Mon, Jan 28, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Woman jailed for trying to source hit man online


The job posting said "freelance," and the employer was looking for a killer applicant.

A Michigan woman is behind bars and facing extradition to Northern California, where FBI agents say she advertised on Craigslist, an online bulletin board, for someone willing to kill the unsuspecting wife of a man she had begun an affair with online.

Ann Marie Linscott, 49, offered US$5,000 for the hit, had the name and work address of the woman she wanted dead and in e-mails with stunned job seekers described successful candidates as "silent assassins," according to agents and court documents.

"I've seen some screwy things, but I've personally never heard of anything like this," said Drew Parenti, special agent in charge of the Sacramento FBI office. "For a person to advertise openly for a hit man on Craigslist."

It is not the first crime ever solicited over the popular site. Craigslist has gained some level of notoriety for ads posted by prostitutes and the killing of a Minnesota woman last year who responded to an ad for a baby sitter. However, authorities and company officials say the murder-for-hire scheme appears to be the first of its kind.

Agents arrested Linscott, whom they say went by Ann Marie and used the simple alias "Marie," on Thursday at her home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Federal prosecutors will ask a judge tomorrow to make her stand trial in California.

A call to Linscott's court-appointed public defender was not immediately returned on Saturday.

Linscott's generic "freelance" ad gave no further details about the job, authorities said.

Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster said he understood her intention was only communicated to those who e-mailed her seeking additional information about the job.

"Out of 550 million classified ads posted over 12 years, this is the first such incident that we're aware of," Buckmaster wrote in an e-mail to the press. "But again, the ad itself was generic, and we're not a party to subsequent private e-mail communications."

Linscott allegedly asked respondents to "eradicate a female living in Oroville, California," and she provided additional information on the intended victim, including her physical description, age and employment address. On two separate occasions following the November ad posting, she offered payment of US$5,000 upon completion of "the eradication task," court documents show.

Working with local Butte County authorities, the FBI identified the intended victim and her husband, Parenti said.

Parenti said the husband, whose name was not released, acknowledged meeting Linscott through an online college course over two years ago, forging an intimate relationship with her online and rendezvousing at a hotel room for two days in Reno, Nevada, in 2005. Linscott had also met him near the couple's home, about 113km north of the state capital.

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