COLUMBUS, Ohio - A jobseeker who responded to a fake job ad on the Craigslist website has been found buried in a shallow grave, and another was shot but escaped by running away through the woods.
Craigslist, whose sites around the world feature free ads for housing, jobs, items for sale and services, has been blamed for a number of deaths in the U.S. in recent years, and founder Craig Newmark has urged people to take precautions when using the site.
In the latest case, Sheriff Stephen Hannum said two men were taken into custody after cadaver dogs found the body of a Florida man this week in a grave in a remote area in Ohio.
Hannum said the search started after another man from South Carolina escaped from the area on Nov. 6 and notified police, who later found a hand-dug grave authorities believe had been meant for him.
The Akron Beacon Journal newspaper identified the two as a 16-year-old student and a 52-year-old man. The adult is in jail on $1 million bond, the newspaper said.
Hannum said the South Carolina man had been told to carry his belongings to Ohio because he'd be living at the farm where the fake job was offered, and robbery was believed to be the motive.
“It seems that this was just a ruse to lure victims into the trap, most likely to commit a murder and relieve the deceased of their personal property,” Hannum said.
“We brought in cadaver dogs thinking that a possibility that the person that was advertising on Craigslist and lured this guy down here may very well have lured someone else to the same area. Our hunch was correct” he said.
The cadaver search began Monday, and officers found the body the following day. The suspects were arrested Wednesday.
Hannum said it was unknown how long the ad had been online or how many people may have responded.
He said the South Carolina man hid in the woods for about seven hours with a gunshot wound to his arm. He told police he had been walking in a wooded area with one of the men when he heard a gun cock and turned to see a firearm pointed at his head. He pushed it away and ran. He said multiple shots were fired and he was hit once.
The man said he had met the others for breakfast and later rode with them in a vehicle, believing he was headed to the farm, until he was told a landslide had closed the road and entered the woods on foot.