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10 Of The Creepiest True Stories From Craigslist
In 2009, Philip Markoff earned a name for himself as the Craigslist Killer after he murdered a masseuse he’d met on Craigslist. But although Markoff might be the most famous Craigslist murderer, he’s definitely not the only one. From deranged serial killers to burglaries gone horribly wrong, these stories will make you think twice the next time you’re looking for a quick online deal.
10The Job Of A Lifetime
To Scott Davis, the ad seemed, too good to be true: a steady $300 a week and a place to live, all for watching a secluded farm in southeastern Ohio—the “job of a lifetime.” Davis, 48, had recently broken up with his girlfriend and was looking for a new start in life when he saw the ad on Craigslist in 2011. The ad mentioned that over 100 applicants had responded to the job posting, so Davis could barely contain his excitement when he got a call telling him that he was one of the job finalists. All he had to do now was meet his employer and check out the farm.
After a final interview in a local restaurant, Davis climbed into the back of a white Buick, while his new employer, a heavyset man named Jack, squeezed into the front seat. A burly teenager, whom Jack introduced as his nephew, was behind the wheel. As they drove, the road took them farther and farther away from civilization. Soon, they were surrounded by dense woodland, and not long after, the Buick creaked to a stop on a secluded stretch of the dirt road. Jack told Davis that they’d left some equipment just down the hill, so Davis hopped out to help them carry it up to the car. That’s what he was there for.
Jack led the way, but they somehow got turned around in the thick underbrush, and Davis found himself walking with Jack and the young man right behind him. Davis heard the click of a gun hammer. As he spun toward the sound, a bullet shattered his elbow. He stumbled into the woods. Behind him, Jack cursed and fired round after round at his back. They all missed, and Davis spent his next hours creeping through the woods like a hunted animal, blood soaking his right side, never sure if Jack or his silent accomplice would be around the next bend.
Long after sunset, Davis finally found his way to a rural house, where he pleaded with the owners to call the police. Over the next few days, the horrifying reality of the situation came to light. “Jack” was actually a man named Richard Beasely, who used his Craigslist ad to lure men into the woods to kill them. His “nephew” was 16-year-old Brogan Rafferty. Together, the two had already killed three men and buried their bodies in shallow graves in the woods. In 2013, Beasley was sentenced to death, and Brogan Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison.
In 2003, Brian Boucher was looking for a roommate to help share the rent, and John Williams was looking for a place to stay. It was a match no different from thousands of others that happen on Craigslist all the time, and for a while, it looked like it would work out. That is, until Williams began acting strangely.
To sweeten the deal, Boucher had offered his new roommate the only bedroom in the apartment, hoping that the added privacy would convince him to stay. It was just what Williams was looking for, because Williams had a secret. According to Boucher, Williams kept to himself. A lot. Boucher could spend hours in the apartment thinking he was alone, only for Williams to suddenly walk out of his room with his head down, do whatever he had to do, and then disappear inside the dark bedroom again with only the soft click of the door’s lock as a farewell.
Boucher began to get worried.
As the months passed, Williams began staying away from the apartment for extended periods of time, and during one of these absences—after they’d been living together 10 months—Boucher had had enough. He broke into the locked bedroom, intent on packing up Williams’s things and sending him on his way. On the bed, he found a bulging manila envelope, and what he saw inside made his blood run cold: It was filled with torn up credit card offers that Boucher had received in the mail—Williams had been going through his trash and collecting pieces of it. Along with the shredded mail was a sheet of notebook paper with the names and addresses of Boucher’s family members, including creepy personal details, like the date his parents had been married.
On another sheet of paper was Boucher’s credit card information and the passwords to many of the websites he used. It was like a bizarre file on Boucher’s private life. Then, Boucher found a diary, and at the end of one of the entries, he found a chilling sentence: “I’m only now just starting to get over being afraid every time someone looks at me twice in the street . . . every time a cop looks at me . . . thinking they know.”
All it took was a quick Google search for Boucher to find his roommate on the front page of America’s Most Wanted. Months earlier, Williams—real name Dino Loren Smith—had pulled off a brazen jewel heist in San Francisco, making off with $10 million in diamonds. A call to the police revealed that Williams was already in custody. Boucher never found out why he’d been collecting his personal information, but he does know that the situation could have ended much worse.
8A Taste Of Death
Katherine Anne Olson had recently graduated from Minnesota’s St. Olaf College and was working part-time as a nanny until her career in theater kicked off. She was 24. Michael John Anderson liked to play paintball and wondered what it felt like to kill a person. He was 19.
Posing as a mother named Amy, Anderson posted a Craigslist ad in 2007 looking for a person to babysit a child the following day. Olson jumped at the opportunity, and they made arrangements for her to show up at the house at around 10:00 AM to start the job. According to some comments made by Olson to her roommate, she had a weird feeling about the job, but she decided to go through with it anyway. There was no way she could have seen what was coming.
