It looked like a car crash.
But when officers walked up to the car to investigate on Feb. 9, 2015 in Marietta, Ga., they found a dead man at the wheel, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. And it was no car accident, Marietta police said: The victim’s shoes had been taken, and he had been shot.
Clark Atlanta University student James Jones Jr., 21, had been lured into a robbery by a Craigslist advertisement promising an iPhone 6, police told the Journal Constitution. There never was a phone, though.
“It was set up for them to rob whoever showed up,” Marietta Police Officer David Baldwin told the newspaper.
When Jones showed up at the residence in Marietta where he planned to buy the phone, he encountered three men. After they stole Jones’ phone from him, they shot him with a .45-caliber handgun, prosecutors said.
Then they stole his Nikes off his feet, and shot him again, according to prosecutors.
On Tuesday, a jury in Cobb County, Ga. convicted Kalynn Shiquez Ruthenberg, 24, for the shooting and killing Jones in 2015, Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds wrote in a statement on Facebook.
When he’s sentenced on Nov. 20, Ruthenberg faces life in prison, the district attorney said.
“This was a very sad situation where a young man needlessly lost his life,” Reynolds said in a statement. “We encourage all citizens who conduct transactions based on Craigslist advertising to make sure they meet the sellers or buyers at their local police precincts.”
While it’s hard to pinpoint the number of crimes associated with Craigslist, more than 100 people may have been murdered following interactions on the site by 2016, according a Washington Post story citing data from the Advanced Interactive Media Group, an industry watchdog.
“Their attitude is, ‘We’re safe, we have billions of safe transactions’ — sure they do,” Peter Zollman, founding principal of the AIM Group, told the Post. “But every single day, there are also rapes, robberies and murders linked to Craigslist. And that is a serious issue.”
But it’s not just Craigslist: In July, two North Carolina 15-year-olds were charged with murder after allegedly luring a college baseball player to his death using an online sales app, the Charlotte Observer reported.
Reynolds, the Cobb County district attorney, said that Ruthenberg was found guilty on a number of charges, including malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery, violation of Georgia’s street gang act, firearms possession and robbery.
Reynolds is associated with the Crips, Reynolds said.
Two other codefendants — Jordan James Baker, 21, and Jonathon O’Neil Myles, 22 — are also in custody, with charges pending, prosecutors said.
And Jones’ death wasn’t the first time the trio allegedly tried to lure someone into a robbery with a Craigslist ad, according to WSB-TV.
Shortly after Jones’ murder, Thomas Tuffa told the TV station that he met up with the three suspects mere hours before they allegedly killed Jones.
But when they appeared nervous, wouldn’t show him the phone and demanded money, Tuffa jumped in his car and drove away, he told the TV station.
“It’s a miracle,” Tuffa said.
Tuffa told WSB-TV that he realized he’d narrowly survived when he saw the murder suspects on the news — and recognized their faces.
Jones had been a junior chemistry major at the university, according to the Associated Press.
“He was a great man — well-dressed, humble,” Brenard Williams, captain of the school’s football team, which he played on with Jones, told WSB-TV. “He really represented the school well. I’m just sad he had to leave this way.”