by Robert A. Waters
Craigslist murders have become so prevalent that some police agencies are opening “safe havens” for online transactions. A recent study revealed that at least 86 murders have been “linked to the popular classifieds website.” Listed below are a few Craigslist crimes that have made the news recently.
James Vester survived a year in Iraq, but died in an Indianapolis parking lot. The National Guardsman had answered a Craigslist ad to buy an Apple iPad when two assailants robbed and murdered him. Tyshaune and Tyron Kincade were accused of the crime. Tyshaune was recently convicted—his brother awaits trial in June. Vester had served in the military for 12 years. He planned to buy the iPad as a Christmas present for his parents.
In Missouri, Michael Gordon has been charged with murdering Taylor Clark, a college student who had listed his 2007 Nissan 350ZX for sale on Craigslist. Gordon arranged to take a test drive and met Clark in a public parking lot at the MTC Truck Driver Training School in Hazelwood, Mo. Later that day, when friends reported Clark missing, investigators had only to check Craigslist to find that Gordon had inquired about the car. Police discovered the victim’s body in a patch of woods behind MTC. Clark had been shot once in the head. Gordon worked at the school and police allege that he committed the crime on his lunch break.
In February, police allege that three men murdered James Jones after he met them to purchase an iPhone. Jordan Baker, Jonathan Myles, and Kaylnn Ruthenberg have been charged with numerous counts, including murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery, and violation of the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act. When Jones, a student at Clark Atlanta University, answered a Craigslist ad, the three allegedly robbed him of his Nike shoes. As he attempted to drive away, police say Ruthenberg shot Jones. The victim then crashed his car, and Ruthenberg shot him in the head. The three had attempted the same crime earlier, according to cops, but the intended victim became spooked by the men and fled.
In 2010, Oregon resident Korena Roberts pleaded guilty to killing Heather Snively, and was sentenced to life in prison. Roberts admitted she contacted the pregnant Snively on Craigslist, and the expectant mother met Roberts hoping to purchase baby clothes. After beating Snively to death, Roberts used a straight razor to cut her seven-month-old child from her womb. The child never took a breath, however, and Roberts’ boyfriend found her and the dead infant in their home. For several years, Roberts had been obsessed with having a baby, feigning pregnancy and purchasing baby items.
Ralph Geiger, 56, David Pauley, 51, and Timothy Kern, 47 answered Craigslist ads, then disappeared. Police later discovered the men had been murdered by an ex-con and his teenage accomplice. Richard Beasley placed the bogus ads seeking farmhands to work on a non-existent ranch he owned. When the victims arrived in Akron, Ohio to begin their new jobs, Beasley and Brogan Rafferty, 17, drove them to a rural area and shot them dead. Beasley then sold their belongings. The scheme worked perfectly until they attempted to rob a South Carolinian named Scott Davis. After being shot, Davis escaped and led police to the killers. Beasley received the death penalty, while Rafferty got life in prison without parole.
NOTE: I’ve used Craigslist to sell a few items. While no amount of protection is foolproof, I always bring along a partner and meet the buyer in a crowded store parking lot. I also carry a handgun (thanks to Florida’s concealed carry laws) and a cellphone. If the buyer looks or acts suspicious, I’m outa there.