedly told her “You know we’re going to have sex right?” before preventing her from leaving the bedroom. After she rebuffed his advances, Owens allegedly restrained her with rope and choked her into unconsciousness before raping her. When she needed to use the bathroom Owens would lock her in there as well. The victim says she was eventually able to trick Owens into letting her use a phone and was able to call a women’s shelter who helped her escape. Owens is said to have a long and violent criminal history.
I can understand someone being desperate enough to seek shelter anywhere if they’re without a home, however, craigslist is not that place to look. Unfortunately, it is overflowing with violent predators like this. If they’re allowing you to stay in their home out of ‘the goodness of their hearts’ it’s more than likely that they want something unsavory in return.
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.
38-year-old Mario Alston, of Las Vegas, is accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl from nearby Henderson, Nevada. Alston allegedly placed an ad on craigslist that the victim is said to have responded to. The contents of the ad are as of yet unknown, however, the conversation soon moved to the mobile messaging app Kik, where the victim is said to have given Alston her address. When the girl’s parents weren’t home Alston reportedly went to the home and sexually assaulted the girl.
I know this sounds like just another Kik kreeper, because the app is rampant with sex offenders and pedophiles, but there is something I wanted to address from the article I linked to.
Detectives say Alston and the 13-year-old started communicating non-stop on the “Kik” app. It’s an app where messages can be hidden from parents.
While Kik is a preferred tool of predators, the messages are only hidden from parents if parents choose not to check their kids’ phones. Despite all of its faults it’s not an app designed to be hidden from parents, you just have to now what to look for. I’ve even included a picture of what the app icon looks like at right. Both Android phones and iPhones have a button that list all the apps that are on the phone. Don’t just rely on the apps that are on the phone’s main screen. Again, you may trust your child, but do you trust the strangers they may be talking to?
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.
24-year-old Amy Brown of Edmonds, Washington, was arrested for allegedly stabbing her craigslist date in the chest. While the pair laid in a Lynwood, Washington, hotel bed, Brown reportedly kept asking her date if he was a serial killer. When he gave his last reply of ‘no’ Brown replied that she was a serial killer, and stabbed her victim in the chest. The wound was not fatal and the victim was able to escape to a nearby drug store.
When police caught up with Brown in the parking lot of the motel she reportedly told police that she was a ‘loon’ and wanted to be a serial killer. She is also said to have told police that she wanted to kill the man in order to eat his heart.
Sadly, Brown is not the first person to try to use craigslist as their own personal killing ground. A serial killer on Long Island is still at large, and they’re suspected of using craigslist in order to kill several women that advertised as prostitutes on the website.
“Craigslist: The place where serial killers are born.” Great selling point you have there.
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.
21-year-old Jared W. Baratka of Plymouth, Minnesota, had been previously convicted of stalking a teenage girl. He was sentenced to 90 days jail and 36 months probation, but the jail time was suspended, because letting stalkers run around free is such a good idea. After being picked up for one of his many alleged probation violations, police found emails on his phone that has led to him being held on $1 million bail.
A 56-year-old man said he answered a personal ad on craigslist, which turned into a request to kidnap and sexually assault a teen girl in Plymouth. The man told police that, as a hobby, he roleplays on Craiglist in the adult section, but that in this instance it became too real when the man he was in communication with — who police believe to be Baratka — supplied photos of the girl, an address, and the make and model of the car driven by the girl.
The man supplied communications he had with Baratka to officers in which Baratka encourages him to kidnap and sexually assault the girl while filming it.
The informant repeatedly asked if Baratka was serious, to which Baratka responded “I definitely 100 percent want this.” He allegedly offered $100 to the man during their communications.
This is far from the first case of someone soliciting the rape of another person on craigslist, in what I refer to as ‘rape by proxy’. Tragically, a number of the ones who have tried this before have been successful. The one that leaps immediately to mind is Jebidiah James Stipe, who orchestrated the rape of his ex in Wyoming through craigslist in California. Only by sheer luck was Baratka not able to carry out his plan.
46-year-old Uber driver Asil Din, of Germantown, Maryland, is accused of allegedly soliciting sex from a 15-year-old girl from craigslist. Din reportedly placed an ad on Craigslist that asked “Any local young lady available?” Montgomery County police responded to the ad posing as a 15-year-old girl.
“I don’t wanna lie I am only 15, is that ok?” the officer wrote.
“Ok. That’s fine I guess,” Din, who police say was writing under the pen name “Oscar” at the time, reportedly wrote back. “Wait I don’t want to get in trouble with that, when will u be 16? … as long as you are not the police. And I have had this fantasy for so long.”
Being the obvious romantic that he is, Din is said to have not only asked if after school was the best time to hook up for sex, but offered the girl $100 for each time they had sex.
Din is currently out on bond with a trial scheduled for April.
Once again, these kinds of ads are something that craigslist should be monitoring for, whether it be through moderators or software. It’s actually not that difficult, but craigslist either doesn’t want to spend the money or doesn’t care that their site is being used as a marketplace for sexual predators.
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.
Last July, I posted about how Michelle Suzanne Hadley was arrested for trying to set up he rape of her ex-boyfriend’s pregnant wife through craigslist. In a twist that is normally reserved for TV dramas, it turns out that the so-called victim in the plot was actually the suspect.
31-year-old Angela Diaz of Anaheim, California, has been accused of allegedly setting up the craigslist rape fantasy ad against herself in order to frame Hadley. Investigators say that Diaz used special software to make it look like Hadley had posted the ad and sent harassing e-mails to Diaz. Police were eventually able to determine the true IP address that the craigslist ad was posted from. Supposedly, Diaz wanted Hadley out of the way to put the brakes on any feelings that her husband may still have had for Hadley. Diaz seems to appear to be a serious con artist as well…
Along with attempting to frame Hadley, Diaz is accused of faking a pregnancy and cervical cancer, forging a check, posing as an attorney and as two of her husband’s ex-girlfriends, and forging doctors’ notes.
While this story is tailor-made for TV crime shows like Dateline and 48 Hours, this is the exception and not the rule. In the overwhelming majority of criminal cases where a suspect claims that they’ve been framed they haven’t.
UPDATE 1/16/2017: Late last week Diaz was extradited from Phoenix to California to stand trial. She could be sentenced to as much as 14 years behind bars. Diaz has also pleaded not guilty.