Police in Happeville, Georgia have charged Tahreem Zeus Rana with allegedly shooting and killing 26-year-old Vernicia Woodard then burning her body in an attempt to destroy evidence. Before his arrest Rana was an Atlanta police officer. He reportedly met his victim on either craigslist or Backpage depending on the source. I haven’t seen any confirmation if Ms. Woodard was a prostitute but that shouldn’t matter. No one should have to bury someone who has been set on fire and possibly burned beyond recognition just so someone could try to throw investigators off their tail.
Thankfully the Happeville police thought more of Ms. Woodard’s life than her killer as they were able to track him from the internet correspondence between the two however Rana fled. He was apprehended at the Atlanta airport before he could board a flight to Mexico.
So far no motive has been given the killing. I’ll post more as details become available. To my recollection this is the first time that a supposed craigslist killer has been a cop.
Earlier today Elytte and Miranda Barbour both pleaded guilty to the murder of Troy LaFerrara. If you’ll recall the Barbour’s hatched a plan to kill someone by luring them through craigslist with promises of sex. They eventually were able to convince Mr. LaFerrera into their SUV where Elytte Barbour strangled their victim with a cord while Miranda Barbour stabbed him to death.
The pair have pleaded guilty to second-degree homicide. The main difference in Pennsylvania between first and second-degree homicide is that first=degree can get you the death penalty while second-degree limits the sentencing to life in prison. Since Pennsylvania hadn’t executed anyone in quite some time I always thought that the chances of them being sentenced to death were slim even though they probably deserve it.
While I was off taking some downtime from the world of crime one of the most horrific craigslist related crimes happened in western Michigan. To be honest I’m having a hard time trying to come up with one that was more violent and cruel.
31-year-old Brady Oestrike of Wyoming, Michigan is believed to have killed 18-year-old Brooke Slocum and her boyfriend 25-year-old Charles Oppenneer. From what I can gather from the media reports Brooke Slocum was in contact with Oestrike through craigslist trying to set up some kind of sex for housing deal on the urging of Oppenneer. It’s unclear exactly what happened next but after the trio had met up Oppenneer’s headless body was found in a nearby park.
An investigation of Brooke’s Slocum’s computer led authorities to Oestrike. When they tried to arrest Oestrike during a high risk traffic stop he fled and shortly afterwards crashed his car. Oestrike took his own life by shooting himself before police could apprehend him. When police opened the trunk they found the body of Brooke Slocum who had been strangled to death. She was also 8 months pregnant at the time of her murder. As of yet Charles Oppenneer’s head has still not been located. Investigators are looking into whether or not Oestrike was connected to any other murders but are saying that nothing is concrete at this point. I am only scratching the surface with my description of this most disturbing crime. Please read the news links that I’ve provided below.
Now I hate to speak ill of the dead and especially a victim of such a violent crime but I have to wonder if maybe Brook was being turned out on craigslist by her boyfriend. Brooke’s own father even said that her relationship with Oppenneer was not healthy…
“I know that love is not manipulation; love is unconditional and that wasn’t the case,” Slocum said. “My daughter deserved better than that.”
I’ve posted more than one story on this site concerning craigslist where boyfriends or husbands have manipulated their significant others into prostitution or pimps have caused women and girls to believe they were their boyfriends while the pimps were just using them as their prostitutes. I’m not saying I’m 100% certain that this is what happened but it is definitely one avenue to explore.
Lastly, once again I find myself trying to warn people to the dangers of craigslist especially when it comes to the seedier parts of the site like the personals and the casual encounters section. Horrible and vicious people like Oestrike are out there waiting for an opportunity to find a victim that craigslist basically brings to their door. I urge you to not be that victim.
There’s only been one winner in the case of 12-year-old Brooke Bennett and her killer and uncle Michael Jacques. It’s definitely not Brooke after being kidnapped, raped and killed by Jacques, a sex offender who was released early after completing a ‘program’. It’s not Jacques either as he’s going to do a life sentence in federal prison. No, the only winner here is Jacques’ anti-death penalty defense attorney David Ruhnke.
Runhke not only held up the trial for years with his anti-death penalty arguments but he got the federal prosecutors and Jacques to agree to a life sentence plea. Now he’s even topped himself by getting a federal judge to agree to send Jacques to a prison in Tucson, Arizona, that has a prison population of 65% sex offenders. Your tax dollars at work. The point being that in any other prison Jacques would be a target by other non-child rapist prisoners.
Once again the rights of the criminal have become more important than the rights of the victim, or justice for that matter.
I originally posted about the murder of Felix DeJesus here. The 39-year-old father of two was gunned down in 2013 while still in his car in Hartford, Connecticut. He was selling a tablet computer and went to meet the seller since the seller said they didn’t own a car. A year passed without an arrest being made although police had a person of interest.
While a lot of transactions take place through craigslist with no incident in my opinion there’s enough that end in tragedy that cause me not to use Craigslist. To me it seems like a game of Russian Roulette anytime someone uses craigslist for no matter what purpose. Eventually someone is going to get the bullet.
