Florida Craiglist Jobseeker found Dead
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A jobseeker from Florida who responded to a bogus Craigslist ad for a job on a southeast Ohio cattle farm was found dead, buried in a shallow grave, and another from South Carolina was shot but escaped by running away through the woods, a sheriff said Thursday.
Noble County Sheriff Stephen Hannum said two men were taken into custody after cadaver dogs found the body of the Florida man this week in a grave in a remote area outside Caldwell, a small village about 80 miles east of Columbus.
He said the search was undertaken after the South Carolina man escaped from the area on Nov. 6 and notified police, who later found a hand-dug grave authorities believe had been meant for him.
An autopsy on the Florida man was being performed Thursday in Licking County, outside Columbus, and Hannum said names of the suspects and victims were being withheld until at least Friday.
Authorities received a call five days after the South Carolina man was shot from the Florida man's twin sister, concerned that her brother had not been heard from since Oct. 22 in Parkersburg, W.Va., the sheriff said. The twin, in Boston, said her brother had responded to what she believed was the same Craigslist ad, which sought a caretaker for cattle on a 688-acre farm.
The sheriff said he suspected robbery was the motive.
"It seems that this was just a ruse to lure victims into the trap, most likely to commit a murder and relieve the deceased of their personal property," Hannum said.
The sheriff said the call prompted officers to return to the remote area, where they found the grave believed to have been intended for the South Carolina man.
"A grave obviously had been dug that we assume had been dug for him, but he was shot and wounded and he got away," Hannum said. "We brought in cadaver dogs thinking that a possibility that the person that was advertising on Craigslist and lured this guy down here may very well have lured someone else to the same area. Our hunch was correct."
The cadaver search began Monday, and officers found the body the following day.
Hannum said the South Carolina man had hidden in the woods for about seven hours with a gunshot wound to his arm.
The man eventually made his way to a house about 2 miles away. He told police he had been walking in a wooded area with one of the men when he heard a gun cock and turned to see a firearm pointed at his head. He pushed it away and ran. He said multiple shots were fired and he was hit once.
The man said he had met the others for breakfast and later rode with them in a vehicle, believing he was headed to the farm, until he was told a landslide had closed the road and entered the woods on foot.