After arriving at the house, a run-down split-level in Savage, Minnesota, Olson was greeted by Anderson, who led her up to his bedroom on the second floor. Nobody’s sure exactly what happened next, but at some point, Olson tried to run. Anderson shot her in the back with a .357 magnum, dragged her body down the stairs, and stuffed her in the trunk of his car. He abandoned the car a few blocks away. Then, in an attempt to destroy the evidence, Anderson crushed Olson’s cell phone and wrapped it up in a bloody towel before dropping it into a public trash can. He apparently didn’t realize that the towel had his name written on it in black marker.
In 2009, Anderson was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
7A Shallow Grave
It’s a saying as old as time itself: Never hire a hooker on Craigslist, and never, ever pay in advance. The Internet is filled with stories of women (and men) posing as prostitutes who then rob their clients blind and make off with the money. But those stories are nothing compared to the tragedy of 26-year-old Jennifer Papain.
Papain was a prostitute working in Long Island who advertised her services on Craigslist. On March 24, 2010, she was contacted by 23-year-old Chad Johnson. Papain thought nothing of it. Just another night and another job. For $80, she agreed to meet Johnson in his car and take care of their arrangement, but things didn’t go as planned.
Sometime during the rendezvous, Johnson asked for his money back. Papain refused, at which point Johnson got violent. He got his hands around her neck, and before she could scream for help, he was pressing her windpipe shut. He choked her to death and then drove to a wooded area near the Long Island Expressway and buried her body in a shallow grave.
The subsequent investigation into Papain’s disappearance turned up Johnson as the person who’d last seen her alive. A background check revealed that Johnson was something of a serial choker who’d had brushes with the law in the past for assault, and he ended up leading police to the grave he’d dug for Papain.
6Billy Joe Delacey
On a chilly morning on August 11, 2011, Morayma Alejandre waited for hours at the Mesa County, Colorado, bus station where her roommate, Luis Oliva, was supposed to pick her up after a long ride in from Denver. When he never showed, she got worried and called the police.
When deputies arrived at Oliva’s home, they found a grisly scene: Oliva was lying naked on an air mattress in a pool of blood. He’d been clubbed multiple times on the back of the head with a blunt object. Nobody doubted that it was murder, but finding the killer, well, that was a problem.
The investigation quickly revealed that Oliva had been running a “male massage” service on Craigslist. Suspicion then fell on Oliva’s partner, Brandon Wathan, who lived with Oliva. Was it jealousy? A crime of passion? Not likely, since Wathan was working out of town on the night of Oliva’s death. Besides, Wathan had helped Oliva set up the Craigslist sex operation months earlier, when they’d both been unemployed.
Investigators then turned to Craigslist records and email communications with the people whom Oliva had seen, and that’s where they found their answers. All trails seemed to point to one man: an army veteran named Billy Joe Delacey, who’d apparently been Oliva’s last customer before his death. But even that trail soon began to feel like more of a maze.
Delacey first said he’d never gone over to Oliva’s, then he admitted that he had, but he’d left before they’d done anything. He then said he was paying rent at the time of the murder, but all his checks were dated after the killing. Child pornography was found on his computer, but what did that prove, since he’d stolen it in the first place? He said he couldn’t talk to police long because he was soon to be redeployed, but the army hadn’t talked to him since 2008.
The bizarre trail led on and on, but finally, in 2012, Delacey was arrested in Pennsylvania and indicted for first-degree murder.
In 2005, Timothy McDarrah was the editor of a gossip column for US Weekly, and before that, he’d spent more than 15 years as a columnist for the New York Post. He was well known—even respected—among certain journalism circles, but all that came to a crashing halt when he was caught up in an FBI sting operation created to catch pedophiles.
And he wasn’t exactly ambiguous about his desires. In response to a Craigslist post offering New York’s “freshest, youngest girls,” McDarrah said he wanted a “white 14-year-old girl with a ponytail.” So the people behind the ad set him up in a chat room with a 13-year-old named Julie. What he didn’t know was that “Julie” was actually an FBI agent, and after over three months of what was likely some very disturbing conversations, McDarrah agreed to meet with the girl. He even offered to pay her for sex.
What happened next is exactly what you’d expect. The FBI arrested McDarrah on his way to meet Julie, and he received 72 months in jail.
4The Pleasant Hill Nanny
In 1988, she was convicted for robbing a pharmacy in Colorado. Nine years later, she stormed into a drug recovery program with two handguns and demanded prescription pills. When she was told there weren’t any, she took the counselor hostage and spent the next hour taking potshots at the police. She was finally wounded and apprehended when she hid behind a janitor’s cart and used it as “a rolling barricade.” The judge found her not guilty by reason of insanity, and she spent the next six years in a mental hospital.
