Local authorities and the FBI in Ohio may be dealing with serial killers who used the Internet site "Craigslist" to lure their victims to a remote area where they were robbed and murdered. The bodies of at least three men in their 40's and 50's have been located in shallow graves in and around Akron, Ohio. Connecting the victims is the fact that all three are believed to have answered a Craigslist posting for someone to manage a non existent 688 acre farm in rural Ohio. All of the victims are suspected of having responded to the ads, to include meeting their soon-to-be killers and then traveling with them to see the supposed farm location, where they met their death.
The FBI has been able to trace a number of people believed to have answered the murderous ads, and have located at least one man who was similarly lured to an ambush, and though shot by his assailants, he managed to escape into the woods and then call for help over seven hours later. In searching the location where this victim was shot, authorities found yet another hand dug grave, probably one dug in advance to conceal that fortunate victim's body.
At least two men are now in custody for these crimes, to include a 16-year-old high school student and a 52-year-old Akron man. The connection between the two is currently unknown. Just like previous murders that have seen the killers find their victims via Craigslist (New York City, Boston, Tacoma, and Minnesota to name but four) it was in October 2002 that John Allen Muhammad, working with teenager Lee Boyd Malvo, created murder and mayhem throughout the Washington, DC area when they roamed up and down the Interstate randomly shooting and killing their victims. In that case we also had an older man and a teenager working together as a killing pair.
At least one 27-year-old woman applied for the farm management job she too found on Craigslist, but she was never recontacted by the people placing the listing. In her case she probably did not meet the profile of likely victims in this matter, i.e., older males who may have had some worldly possessions but who might not otherwise be missed by society and those around them. It appears the serial killer suspects had what they may have believed would be "perfect victims" in mind, and the question that now looms before investigators is how many other victims escaped and, unfortunately, how many have yet to be identified who also fell victim to the two murder suspects. And while robbery may have been a primary motive in the latest cases, these likely copycat killers also likely enjoyed "the thrill of the kill," i.e., sociopaths who could easily be responsible for many other murders.
How to Survive your Internet Travels
The Internet is a wonderful superhighway of information that is traveled by millions but it is far too easy to get off on a back road and into dangerous territory, especially if you have a habit of taking people at their word for who they are and what they want. Remember that when traveling on Craigslist, and anywhere on the Internet for that matter, that in addition to the good people we meet, we are just as likely to encounter liars, swindlers, scammers, thieves, and the occasional serial killer. Predators prey on those who put their trust in the Internet and don't do their own due diligence, to include verifying the identity and background of someone you meet online. Always try to meet first in a public place, taking a friend with you to the meeting, making sure others know where you are going, and lastly use that good common sense most believe themselves to be endowed with. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is and the meeting could be a trap for someone so desperate that they put their common sense aside and press into an area that could likely be trouble. Listen to your gut; it may just save your life!
For more information concerning personal and family safety and security, to obtain a free copy of our DVD "Protecting Children from Predators," and to find out the identity and location of sex offenders in your community, go to www.LiveSecure.org.