An estimated 99,995 of every 100,000 Craigslist posts are not associated with any crime whatsoever, but it’s those five other ones you need to worry about. Since its 1995 inception, the brainchild of Craig Newmark has unwittingly enabled countless thefts, burglaries, robberies, assaults, rapes, STD transmissions, and murders.
People have lost their lives while innocently and good-naturedly conducting transactions involving iPads, iPhones, cars, trucks, and apartments via Craiglist. An unsolved case involves a Long Island serial killer who slaughtered at least four prostitutes he met through Craigslist ads. Currently awaiting trial for stabbing a man to death after ensnaring him on Craigslist is a self-proclaimed Satan-worshiping teen mom from Pennsylvania who says she’s snuffed at least 22 people, which would make her one of the most prolific female serial killers in American history.
The following cases involve people convicted in a court of law after dispatching their prey through this time-tested and well-loved social-networking tool.
1. Phillip Markoff
This clean-cut Massachusetts medical student was suspected of being a serial robber/rapist of at least three women he’d met through Craigslist ads. He was arrested and charged with the 2009 motel-room shooting death of Julissa Brisman, who had posted on Craigslist offering her services as a masseuse. While awaiting trial, Markoff killed himself in his jail cell. A TV movie about his case, The Craigslist Killer, debuted in 2011 on the Lifetime Network.
2. Michael John Anderson
In October 2007, this socially awkward 19-year-old Minnesota high-school dropout placed a Craigslist ad pretending to be a woman named “Amy” who was seeking a babysitter. Twenty-four-year-old pastor’s daughter Katherine Olson answered the ad, whereupon Anderson shot her in the back, stuffed her into her car’s trunk, and drove the car to a nature preserve, where he abandoned it. Anderson was allegedly the first person the media ever referred to as a “Craigslist Killer.”
3. David Sparre
A 19-year-old Georgian who was visiting Florida for his grandmother’s surgery, Sparre contacted a 21-year-old woman who’d advertised for a sexual encounter on Craigslist because her husband was deployed at sea in the Navy. Figuring that stabbing someone to death would be a “good rush,” Sparre met up with the woman and stabbed her 89 times during sex at her apartment. After his arrest, he wrote to an ex-girlfriend, “I wanted to try something just to see how it felt….I’m not even going to lie. I enjoyed it and hope to do it again.”
4. Korena Roberts
Answering a Craigslist ad seeking baby clothes in 2009, Roberts met with a pregnant woman named Heather Snively at the woman’s apartment in Beaverton, OR. Roberts also pretended she was pregnant, and the pair quickly became friends. Then Roberts beat her to death with a police baton. Using a straight razor, she slashed open Snively’s abdomen, cut the unborn child from her womb, stuffed Snively’s body into a crawl space, and then told police that the child was hers and “in distress.” The fetus also died and Roberts was sentenced to life in prison.
5, 6. Richard Beasley & Brogan Rafferty
The chubby, bearded Beasley was in his 50s when he befriended the 16-year-old Rafferty, and together they plotted to murder men they met via Craigslist. This is from the fatal ad they placed:
Wanted: Caretaker For Farm. Simply watch over a 688 acre patch of hilly farmland and feed a few cows, you get 300 a week and a nice 2 bedroom trailer, someone older and single preferred but will consider all, relocation a must, you must have a clean record and be trustworthy…nearest neighbor is a mile away, the place is secluded and beautiful… job of a lifetime.
When one man showed up in response, he did not find a job—he found a “freshly dug grave.” Beasley and Rafferty managed to kill three job-seekers before wounding a fourth, who escaped through the woods. Rafferty was tried as an adult and sentenced to life, while Beasley was handed the death penalty.
7. Latoya Jordan
This Floridian met her victim via Craigslist, moved in with him in 2011, and stabbed him to death during an argument. She lived with his rotting corpse for three weeks while shopping with his credit cards. Then she moved in with another man she met through Craigslist before police apprehended her. She blandly confessed to the killing and showed no remorse.
8, 9, 10, 11. Kiyoshi Higashi, Amanda Knight, Joshua Reese & Clabon Terrel Berniard
Answering a 2010 Craigslist ad offering a diamond ring for sale, this quartet of killers showed up at the Washington home of James Sanders. Upon arrival, they held the family captive and began beating one of Sanders’s children. When Sanders tried to intervene, he was shot to death. The diamond ring was eventually recovered in a San Francisco pawnshop.
12. John Steven Burgess
One of the earliest alleged “Craigslist Killers,” Burgess answered an escort ad from a 19-year-old female San Diego State student in 2007. He told police the girl overdosed on cocaine and heroin, whereupon he reportedly dumped her corpse into the ocean. He only served half of a five-year sentence.
13, 14. George Carter & Kendrick Demus
In June 2007, a Texas man named Christian Marton answered a Craigslist ad for a 1995 Chevrolet Caprice. He met with George Carter and Kendrick Demus at a Whataburger franchise in Dallas. They argued over the price, and Marton left. The sellers renegotiated, and when Marton drove up to an apartment complex with thousands in cash, Carter shot and killed him. Carter and Demus were both convicted of capital murder.
15. John Katehis
A 16-year-old knife collector and self-proclaimed Satanist, Katehis placed a Craigslist ad offering “kinky sex” that was answered by radio broadcaster George Weber in March 2009. Katehis received $60 for binding Weber’s feet with duct tape and “smothering” him. What was apparently not part of the deal was stabbing Weber an estimated 50 times, which Katehis claimed was “accidental.” He was convicted of murder in 2011.
