Most people come to Craigslist to find apartments, job openings, and cheap furniture, while others use the popular classified advertising website to do their dirty work. In recent years, Craigslist has become a hotbed for predators and scam artists looking to take advantage of unsuspecting victims. What’s worse is no Craigslist section is safe from criminals. Whether you’re browsing the personals, for sale, or jobs section, you never really know who’s on the other end and what kind of danger you might be in. So before you agree to meet at a seller’s house or send money to a complete stranger, read these eight biggest Craigslist crime stories first.
Boston University medical student, Philip Markoff, also known as the "Craigslist Killer," was charged with murdering a New York City masseuse on April 14, 2009. Markoff found 26-year-old Julissa Brisman on Craigslist and contacted her for her erotic massage services. The two met in a luxury hotel in Boston, where Markoff lured her into a room and shot her to death. Police found Brisman’s underwear and a semiautomatic weapon inside of Markoff’s apartment, as well as ammunition and other materials that matched those used in another kidnapping-armed robbery on a Boston masseuse. Markoff was charged with the armed robbery and murder of Brisman, as well as two other armed robberies. While awaiting trial, Markoff committed suicide in prison.
A bogus Craigslist ad led to the death of one man and the attempted murder of a second man who were seeking work as a caretaker for a ranch in Ohio. Richard Beasley, 52, and Brogan Rafferty, 17, have been charged with murdering and attempting to murder the victims. Rafferty was 16 at the time of the crime, but is being charged as an adult. The date of the trial has yet to be determined, but prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Beasley.
Michael John Anderson, 19, said he wanted to know what it felt like to kill when he brutally murdered 24-year-old Katherine Ann Olson, who responded to a phony ad the teenage boy had posted on Craigslist. In the ad, Anderson pretended to be a married woman named "Amy," who was looking for a nanny. After exchanging e-mails back and forth, Olson agreed to meet for an interview at Anderson’s house, where he shot her in the back and put her body in the trunk of her car. He left the car abandoned in a park five blocks away from his parent’s house. Police found her blood and the gun he used to shoot Olson inside the home. Anderson was arrested and found guilty of first degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Korena Roberts and Heather Snively had a lot in common; both were young, soon-to-be mothers, or at least that’s what Roberts had told people for months. The 27-year-old met Snively after placing an ad on Craigslist looking for baby clothes. The two women became quick friends, but Roberts never disclosed her secret — she was not actually pregnant. About a week later, Roberts beat Snively with a police baton and used a straight razor to cut open her abdomen and take out the unborn baby to pass it off as her own child. Snively and her infant died. Roberts pleaded guilty to the murders and has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.
In 2007, a Portland couple hired a minister they found on Craigslist to officiate their marriage and discovered he wasn’t the trustworthy person they thought he was. The couple had been asking for Home Depot gift cards in lieu of gifts or cash to help them fund their kitchen renovation, but was surprised to see that all they had were three gift cards at the end of the wedding. As it turns out, the minister stole the gift cards and surveillance cameras at Home Depot caught him buying tools and detergent with them.
In 2011, a California man was arrested and taken into custody for allegedly raping a housekeeper he found on Craigslist under the "maid" section. When the woman arrived at Michael Delgado’s apartment, he locked the doors and allegedly raped and sexually assaulted her with a foreign object for over an hour. Delgado walked the victim out and she asked a passerby to call police. He was arrested on suspicion of rape, rape with a foreign object, false imprisonment, and assault.
Sarah Weyrick was new to Houston and was in need of some cash to pay her bills. The 19-year-old posted a Craigslist ad in the "personals and casual encounters" section, saying "Need help with a couple of bills — just two bills. Tough times call for drastic measures." Sometime after posting the ad, her body was discovered in a burning car in an apartment complex on June 2, 2010. An autopsy showed that Weyrick had been stabbed multiple times around her neck and was put in the backseat of her car before someone set it ablaze to cover the evidence. One month after the incident, police arrested and charged Phillip E. Boldon, 31, with murdering Weyrick.
Tina Morris fell victim to an unfortunate Craigslist scam when she was shopping online for a car for her daughter. Morris came across a seemingly promising Craigslist ad for a 2007 Honda Accord listed for $2,900. The woman selling the car as part of a divorce claimed to live in Lake City, Fla., but said the vehicle was located in a New Jersey shipping yard. Morris was told that the sale was being handled by an agent from eBay motors, but when the seller asked for an additional $1,000 for insurance, Morris got suspicious and called eBay motors. She found out that it was all a scam and her money was long gone.