A Boston medical student named Philip Markoff used Craigslist (2009) to solicit several women for sexual encounters, and although he killed solely Julissa Brissman, he had many victims. Markoff was identified via hotel surveillance cameras and emails, and was apprehended while driving to Foxwoods Casino with his fiancée, also a medical student. He killed himself in his cell in 2010.
According to Kristin Davis, “prostitution should be decriminalized, if not legalized, so that women who are victims are afforded legal protection and can call the police if they are victimized. Let’s not forget that Phillip Markoff was found to have the trophies of dozens of women he victimized. If one of them felt comfortable calling the police, then Julissa Brissman would still be alive and this man would have been caught.”
According to Justin Peters, “”Megan Schmidt, a 23-year-old Iowa woman who allegedly used Craigslist to solicit a hit man to murder her father. Schmidt’s reported actions were rather inept, and a little bit backward—you should never use Craigslist to hire someone else to commit a violent crime on your behalf. But for those who want to commit violent crime themselves, Craigslist is a depressingly common place to hunt for victims. Last month (June, 2013), a New Jersey man named Daniel Cook Jr. was shot and killed after he was tricked into meeting up with a man who had placed a Craigslist ad for an ATV. Last year a Minnesota man named Aung Thu Bo was shot and killed when he answered an ad from a man who was ostensibly trying to sell an iPhone. In 2007 another Minnesotan, 24-year-old Katherine Olson, was killed after responding to an ad looking to hire a baby sitter.
Many of the Craigslist-related murders seem to be robberies gone wrong. But not always. The most famous Craigslist killing, perhaps, involves Richard Beasley, an Ohio man who was sentenced to death earlier this year after being convicted of murdering three men on his farm. Beasley and an accomplice, Brogan Rafferty, lured their victims to the farm via Craigslist ads promising work; when the hopeful job applicants arrived, Beasley and Rafferty shot them and buried their bodies in the woods. There was no apparent robbery motive; Beasley and Rafferty seem to have just wanted a bunch of easy victims.
What makes Craigslist so popular with aspiring murderers? It’s mostly free to use, and it’s mostly anonymous—in many sections of the site, the person placing the ad doesn’t have to give a name or other identifying details. The Craigslist email anonymizer hides your email address. If you place your ad from a public computer, and maybe wear a wig and fake beard while doing so, the police will have trouble tracking you down after you’ve dispatched your victim.
Also, and perhaps most importantly, Craigslist features a lot of meet-me-for-sex ads. One could reasonably argue that the main reason the site exists is so people can troll for sex. A lot of the people who patronize the Craigslist personals want to maintain their anonymity. This is catnip for the aspiring psychopath—and it can spell trouble for the aspiring libertine. New York City radio reporter George Weber was found dead in his apartment in 2009 after placing a Craigslist ad soliciting “violent sex.” (The killer was a 16-year-old “knife fetishist” from Queens).””
Written by Justin Peters.