California Public Records Laws

Accessing and inspecting public records is deemed a statutory right in California’s Public Records Act (CPRA). Any individual, partnership, corporation or limited liability company, either within California or not, can request access to public records without any explanation of intent. The governmental bodies covered by this law range from state offices, departments and divisions to school districts, municipal corporations and government officials.

Information is considered public record if it directly relates to the conduct of the public’s business and has been prepared, utilized, stored or owned by any local or state agency. In addition, the medium in which the information was stored does not have any bearing over its status as a public record. However, an agency may refuse access to their records if they believe that withholding the information will serve the public in a greater capacity than allowing it to be seen.

There is a specific exception to the openness of California’s public records law, which states that if the address of someone who has been arrested or has been a victim of a crime is being requested, then there must be an explanation as to what purpose the records will serve if released. In order for the request to be granted, the records must be used for scholarly, journalistic, political or governmental purposes, and it must also be declared that the information will not be used in order to sell a service or product.

For further information regarding the release and accessibility of California public records, examine the complete text of the California Public Records Act.

California Criminal Records, Arrest Records and Background Checks

California criminal records are available through multiple law enforcement controlled databases. The records within these databases may offer public criminal records, police records and Federal criminal records.

The California Department of Justice is responsible for processing fingerprint-based background checks. In the past few years, the number of requests for background checks going through the California Department of Justice has increased drastically since many employers have discovered they can be requested for hiring purposes.

California Jail and Inmate Records

Jail, incarceration, prison, and inmate records are found in the same law enforcement run databases as California’s other criminal records. They are also available for search in the same name-based fashion.

More information regarding California’s jail and inmate records can be found within California’s Victim Notification Service (VINE) Profile.

California Court Records

California court records for the state and local level are made available for public inspection by the Judicial Council of California. Any public court record can be requested for viewing, however in some cases requests will be denied. These cases include any instance wherein a record is deemed exempt from public disclosure.

The judicial council does not, however, maintain any records, criminal histories or documents that are related to specific cases that have been filed in the Superior Court system of California. In order to gain access to these documents, individuals interested in seeking out these documents should send their request to the California Superior Court directly.

Request forms for California Court Records can be accessed on the California Courts section of the California Government website. Once completed, these request forms should be delivered to the Public Access to Records Project by mail, fax or email.

California Vital Records

The California Department of Public Health processes requests for birth, death, marriage and divorce records. Birth and death records are on file from 1905 to present day. In addition to birth and death records, fetal death and stillborn death records are also available from the California Department of Public Health.

Requests for these records can be made on the California Department of Public Health website.

If you need an employment background check in California, certain issues may arise. Read on for more info:
An employment background check is something an employer can use to learn more information about a possible new hire. Employment background checks are a form of screening that companies use to gather information regarding financial, criminal, and commercial records during the hiring process. Background checks can be used to help employers prevent work place violence, falsified credentials, and embezzlement. Those who are seeking employment in California must be aware that may have to undergo an in depth screening before they can be fully offered certain positions.

General Requirements for California Background Checks

In every state around the country there are specific requirements an applicant must meet when being considered for an employment position. Many states have requirements that can make the job hunt every more strenuous. Similar to their easygoing residents, California’s legislation has enforced a few more relaxed rules when conducting background checks. For example, in the state of California, an employer cannot seek information on an arrest unless it resulted in a conviction or the applicant is pending trial.

Also, an employer has limitations for the information that is usable. In California companies are only permitted to use convictions within the past seven years when conducting an employment screening. This allows for applicants with minor charges or out of date convictions to be considered with much less bias.


Most importantly employers must keep in mind that potential candidates must first give written consent for employers to run a background check. They must also share the results with the candidate and notify them if they do not receive the job based on the information in the report.

Special Requirements

Although a criminal check can seem intimidating to many applicants, it can be an extremely helpful tool in the hiring process. Employment screenings are especially accommodating when the position is dealing with vulnerable citizenry such as the elderly, young children and dependent adults. Applicants who are looking for work in fields such as healthcare, education, or government will be required to submit to some form of screening. Positions in the healthcare industry require a lot of consideration because those in healthcare facilities are reliant upon honest and trustworthy staff members.

For example, an employer at a healthcare facility could only conduct a screening for driving records if the job is for a driving position. Also applicants for positions in the healthcare industry can only be questioned by employers about sex related arrests if they will be working with patients. Similar laws are in place for potential employees who have access to medications; employers can question the candidate if they have a history of drug related arrest.

