FindLaw Blotter - The FindLaw Crime and Criminals Blog

"Craigslist Crimes" Piling Up: Will Recent Horrifying Examples Spur Action?

The hits just keep on coming against Craigslist it appears. By now, most people have probably heard about the so-called "Craigslist killer", Philip Markoff, who is alleged to have arranged for meetings with individuals advertising on Craigslist while targeting them for robbery. Over the course of just the last week, however, two stories may well have blown that one way out of the proverbial water, at least if depravity is the measure.

First came the story of not-so-loving husband "Travis" of North Carolina who allegedly hired someone on Craigslist to rape his wife while he watched (his name was withheld to protect his wife/victim). Then if that wasn't bad enough, over the weekend CNN reported on Korena Elaine Roberts of Oregon, who police suspect lured pregnant 21-year-old Heather Megan Snively to a horrifying end, apparently in the hopes of stealing her unborn child (the child tragically died, too).

An ABC story today noted the possibility of a Craigslist-born link between Korena Roberts and Snively, which was fairly innocent at first glance. Snively was simply looking for some baby clothes for her unborn son. Also, it wasn't until after weeks of communication between Heather Snively and Roberts that the murder occurred.

As a result of the negative press coverage in the Craigslist killer case, plus perhaps also threatened action by state attorneys general, Craigslist has since eliminated its "Erotic Services" ad placement category and replaced it with a modified version. However, the risks of conducting transactions with individuals people meet online obviously still exist.

To be fair to Craigslist, there's probably not a whole lot to be done about a husband who's out to betray his wife in the manner that "Travis" is alleged to have done. Nevertheless, attorneys general already scrutinizing the site may use this example to take another shot at its "adult services" advertisements. However, the horrifying case of Korena Elaine Roberts again illustrates the potentially tragic risks faced in soliciting conducting person-to-person transactions or services online. Whether shopping for baby clothes or soliciting other services online, it bears repeating that people should definitely avoid doing so: a) alone; and b) in private.

Roberts is facing the charge of murdering Snively, and could very well end up charged for murdering the unborn infant too. "Travis" is in jail on multiple sex offense charges, including rape (his solicitation could count even if he didn't commit the act). The suspect who actually committed the act has not been caught yet, although police have indicated it's just a matter of time.