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October 29, 2007

Craigslist Murder

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 11:18 am

I feel bad writing about this because of the past praise I’ve given to Craiglist, but it’s such a newsworthy item that I can’t really resist the urge.

Last week a 24 year old woman answered a Craiglist ad for a nanny and was later found dead in the trunk of a car. That’s about all the authorities have released so far.

I’ve used the site for many things (no not those things you sicko) and I never even thought about this happening. In hindsight though, it seems like it was only a matter of time.

Does this mean the site is to blame? No, not really. It’s always up to people to do their due diligence when meeting somebody for the first time no matter how they met them. We always talk about the dangers of meeting people online, but the murderer here could have used the newspaper, telephone, television, word of mouth, or simply met somebody at the mall and achieved the same result.

The internet can be a scary place, but it’s no more scarier than the real world, and I believe somebody should always use appropriate cautions when meeting somebody for the first time. In the case of a nanny, it may be appropriate to bring a bigger stronger friend with you when going on that first interview – especially if it’s in the client’s home. (of course, the safer alternative is to simply meet at a local coney island or something)

With that said, I’m now surprised that Craigslist doesn’t have some sort of user registration / verification system or feedback similar to ebay. I’m not saying all users should register, but even an extra “verified user” status would be beneficial. It could even be another revenue stream for the site.

I know that simply knowing the identity of somebody won’t stop them from committing murder if they so choose, but it will deter many from using a system where they have a higher expectation of getting caught.


  1. This is great advice (about the verified user status). Have you emailed Craig about this?

    Comment by Duboiz — October 29, 2007 @ 1:37 pm

  2. Yeah i’m so surprised that they haven’t thought of that already. You should definitely bring it up.

    Comment by Mercy — October 29, 2007 @ 4:46 pm

  3. Hello.

    I use CL often. You are doing well on hits. On the first page of google hits for “craigslist” “murder” as of right now. Very impressive.

    I would interject in regard to your comments toward the security of CL. They guy is already in custody, so the system appears to be fairly good from a detective standpoint.

    What the people at CL need to discuss now is a way to create further preventative controls, but what? User id’s, maybe, but a crazy person could post for a year, garnering any sort of points you can throw at them, and still put out the same sort of “nanny ad” and take out the unsuspecting prospect.

    I say this not to correct you, but to open the dialog a bit further. Your post is nicely written, particularly given its promptness.

    I am interested to hear what others have to say about this issue, and to see how Craig responds. Check this article out http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/internet/06/23/craig.newmark/index.html I found it accidentally, searching CNN for a written story—which they haven’t gotten to print yet. So kudos to you for beating them to the punch as well.

    Have a great day.


    Comment by Sean — October 29, 2007 @ 5:39 pm

  4. Hey Sean. Thanks for stopping in. Yeah they’re good at catching the guy.. but that’s all using private data from behind the scenes.

    Chances are if he knew he had to post under something easily trackable to his real name without ISP logs and subpoenas, it MIGHT have scared him off.

    The real answer though is for people to take more precautions when meeting people offline – like bringing a friend.

    Comment by Ryan — October 29, 2007 @ 5:48 pm

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