Employers in healthcare facilities are allowed to have access to certain records to ensure that their employees are well-equipped to fulfill their duties efficiently. The state of California is also up to date with the latest form of employment screening, fingerprint analysis. Fingerprint based background screenings are known to be the most comprehensive method of pre-employment screening.

The California Health and Safety Code require that all applicants, licensees, and volunteers must submit to a fingerprint screening during the employment process. Fingerprint analysis is one of the most widely used methods for pre-employment screening because fingerprints cannot be forged.

What shows up on a background check?

Californian employers in certain industries are fully permitted to perform background screening on prospective candidates. Although it is legal to conduct background checks, employers must receive consent before performing any screening and employers are also required to inform the candidate of the results. There are other restrictions that have been placed on criminal checks in the state of California.

California Employment Screening Limitations

There are limitations as to what can be shown on an employment background check. Under the California Labor Code any arrest or detention that did not result in conviction or criminal records that have been sealed, expunged, or dismissed is not usable information during the hiring process. Sealed criminal records are ones that are not accessible by anyone without a court order. Expunging criminal records refers to the process of “cleaning up” a background check.  If a potential candidate has a criminal past and their records fall under the previous categories, that information will not appear on a background check.

Employers however, can ask questions about any conviction and any pending arrests that are shown. The state of California does not differentiate between misdemeanors and felonies, both are displayed on an employment screening. Unfortunately, some mistakes that were made in the past can be shown on California background checks. For example, if an applicant has offenses that occurred when they were a Juvenile, that information is legally usable by employers during the hiring process.

California criminal checks only show crimes that go back 7 years prior and this includes convictions. However, if an applicant is seeking a position in the law enforcement, elderly care, and finance fields their potential employer has the right to check crimes that go back further than 7 years. These specific regulations are vital because they allow the hiring process to remain fair yet very selective.

Credit Reports in California

One of methods many companies use when screening for potential candidates is to run credit reports and learn more about the applicant’s financial history. Credit reports can be very useful because they display one’s financial and personal decisions. Credit reports provide employers with a plethora of information including an applicant’s full name, birthplace, social security number, and employment history. Often time’s companies can be discriminatory against applicants with poor credit history because they feel as if it can indicate irresponsibility and potential embezzlement activity. This can be troublesome for individuals who have landed in unfortunate financial situation such as an unexpected automotive accident, divorce, or medical bills. Fortunately in CA. an employer cannot review consumer credit reports for the purpose of employment with the exception of certain financial institutions. A company in California can only review consumer credit reports on those applying for managerial, Department of Justice, and law enforcement positions. Applicants in this field are carefully selected mainly because they have access to monetary fund’s thus requiring a candidate who can be trusted.

It is so important that prospective hires are aware of the requirements they must meet when seeking employment in California. The state has set specific criteria for their employees as they wish to create a healthy, trusting, productive work environment. Failure to meet a company’s employment guidelines could result in a missed job opportunity, so employees should always be qualified, prepared, and knowledgeable when applying for any position.


A Midwestern state, Minnesota was created from the eastern section of the Minnesota Territory and is bordered by Lake Superior and Canada to the north.  Minnesota is the 12th largest state in the U.S., and nearly 60 percent of its 5.4 million residents live in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, also known as the Twin Cities.  With a diverse landscape and an even more diverse population, Minnesota has a lot to offer its residents and has long made provisions for the sharing of its records with the public.

Minnesota Public Records Laws

The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (MGDPA) was originally passed in 1974 and amendments were made in 1993.  The Act is found in Chapter 13 of the Minnesota Statutes, and the law imposes some of the highest sanctions of any other state against those who knowingly violate its provisions, with damages allowed up to $15,000 per incident.

Under the Act, “any person” may request public records in Minnesota and this includes individuals, corporations, and their legal representatives.  The reason for the application does not need to be stated, except in matters of potential invasion of privacy, and the use of the records once obtained is unrestricted.

Records that are covered by the Act include those from all state agencies, including the executive branch.  The legislative and judicial branches are not included although some legislative records are available, and the Rules of Public Access apply to the disclosure of court records.  Records that cannot be obtained, or are exempt, include:

  • Educational records
  • Medical records
  • Investigatory records
  • Security-related data
  • Sealed ballots
  • Library records
  • Welfare data
  • Foster care information
  • Domestic abuse data

Minnesota Criminal Records, Arrest Records and Background Checks

Background checks in Minnesota are administered by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA).  The department has an open-access website where any member of the public can do a public records search on anyone else for free, and the results will return a 15-year criminal history for the state of Minnesota.  However, if the report is to be used for employment, housing, or credit purposes, the applicant must be informed in writing of this.  A more complete check, including a search of FBI records, can be done when a signed consent is received.

