I originally posted about the murder of 51-year-old Sam Norman here. Mr. Norman was shot and killed in DeKalb County, Georgia, earlier this month after going to meet someone he thought was selling a drone on the mobile marketplace app LetGo.
Yesterday, DeKalb County police announced that they had made an arrest but did not release any information about it. Today, it was announced that two suspects have been arrested for Mr. Norman’s murder. The suspects are 18-year-old Cicero Smith and an unnamed 15-year-old juvenile. Investigators were able to subpoena the user information from LetGo which led them to Smith. A search of Smith’s home is said to have turned up drone parts that were used in the ad. Smith is also believed to have shot Mr. Norman in the chest. Mr. Norman was said to have given pursuit in his vehicle before succumbing to his injuries. No word yet on if the juvenile will be charged as an adult.
As free apps like these become more prolific, and as more people ignore the safety issues, we will only see more bloodshed. Much like craigslist, since the barrier of entry to these apps is nil, it’s an easy allure for criminals looking to make a quick buck through robbery. However, hopefully the fact that LetGo assisted police in finding the suspect will let criminals know that they can be found.
51-year-old Sam Norman was shot to death last week in DeKalb County, Georgia, after planning to meet someone who claimed to be selling a drone on the LetGo app. If you haven’t seen their commercials, LetGo is a craigslist competitor in app form. Mr. Norman went to meet someone who was purportedly selling a drone, instead Mr. Norman was found in his truck having been shot to death.
Police are still searching for Mr. Norman’s killer and has been described by a witness as a man wearing a white T-shirt and a black hat. Investigators are combing LetGo for any possible leads.
Just because apps like LetGo and 5miles look slick and professional, and aren’t craigslist, doesn’t mean that the old rules don’t apply anymore. Meet during the day somewhere that is as public as possible, preferably at your local police station. Once some new facet of technology comes along, it doesn’t take very long for criminals to try to take advantage of it. Unfortunately, that sometimes can cost someone their life.
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.
32-year-old Antonio Rosales of Chicago is accused in the murder of 16-year-old Desiree Robinson in Markham, Illinois, on Christmas Eve. Rosales was attending a party in Markham when he saw an ad for Robinson on Backpage. Rosales had sex with Robinson, but when he couldn’t pay her he allegedly punched her and slit her throat. Robinson’s friends went to the house where the party was where they found Robinson’s body and a knife. The autopsy said that Robinson had been beaten and choked before having her throat slit.
While I hope that prosecutors do everything within their power to put this scumbag behind bars for the rest of his unnatural life, I hope they’re also looking to prosecute the people who put Desiree Robinson on Backpage to begin with. While some may argue that Ms. Robinson was on Backpage by choice, I find that very hard to believe. The first thing that indicates to me that she was being trafficked is that she had been reported missing as a runaway since November 29th. Pimps and traffickers often convince their underage victims to run away with promises of a life of luxury. Ms. Robinson’s mother also said that Desiree had contacted her but couldn’t tell her mother where she was. Victims of sex trafficking often can’t reach out to their family due to threats of violence against them and their family. I also have to wonder if her ‘friends’ were her pimp and enforcers. A number of prostitutes often travel with a ‘security guard’. They’re supposed to make sure that not only does the prostitute collect the money for the pimps, but they’re also supposed to make sure that the prostitute doesn’t run off. Sounds a lot like slavery doesn’t it?
As far as I’m concerned, whoever turned her out on Backpage is as equally culpable in her death as Rosales allegedly is. This isn’t even taking into account that Backpage once again allowed a minor to be sold for sex on their website which led to her violent death. Just another drop of blood money in their already overflowing coffers.
UPDATE 2/7/2017: The family of Desiree Robinson have made it known that they plan on suing Backpage for Desiree’s death. I hope they’re successful in that endeavor, however history is not on their side as all similar lawsuits filed against Backpage were dismissed.
33-year-old April Vancleave of Arlington, Texas, was shot and killed near her home after trying to sell some items on a craigslist-like app. April was trying to sell some jewelry through an app called 5miles, in order to make some money so she could buy a Christmas present for her 6-year-old daughter. Ms. Vancleave even did all the right things that one should do when selling an item online through a classifieds app or site.
When she went to meet the buyer in public no one showed up to meet with her, so her husband dropped her off at home and he returned to work. Police say that two men followed her to her apartment complex, robbed her, and shot her. The suspects are still at large and a $10,000 reward is being issued for information leading to their capture.
Here is surveillance video from the Arlington Police.
Anyone who recognizes the men seen in the video or has information about the incident that left Vancleave dead is asked to contact Arlington police at 817-459-5735.
Anonymous tips can also be made by calling Crime Stoppers at 817-469-8477.
This is not an indictment against 5miles. It seems like a decent app with user profiles, which is more than craigslist can say however, as this story shows, you can take all the necessary precautions when dealing with online classifieds and still risk being the victim of a crime. While this story is a rare case, it still speaks volumes as to the dangers adherent when dealing with strangers and money online.
I’ll post more details as they become available and as time allows.
24-year-old Terique Dwayne Hall of Atlanta has been charged with the murder of 20-year-old Ashley Mays, in DeKalb County, Georgia. Hall allegedly murdered Ms. Mays by smothering her with a pillow after zip tying her hands and feet. Ms. Mays was also nine months pregnant and the baby did not survive either.
Hall met Ms. Mays through Backpage where she was being advertised as an escort. This allowed Hall to allegedly gain access to Mays’ home where he is said to have assaulted and killed her.
Once again, Backpage would have you believe that this is what constitutes free speech. Not only that but this is yet another example of where Backpage is not protecting sex workers. This man was able to enter his victim’s home through Backpage. That doesn’t sound like safety to me.
This past Tuesday, a now 20-year-old Dylan Lentini was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the stabbing murder of his craigslist roommate, Michael Wimbert of West Nyack, New York. Lentini argued that he killed Wimbert in self-defense as the much larger 68-year-old man was trying to rape him.
Lentini reportedly was causing disruptions in court earlier in the day proclaiming his innocence and interrupting proceedings. Court was in recess for two hours before the judge rendered the sentence. Several people had sent letters and testimony to the court claiming that Wimbert was sexually inappropriate with many other people however, the judge felt the fact that Lentini did not meet the self-defense criteria since he stabbed Wimbert 30 times. Lentini’s own sister even told local New York news that he was manipulative and capable of violence.
It seems that in this instance that no one is a good guy and there is no happy ending.