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.
Back in 2016, 42-year old Martha Teran was shot and killed in the parking lot of Medieval Times in Dallas, Texas. Back in April, 24-year-old Lonzell Hunter was convicted and sentenced to life for her murder. Hunter used a fake OfferUp profile in order to set up the robbery. When someone in the car Lonzell was sitting in snatched the phone, a struggle ensued and Lonzell shot Martha Teran. Lonzell had also messaged friends telling them to be ready to “bleed this block” for “street money.” He has also been charged with a charge of capital murder for the murder of another victim at a convenience store.
No matter how glitzy and slick a classifieds app appears to be, none of them are 100% safe and just meeting in a public place isn’t a guarantee of safety anymore. If you still insist on using classifieds apps or websites, meet the other person nowhere except a police station. If they don’t want to meet you there, then the odds are they’re up to no good.
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 who has been charged as an adult. 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.
UPDATE 2/18/2018: Early last week two suspects were arrested and charged with Gerard Cage’s murder. They are 28-year-old Timothy Gordon Johnson and 29-year-old Nichelle Angeleane Scott-Dennis, both of Lancaster.
Over the weekend, 18-year-old Gerard Cage was shot and killed in Lancaster, Texas, after trying to buy a cell phone through the marketplace app 5miles. Gerard was said to have been shot by a man in a white Dodge pickup. At last report Gerard’s killer was still at large. The meeting place was said to be very public, but as we’ve seen in the past few years, that doesn’t stop people from robbing or killing their victims through apps like this.
The investigation is ongoing and Lancaster police are asking anyone with information to call Lancaster police at 972-218-2711.
Tragically, this isn’t the first murder committed through 5miles in the Dallas area. Back in late 2016, 33-year-old April Vancleave of Arlington, Texas, was shot and killed after trying to sell jewelry through 5miles. She was followed home by two men who intended on robbing her.
The difference between these murders and murders that have taken place through other apps is that 5miles has not only offered their condolences but publicly stated that they’d be helping local police.
“5miles” app told WFAA on Sunday night they are working to assist Lancaster PD in solving Cage’s killing.
“We’re saddened to hear about this young man and have been cooperating with the Lancaster P.D., providing the detective assigned to this case with requested information and support,” the company said in a statement.
When has craigslist ever reached out to the public positively when one of the 100+ victims have been killed through their platform?
5miles also offers a safety feature that many similar apps do not. The app has an option that recommends a safe meeting place which includes police stations. The only other platform I know of that offers a similar service is, friend of the site, Geebo.com who provides a link to SafeTrade Stations in every ad.
My prayers and condolences go out to Gerard’s friends and family. Hopefully his killer will be brought to justice swiftly.
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.
The meeting itself took place in the stairwell of an apartment which sounds like it was pretty hidden from public view. If you insist on meeting someone from OfferUp or any other classifieds site or app, please meet them at a local police department. While it’s not a guarantee of your safety, it sure does go a long way in dissuading criminals from trying to harm you.
I’ve never liked the stories in the media when someone finds their stolen stuff on craigslist and then takes it back from the thief. Usually, the police aren’t involved and untrained people are dealing with potentially dangerous criminals. Sadly, that is what happened in Garland, Texas, a couple of weeks ago.
26-year-old Michael Ryan Love was said to have found his stolen camera equipment on OfferUp. When he approached the seller he took a number of people with him. The seller returned the camera to him but an argument ensued and a shootout followed leaving Love and another man dead.
Both craigslist and OfferUp are notorious for thieves trying to sell stolen goods on their platforms. If something of yours is stolen in any kind of burglary it’s a great idea to look on these platforms for your items. However, under no circumstances should you approach these thieves on your own. Always notify your local law enforcement. They may not work at the speed you wish they would. They may not even be able to get your stuff back, but no gadget or bicycle or any other material good is worth putting your life in mortal danger.