Minnesota Jail and Inmate Records

To find information on the correctional facilities in the state of Minnesota, services for victims, and to search for an offender, you can visit the state Department of Corrections website.  To locate an offender in the system, you’ll want to search on the Offender Locator page with either a MnDOC Offender ID or a Name and Date of Birth.  You’ll be given the offender’s current location, sentence date, offense information, and estimated earliest release date.

Minnesota Court Records

To locate any information on the courts or court cases in the state of Minnesota, you can search the administrator of the courts website.  The Minnesota Public Access (MPA) website allows the public to search for such things as trial, civil, family, and criminal case records, wills deposited with the court, and appellate court cases.  Full case files may need to be requested from the courthouse where the case was heard.

Minnesota Vital Records

Vital records in Minnesota in the form of birth and death certificates are administered by the Minnesota Department of Health, Office of Vital Records.  Birth certificates are available from 1900 to present and death certificates from 1908 to present.   You must show “tangible interest” to receive any of these documents in Minnesota.  This means proving that you are either listed on the certificate or are a relative, legal guardian, legal representative, or business with an interest.  To request either of these in Minnesota, you can do the following:

  • In Person: You can only apply for a birth or death certificate in person at a local county office if they offer this service.   The main Office of Vital Records does not provide walk-in service.
  • By Mail:   You can mail a complete application with payment and the required documentation to: Minnesota Department of Health, Central Cashiering – Vital Records, P.O. Box 64499, St. Paul, MN 55164
  • Email:  Fax your completed application with the required documentation to 951-201-5740.

Marriage certificates and divorce decrees are only available from the county in which the event took place.  Procedures to request these and dates available will vary depending on the location.

If you’re looking to perform employment background checks in Minnesota, or to screen potential hires, there are certain restrictions you may need to file. Read on for more info.

There are certain states, such as California, New York and Wisconsin, which are considered to be pro-jobseeker states when it comes to background check laws. Minnesota is also a state that falls into this job-seeker friendly category. These states don’t have laws that completely prohibit the use of background checks and the information obtained to determine whether someone is hireable or not; however, it does place certain limitations on the background check process and the extent that the information can be used to determine whether a person is hireable.

The Important Role of Background Checks

Immediate access to the pertinent background information of applicants has totally revolutionized the human resources industry. The capacity to almost immediately gain access to a broad range of personal and even private data, provides these companies with a wealth of data through which they can develop a rather lucid portrait of potential employees. However, the challenge is determining how much access is too much, as well as determining just what a company can use or not use in their decision making process.

This is why states go to great lengths to protect job seekers from companies that will abuse the background check process without handcuffing the businesses completely. There are some states with very loose laws that provide a great deal of latitude for companies to use background checks in their hiring process, while other states place more emphasis on protecting the rights and privacy of the job seeker. Minnesota falls under the latter category.

The Diverse Nature of a Background Check

Obviously, one of the most common areas of concern when it comes to background checks is criminal history. For the purpose of protecting employees, clients and company property and assets, companies place a significant amount of gravity on criminal history. Although having a criminal history does not automatically bar a person from employment, it can create challenges, depending on the type of crime that was committed, as well as how long ago the crime was committed.

Under Minnesota law, any company that is functioning as a business screening service may only disseminate criminal history that is reflective of a person’s accurate and complete record. Ultimately, this means that any data that is provided to a company as a part of a criminal background check must have been updated no later than 30 days prior to the information being passed on to the company requesting the background check. The law also requires that this data be verified with the primary data source within the last 90 days. Companies providing business screening services or employment criminal background checks must allow any person that this is the subject of a background check to dispute the criminal history that is revealed on any report that is being distributed to a business requesting information on the subject.

Dealing with Juvenile Records

When it comes to conducting a background check on juveniles, the law only allows access to a juvenile’s prior criminal history as a prerequisite for specific types of employment in specific occupations or for specified noncriminal justice system purposes. Occupations in which public safety is an issue or jobs that involve other minors are a couple of the categories that apply here.

Ban the Box Protections

Ban the box protection laws were first enacted in Minnesota is 1974, and they were most recently amended in 2013. These laws provide specific limitation on the ability of companies to access and use a person’s criminal history as a basis for denying employment. These restrictions apply to public and private employers and licensing agencies. One law prohibits the consideration of a person’s criminal history until that person has been selected for an interview. This law is designed to ensure that criminal history cannot be used solely as a disqualifying criteria for potential employees. For a person to be selected for an interview suggests that they have, at least, met the minimum requirements for the job.

