Back in March…of last year, 64-year-old craigslist vigilante William Knight, of Streetsboro, Ohio, shot and killed a man he thought had stolen his son-in-law’s dirt bike. Knight found the bike being sold on craigslist and decided to confront the seller in Akron. The only problem is, the seller wasn’t the person who stole the bike. Knight killed 24-year-old Keith Johnson who had bought the bike from someone the year before. Knight claimed self-defense, but witnesses say Johnson was trying to flee at the time of the shooting. Originally, Knight was only charged with involuntary manslaughter. Later, a grand jury indicted Knight for murder.
Initially, Knight had informed police he was going to meet the seller, but something more pressing drew the police’s attention so Knight didn’t wait on them. If you find something of yours that was stolen listed on a site or app like craigslist, don’t go to meet the seller yourself. Instead, call the police and let them handle it. It’s kind of their job. While the media loves to tell stories about civilians whose stolen stuff ended up on craigslist and got it back by confronting the thief, there are so many things that could go wrong in that situation that it’s too dangerous to conduct such a sting on your own. There’s no stolen property that’s worth the cost of your life.
I initially posted about the murders of Alize Smith and Jarron Moreland here. Back in April, the two 21-year-olds from Moore, Oklahoma, were shot and killed during a craigslist gun sale gone wrong. Their bodies were found days later, weighted down in a pond. 22-year-old Kevin Garcia-Boettler and 43-year-old Johnny Barker were charged with their murders. Also charged was Garcia-Boettler’s 16-year-old brother who has now been identified as Brett Boettler. 40-year-old Crystal Rachelle Boettler, the mother of the two brothers, has been charged as an accessory after the fact.
After allegedly shooting the two victims in their van, the Boettler brothers took their victims to their mom’s home where Barker, Mrs. Boettler’s boyfriend, is said to have helped the brothers dispose of the bodies. Reports are also now saying that Smith’s and Moreland’s bodies were dismembered before being thrown into the pond.
According to court documents, detectives found the White Chrysler Town and Country van which was seen during the shooting, at the Boettler home.
After looking inside, they found “cleaning products and a power washer around the vehicle,” “dried blood spatter on the ceiling of the van” and “a bucket of water with a chainsaw bar inside and soaking in the water along with several jigsaw blades.”
Again, all this senseless violence could have been prevented if craigslist had only moderated their own site for illegal gun sales. Selling firearms is against their terms of service, but they refuse to enforce it.
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.
In my previous post, I discussed how craigslist shuttered its personal section in anticipation of the FOSTA law. Many in tech circles have lamented the loss of craigslist personals as if it was some place where wholesome couples would meet so they could attend church and ice cream socials together. What they’re conveniently forgetting is that the personals section of craigslist had a much more sinister undercurrent that not much of the public was aware of.
Sadly, this is not just a one-off occurrence as the Craigslist personals have a long history of this type of activity. This wasn’t even the youngest victim to ever be sold through craigslist as an Idaho man tried selling a 3-year-old girl through craigslist. In either case, none of the ads were flagged by craigslist’s community policing. For those of you who try to say that this will drive the predators underground, that’s the whole point. Without such a platform like craigslist, predators will have one less highly trafficked platform to find their victims and reprehensible parents won’t have the marketplace to sell their kids.
Back in March, which is going to be a recurring theme for a while, before FOSTA was signed into law, and before Backpage was taken down, craigslist took it upon themselves to remove the personal ads section from their website including the casual encounters section. Anyone clicking on any of the personal ad links on craigslist are met with the above message. As is usually the case with craigslist, they’re playing the victim over something they should have done years ago.
To hear craigslist tell it, they sound like FOSTA is about to kill all romance on the internet. What craigslist isn’t telling you is that their personal ads, like most sections of their site, have long been the home of criminal activity. When craigslist shut down its erotic services section after public pressure, whatever human trafficking ads didn’t move to Backpage moved to craigslist’s personals section. That’s not even taking into account that craigslist’s casual encounters section was often used by child predators looking for their next victim. So while craigslist is acting like some kind of martyr, let it never be forgotten that their personals section has mostly been a cesspool of crime.
Craigslist has only itself to blame since they failed to monitor their own site for decades.
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.
It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since Richard Beasely was sentenced to death. Not surprisingly, he hasn’t been executed yet. If Ohio doesn’t impose a moratorium on the death penalty, I give him about another 15 years before his date with the needle.
In case you may not remember Richard Beasley, he concocted a plot where men would be lured to Ohio for a phony farm job Beasley posted on craigslist. Three me were shot and killed by Beasley after responding to the ad. Those men were Ralph Geiger, David Pauley, and Timothy Kern. A fourth man, Scott Davis, was able to escape from Beasley’s attack.
Beasley also employed a teenage henchman by the name of Brogan Rafferty who helped Beasley dispose of their victims’ bodies. The pair would split any ill-gotten gain they were able to claim from their victims. Rafferty was tried as an adult and sentenced to life without parole.
Beasley was attempting to steal the men’s identities, probably because he was already facing criminal charges for drug and human trafficking.
This past week, the Ohio State Supreme Court upheld Beasley’s death sentence. Beasley’s defense argued there were errors in the trial which should cause a new trial. However, not only did the Ohio Supreme Court vote unanimously that Beasley’s conviction should stand, but the court also voted 6-1 that the Beasley’s death sentence should remain. The only thing more perfect than that in Ohio was the Cleveland Browns 0-16 season last year.
But again, as is the problem with most death penalty cases, Beasley will probably never get the justice he truly deserves. While Beasley can file appeal after appeal, Ralph Geiger, David Pauley, and Timothy Kern can’t appeal their death sentences and they didn’t even commit any crime.
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.
It’s highly debated whether or not a large event like the Super Bowl increases human trafficking and prostitution in the area where it’s held. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. For example, take 33-year-old Justin Beard, of Branson, Missouri. Beard was in Minneapolis in order to work some of the public events leading up to the big game. Police say Beard allegedly tried to purchase two kids off of craigslist for the purpose of sex, or as I call it, child rape.
Beard is said to have responded to a craigslist ad from a father who claimed to be offering his 15-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son for sex. In exchange, Beard would provide the man with tickets to the events he was working worth $100. Thankfully, the man behind the craigslist ad was actually an undercover investigator.
As I’ve said before, if police are apprehending one guy looking for kids, there are others there who police haven’t caught yet. Human trafficking and child prostitution are real problems that affect all locations and social classes thanks to the worldwide reach of sites like craigslist. Craigslist refuses to moderate their own site and don’t tell me it’s impossible. If Backpage can monitor and edit their ads for illegal content, then craigslist is surely able to at least monitor their site for illegal ads.