UPDATE 6/30/2014: Hartford police have arrested a 2nd suspect in 20-year-old Marvin Mathis. It’s unclear at present what Mathis’ alleged role was in the murder of Felix DeJesus.
Much like the Isla Vista shootings I hadn’t planned on blogging about the recent shootings in Las Vegas that claimed the lives of police officers Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo, and innocent bystander Joseph Robert Wilcox. I figured that better bloggers than me would do a better job.
Then I got the Las Vegas Sun article that I’ve linked to above in my inbox. It said that the shooters had planned on doing the next Columbine. That sort of puts it in my wheelhouse but only peripherally. Then I got a Twitter message from former crime blogger Steve Huff. One of his Twitter followers had sent him the link to the Facebook of Jerad Miller, one of the gunman in the attack. His wife, Amanda Miller, was the other. If you’re expecting me to post a link to his Facebook I don’t do that anymore. I don’t want any of his Facebook friends who probably had nothing to do with their horrible crimes harassed.
Anyway, most of his public Facebook posts were about guns and the legalization of weed which pretty much puts him in the Libertarian camp but I don’t think his politics are what caused him and his wife to shout “This is a revolution” and “We are freedom fighters” before killing three in cold blood. Jerad Miller, and by association probably his wife, was a conspiracy nut. Here are some highlights from his Facebook.
He believed in chemtrails.
And the New World Order.
He was a truther.
And a birther.
In my opinion anyone who believes in these outlandish conspiracy theories are ignorant delusional paranoids who feel the need to blame some imaginary bogeyman for the failures in their own lives. By most accounts it seems that the millers had plenty in theirs.
The Millers are not heroes or revolutionaries. They are what all murderers are, cowards. They cowardly shot and killed two police officers who were just eating their lunch then shot and killed a man who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time before the pair cowardly took their own lives before they could be captured. I’m sure the conspiracy nuts will hail them as martyrs but they’re not. Just cowards.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and families of the victims.
Phillip Chism was 14 when he allegedly rapes his teacher with a tree branch then slashed her throat with a box cutter. He then left the body of 24-year-old Colleen Ritzer of Danvers High School in Danvers, Massachusetts, in the woods then went to a movie.
While the now 15-year-old Chism has been charged as an adult in her murder he’s only been charged as a juvenile in her rapes. I guess that’s why he’s in a Department of Youth Services facility. It’s now being reported that Chism attacked a female employee of the facility in Dorchester. He allegedly followed her into a locker room with what they’re calling a ‘pencil-like’ object. Other than that no details of the attack have been made public yet.
He should not be in a youth services facility, he should be in jail awaiting trial. The crimes that he’s accused of are no joke. He brutally raped and violated and murdered Colleen Ritzer and his latest attack sounds like he was trying for a repeat performance. An alleged murderer and rapist like this should be treated with kid gloves. He should be treated like the butcher and sadist he is.
How sad is it that a craigslist murder took place and it escaped my attention. I probably got it mixed up with one of the other several dozen. What’s even more sad that in that time no one has been brought to justice for the death of Felix DeJesus.
Felix DeJesus, of Hartford, Connecticut, was engaged to be married and a father of two young children. Her was selling two tablet computers on craigslist. Normally he would meet the buyers in public but this buyer said that he didn’t have a car so Felix felt sorry for him according to his fiance and the mother of his children. Sounds like a genuinely nice guy. Unfortunately someone took advantage of Felix’s big heart.
Felix was shot and killed while still sitting in his car. Hartford police have a person of interest but no arrest has been made in the year since Felix’s murder. Hopefully it’s just a case of the police dotting their I’s and crossing their T’s. I hope that Felix’s killer is brought to justice soon.
If you’re selling something on craigslist I would advise you not to. If you decide to anyway I would recommend meeting the buyer at the local police station. That should weed out a lot of potential threats.
It’s been six long years since Michael Jacques brutally raped and murdered his 12-year-old niece, Brooke Bennett. While it hasn’t come to the conclusion I would have hoped it has finally come to a conclusion. After being called a coward by Brooke’s mother when she gave her impact statement to the court Jacques was sentenced to life in prison plus 70 years with no possibility of parole. While Vermont has no death penalty Jacques was looking at a federal death penalty since he used MySpace and the internet to lure Brooke to her death. Last August Jacques pleaded guilty in a move which saw him spared the death penalty.
In a statement at his sentencing Jacques said he was sorry and ashamed. Probably only sorry and ashamed that he got caught.
Jacques was also a registered sex offender who was released early for completing a ‘program’.
Two suspects have been arrested in the shooting death of 29-year-old Tycus Toland of Lexington County, South Carolina. Tolland and his brother were both shot when they met with a pair who said they wanted to buy Vonkeith Toland’s car that he advertised on craigslist. Vonkeith survived his injuries.
The suspects arrested were 22-year-old Justin Antonio Butler and 26-year-old Terry Renee McClure. Butler was arrested in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, while McClure was arrested in Fairfield, California on unrelated charges.
Both are facing first-degree murder charges.
Just two more names to add to the ever-expanding list of craigslist killers.