In short, Diane Warrick was not a woman you wanted taking care of you.
But nobody seemed to be too interested in Warrick’s past when she answered a Craigslist ad to serve as a caregiver for 70-year-old Mary Jane Scanlon in Pleasant Hill, California. Scanlon was confined to a wheelchair, and Warrick’s duties included helping Scanlon eat and getting her in and out of bed. It was all pretty routine.
And then, for no apparent reason, Warrick stabbed Scanlon to death. Police arrested Warrick at a nearby trailer park, and she received 31 years to life in prison. At her trial, Warrick claimed that she’d hallucinated that she was attacking her father when she killed Scanlon.
3The Home Invasion
James Sanders had a pretty sweet diamond ring. When he put it up for sale on Craigslist, he was hoping to bring in at least $1,000, money that might have helped out the family. After he received a reply to the ad, he invited the prospective buyers, a young married couple, over to his house in Edgewood, Washington, so they could have a look at the ring. But all was not as it seemed.
When the couple arrived that night, Sanders was home with his wife and two sons, aged 10 and 14. He let the couple into the house. As soon as they were inside, however, the “husband” pulled out a handgun and ordered everyone to get onto the floor. While they tied up the Sanders family, two more armed men forced their way into the home. One of the new arrivals got rough and smacked Sanders’s 14-year-old son with the barrel of his pistol.
That was more than James Sanders could take. Wrenching himself free of his restraints, he dove at the man who’d hit his son, only to be shot three times. He died in his wife’s arms, in front of his terrified children.
Three days later, a traffic stop in California led to the arrest of three of the suspects: Kiyoshi Higashi, Joshua Reese, and Amanda Knight. A few days later, the fourth suspect, Clabon Berniard, turned himself in in the face of a massive statewide manhunt. The four of them received sentences of 79–123 years in prison.
According to Miranda Barbour, she was 13 years old when she participated in her first murder, a gangland-style execution in a dark alley in Anchorage, Alaska. Under the guidance of the leader of a satanic cult, she shot the man because he hadn’t paid the money he owed. She was already addicted to heroin and was rapidly moving up the ranks of the cult when the court ordered her to go live with her uncle in North Carolina, and for a time, it seemed like life was going back to normal for Miranda.
That’s when she met Elytte Barbour, whom she eventually married. Together, they decided that they wanted to kill someone. They hoped it would bring them closer together.
On November 1, 2013, 18-year-old Miranda Barbour posted a Craigslist personal ad looking for men who “hated their wives.” It wasn’t long before she got a response from Troy LeFerra, a 42-year-old man, and they agreed to meet on the night of November 11.
While her husband hid under a blanket in the back seat, Miranda waited in the front for Troy. They had a signal arranged. Whenever Miranda said, “Did you see the stars tonight,” Elytte was supposed to leap out and hold the man down. And that’s exactly what they did. Elytte slipped a cord around Troy’s neck to strangle him, and Miranda stabbed him over 20 times.
Then, they dumped the body in an alley, washed the car, and they went out for dinner to celebrate. Both of them were arrested the next day, and while in prison, Miranda confessed to killing 22 people in multiple states. Nobody really believes her, though.
1‘I Love You’
On March 18, 2015, Michelle Wilkins was glowing with joy as she made the short trip across town to the house of Dynel Lane. She was 34 weeks pregnant with a little girl, the baby was healthy, and she’d just found a cheap bundle of maternity clothes on Craigslist—just what she needed to cover that ever-growing baby bump. All she had to do was pick them up.
When she reached Lane’s home, Lane led her inside, where the two women talked for about an hour. Then, Wilkins followed Lane into the basement for the clothes, and the pleasant afternoon turned into a horror film. Without warning, Dynel Lane smashed a lava lamp over Wilkins’s head and shoved her onto a bed, then used a shard of glass from the broken lamp to cut Wilkins’s neck. Her hands went to Wilkins’s throat, but there was already too much blood to get a good grip, so she pressed a pillow over Wilkins’s face.
Losing consciousness and terrified for both her life and the life she carried inside her, Wilkins tried one final, desperate plea for compassion: “I love you,” she gasped. Lane grabbed a kitchen knife and replied, “If you love me, you’ll let me do this.” Then she cut Wilkins’s unborn daughter from her womb and left the woman to bleed to death.
Miraculously, Wilkins managed to retain consciousness long enough to dial 911, and she was rushed to surgery at the nearest hospital. And in the same hospital, just down the hall, a woman in the maternity ward tearfully clutched a stillborn child to her breast and told nurses that she’d had a miscarriage. It was only later that the truth came out.
Dynel Lane faces 48 years in prison for the charges.
Eli Nixon is the author of Son of Tesla, the only nationally recognized biography about Nikola Tesla’s years as a psychopathic madman in another dimension. The sequel, Mind of Tesla, is scheduled for release in October.