16. Dianne Warrick
A mentally ill woman with a long rap sheet, Warrick answered a Craigslist ad from a 70-year-old female seeking an at-home caregiver. In 2010, Warrick stabbed the 85-pound woman to death in her bed and claimed at trial that she was hallucinating she was attacking her abusive father.
17. Dao Xiong
Seeking car parts, Xiong answered a Craigslist ad in September 2010 from a man in St. Paul, MN who was selling a Nissan 350z. After allegedly taking the seller on a test drive, Xiong shot him with a .40-caliber handgun, dumped his body into a ditch, stripped the car for parts, and installed the shifter and the stereo into his own vehicle. His victim was the father of four children. In a statement, the victim’s surviving wife said, “I feel like I have had the life sucked out of me. My confidence has faded away.” Other surviving family members issued a statement that said, “We are like a small ship on the ocean in a raging storm with no hope on the horizon.”
18. Chad Johnson
A 23-year-old from Long Island, Johnson met up in March 2010 with a 26-year-old female prostitute through Craigslist, paid her $80 for a sex act which was not completed, and demanded his money back. When she refused a refund, he strangled her to death. He eventually led prosecutors to a shallow grave in which he buried her body. Investigators concluded that Johnson is not the Long Island Craigslist serial killer, who still remains at large.
19. Brandon Kent
In August 2010, Kent answered a Craigslist ad in coastal Georgia from a man selling a Ninja Yamaha motorcycle. Upon meeting the seller outside the man’s home, Kent shot him, stole his wallet and cell phone, and drove away on the bike. He was apprehended after a police chase and eventually sentenced to life in prison.
20. Billy Joe Delacey
An Army veteran from Colorado, Delacey answered an escort ad for a “male-on-male massage advertisement show” in August 2011 and wound up killing the male escort in what was presumably a moment of passion. He pleaded guilty to reckless manslaughter.
21. Ali Salim
Salim was an Ohio emergency-room physician and Pakistani citizen who had a habit of posting on Craigslist seeking sexual encounters with women. In 2012, a 23-year-old woman who was nine months pregnant and financially desperate answered his ad. He allegedly injected her leg with a fatal shot of heroin, reportedly recorded himself having sex with her after she nodded out, and left her corpse in a car on a rural road. Salim pleaded guilty to two counts of involuntary manslaughter—that of the woman and her fetus—and only “took issue” with the idea that he’d raped her.
22. Steven Lewis
Already a four-time felon at age 26, Lewis offered to sell an iPhone to 19-year-old computer-science student Aung Thu Bo in St. Paul, MN one afternoon in 2012. Upon meeting at a restaurant, Lewis said he’d left the phone and the charger at his house, which he said was right around the corner. Lewis got in Bo’s backseat, and as the car was moving, he pulled out a handgun and held it to Bo’s head. While Lewis was searching Bo’s pockets from the backseat, his gun went off and a bullet struck Bo in the head, eventually killing him. The car rolled to a stop, Lewis escaped, and with Bo’s girlfriend screaming, a witness called police. Lewis confessed to the killing but maintained that he’d shot Bo accidentally.
23, 24, 25. Rashon Abernathy, Seandell Jones & Shaquille Jordan
Late one night in May 2011, this teenage trio answered an ad from a recent high-school grad who was seeking to buy a MacBook Pro. Eighteen-year-old Garrett Berki and his girlfriend showed up in the San Diego neighborhood of Paradise Hills to buy the laptop, whereupon they were robbed of $600 and their cell phones. After the robbers made a getaway in a stolen car, Berki and his girlfriend gave chase in their vehicle and eventually caught up with their assailants in a cul-de-sac, at which point Abernathy fatally shot Berki. All three robbers were convicted of first-degree murder.
26, 27. Alexander D. Lyons & Lamar Clemons
In February 2011, a 19-year-old male from Michigan posted on Craigslist that he sought to buy a cell phone. Detroit resident Alexander Lyons, 19, responded and offered to sell an Android for $95. His accomplice, 23-year-old Lamar Clemons, drove Lyons to pick up a .380-caliber gun for their planned robbery. Instead of merely robbing his prey, Lyons shot him. Lyons and Clemons were both convicted of first-degree murder.
28. Willie Donaldson
In December 2008, Matthew Hicks of Virginia placed a Craigslist ad seeking a man to have sex with his female friend while he watched. Donaldson replied and offered to host in his private house that featured a Jacuzzi, adding that he would “love to play.” Upon arrival, Hicks’s female friend allegedly passed out in Donaldson’s hot tub, whereupon Hicks began beating Donaldson, who grabbed a gun and fatally shot him. Arguing that his act was in self-defense, Donaldson pleaded guilty to manslaughter and only received a suspended sentence.
29. Alejandro Hernandez Rivera
A male hooker who routinely advertised his wares online, Rivera hooked up with a 66-year-old retired bank employee named Theodore Neff one night in 2008 via a Craigslist ad. He strangled his victim to death, set his house ablaze, and escaped with a cache of Neff’s valuable silver and gold flutes. He was nabbed after attempting to sell the flutes back to their manufacturer. Rivera said he became enraged after Neff told him their sexual encounter might have exposed him to HIV. He was found guilty of first-degree murder.
30. Bernard Lamp
Previously convicted for violations such as robbery, assault, and “crimes against nature,” this grizzled Ohioan placed a Craigslist ad in 2008. A woman named Bonnie Lou Irvine answered the ad, whereupon Lamp murdered her, buried her body in the backyard of a home in which Lamp was known to reside, and proceeded to use her car without even bothering to change the license plate. He was convicted of first-degree murder all while maintaining his innocence.