Craigslist Diamond Murder: How to Protect Yourself
Jim Sanders, 43, Was Killed in Home Invasion After Listing a Diamond Ring on Craigslist
By NEAL KARLINSKY, SHARDE MILLER and LEE FERRAN
May 6, 2010
Jim Sanders opened his door on April 28 to total strangers in hopes of making a deal for a diamond ring he listed for sale on Craigslist.
Instead, police say the Edgewood, Wash., 43-year-old watched his family beaten before he was shot and killed in cold blood. The suspected thieves, three men and a woman, made off with the ring, which was a family heirloom, and other valuables. Three of the four suspects have been captured, according to police.
Sanders' widow, Charlene Sanders, was overcome with emotion when she faced the woman who allegedly helped attack her family in court Wednesday.
"It was a complete nightmare," Sanders told reporters. "It's really sad that there's so much evil. I mean there's a lot of good in this world -- and I've seen the good -- but when I saw her I started to shake because I thought, 'Oh, they took my husband from me.'"
Sanders said the four suspects came to her home, saying they wanted to negotiate the price of the ring. But then one pulled a gun and the other two stormed into the home. Soon, Charlene, Jim and their two sons were tied up.
"They ripped my wedding ring off my finger," she said. "I kept saying 'take it, take anything you want.' I was screaming but I didn't care. Just take it all. I won't even say a thing."
It was when the couple's 14-year-old son tried to intervene that his father broke loose to help.
"My husband was a hero," Sanders said. "He always said he [will] protect his family. He always told the boys that he'll always protect his family. And he died protecting his family."
Police identified the last suspect at large in the robbery-homicide Wednesday as 23-year-old Clabon Terrel Berniard. Three other suspects pleaded not guilty in court Wednesday, ABC News' Seattle affiliate KOMO reported. A nationwide arrest warrant has been issued for Berniard on charges of first-degree murder, first degree robbery and second-degree assault.
It's not the first time Berniard's been in the public eye. In 2007 police recognized him and another person as local heroes for saving two people from a house fire, KOMO reported.
Police believe the Craigslist connection was not a coincidence, but the group's plan all along.
"These people were casing Craigslistings with this intent," Ed Troyer of the Pierce County Sheriff's Department told ABC News. "Their intent was never to buy that ring. Their intent was to go there and commit a robbery. All four of them had weapons and they had the tools to tie them up."
Tips for Keeping Your Family Safe When Dealing Online
While there have been several reported crimes linked to online commerce, there are steps buyers and sellers can take to stay safe during transactions.
The following online buying and selling tips were provided by Dan Clements and Owen Rubin, private security specialists.
Pick a public place to meet to make the exchange. If it's a small item, try a coffee shop. For something bigger, a grocery store parking lot can work.
Do not list a home phone or address in your listing.
If you're a seller, set a specific time and place to make the exchange.
If the object is particularly large, consider using a consignment shop to show it.
Avoid letting people in your home during sales.
The Craigslist site also lists some safety tips. Check those out below.
Tell a friend or family member where you're going.
Take your cell phone along if you have one.
Consider having a friend accompany you.
Trust your instincts.