Man Tried to Use Craigslist to Lure, Kill Woman, Police Say

Police say Seattle man posted an ad seeking a woman to have sex with and kill.

ByABC News
April 29, 2009, 4:15 PM

April 30, 2009— -- A Seattle man was charged with conspiracy to commit murder on Wednesday after police say he posted an ad on the Web site Craigslist looking for a woman to have sex with and then kill.

The ad appeared in the "casual encounters" section of the Seattle Craigslist personal ads with the title, "A strange desire."

According to police, Shawn Tyler Skelton, 24, posted the ad, saying he wanted to have sex with a woman and then kill her. "Serious inquires only," the ad said, according to the police affidavit.

Police say they set up a sting, exchanging e-mails with Skelton and arranging for him to meet a supposed victim at a local motel, after a Craigslist employee reported the ad.

Police claim that in their e-mails with Skelton, he negotiated the amount of money he would be paid and alluded to the way he would kill the victim. Police say they arranged to meet him at a motel, where he was arrested Monday on suspicion of attempted murder after he arrived at the motel with a knife, a length of heavy chain and two long shoelaces.

Skelton allegedly confessed to planning to go through with the murder after he was arrested, police say.

The King County Prosecutor's Office charged Skelton with conspiracy to commit murder in the second degree. He remains in the King County jail on $1 million bail, with arraignment scheduled for May 13.

If convicted as charged, his sentence could range from 92 to 165 months in prison.

The arrest comes amid a series of high profile incidents involving the popular Web site, known for its sometimes anything goes atmosphere. Boston police have accused Philip Markoff, 23, of using Craigslist to lure two women to upscale hotels, where he allegedly robbed them and killed one of them. Investigators believe Markoff contacted the alleged victims through Craigslist ads in which they offered erotic massages. Markoff, who has been dubbed the "Craigslist Killer" by the media, has pleaded not guilty.

Earlier this month, Michael John Anderson, 20, of Savage, Minn., was sentenced to life in prison for killing Katherine Ann Olson, who had responded to an ad for a nanny that Anderson placed on the site. And New York radio reporter George Weber was stabbed 50 times in his Brooklyn apartment earlier this year, allegedly murdered by a man who answered Weber's ad on Craigslist offering $60 for "rough sex."

The incidents have caught the attention of law enforcement, who say many of the site's "erotic services" posts are nothing more than prostitution ads. In an effort to curtail prostitution, Craigslist reached a settlement with 40 state attorneys general in November to require strippers and escort services to pay a fee with a credit card to post ads.

This week, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan accused the company of violating the agreement by failing to develop an effective screening process to prevent the posting of illegal ads. In a letter, Madigan urged the company to immediately shut down the "Erotic Services" section of the site, saying, "it is clear that the erotic services section continues to facilitate the exploitation of women in Illinois and in states across the nation."

She also demanded to know how much money the site is making off its "erotic services" ads.