When it comes to licensing decisions and public employment, no government agency can consider any criminal record that is not followed by a conviction, expunged convictions or misdemeanor convictions in which no jail sentence can be imposed.

Additionally, when it comes to public employment, a person cannot be denied employment based on criminal history unless the offense in question is directly associated with the position that the person is applying for. To ensure that this particular statute is followed, there are specific provisions and criteria that must be met by the employer to prove direct association.

When it comes to licensing, any person that is covered by these statutes that is rejected must be provided a notice of the reasons why they were rejected. The licensing agency must also include information on the statutory complaint and grievance process and the earliest day that the applicant can reapply. Where applicable, the agency must also make the applicant aware of the fact that any evidence of rehabilitation will be considered for future applications.

Occupations and Activities Serving Children

When it comes to occupations that focus on serving children, the state of Minnesota requires a mandatory background check. For instance, any person offered employment in a position by a school that is serving children from Kindergarten through 12th grade must clear a criminal background check, including athletic and extracurricular activity coaches and teachers.

In this case, there is no limit on the look-back period, meaning that the background check can go back as far as necessary. This normally includes instate and out-of-state sources.

There are some exceptions to the mandatory statute. For instance, the hiring authority does not have to request a background check for someone who has received their license within the last 12 months. The hiring authority also has the option to use a background check that has been conducted by another school or hiring authority if the background check was conducted in the last 12 months.

This statute also allows for the termination of those who were hired pending the results of their background check. The statute also requires that the applicant provide a money order or check payable to BCA or the hiring authority for the purpose of covering the cost of the background check.

Although this statute mandates a background check, it does not prohibit the hiring authority from hiring someone with a criminal history, and the hiring authority will not be held liable for terminating or failing to hire an individual based on the results of the background check.

For those who are applying to work on a volunteer basis at institutions that serve children from kindergarten to 12th grade, background checks are optional and left to the discretion of the hiring authority.

Outside of the statutes that impact individuals who are applying for positions involving children, the background check laws in Minnesota overwhelmingly favor the job-seeker. The idea is to protect the privacy of individuals as well as protect against the proclivity of companies to refuse employment to individuals with criminal histories.

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Church Background Checks for Volunteers

Any sort of organization that has constant interaction with children is going to require some sort of background check or screening. In Churches, where there is so much focus on the youth ministry and schools, screening is required of all volunteers.

Here are the following steps you need to take to protect your ministry from those who wish to do harm to children

Establish a Background Check Process in Your Ministry

Your state may have specific requirements for your church, including fingerprinting. Check with your attorney or State Police before you begin the process.

  1. Establish who must undergo a background check
  2. Figure out what type of background check you are going to run.
  3. Determine how you will deal with matches on the background check.

What Type of Checks Should You Run on Church Volunteers?

At a minimum, you should run a national sex offender search and multistate criminal database search for your church. On a higher level, you should also run county level criminal felony and misdemeanor searches.

For church employees and those who deal with money, an employment credit report should also be ordered. Additionally, church employees should have every county of residence searched in the last 5 years.



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How Long Does an Employment Background Check Take

With more than 90 percent of employers running background checks on potential candidates, it’s important that you know what they’re looking for before you begin your job hunt. The same applies to banks where you’re seeking a loan and landlords when you’re trying to secure a new place to live. Background checks can make or break your eligibility for all of life’s necessities.

So what do you need to know about the length of your average review? Consider this your guide to understanding background checks.

Types of Background Check

The length of a background check will depend entirely on what kind of check is being run. There are several types:

Criminal Checks

These checks look for arrests, lawsuits, incarceration records and people on the sex offender registry. They typically take anywhere from 3-10 days depending on the agency doing the reporting and the amount of transgressions on record.

Citizenship Checks

More and more employers are requiring citizenship or visa checks to keep themselves from running afoul of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). These checks are usually nothing more than a phone call or a Social Security number run through the federal E-Verify program, so they don’t take long at all.

Credit Checks

Checking an applicant’s credit can be a time-consuming process. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), employers have to get your permission for the review before any digging is done, and even after that you’re looking at a wait of 7-10 days for official processing.

Driving Checks

If you’re applying somewhere as a driver, your employer will need to check your driving record for tickets, accidents and DUIs/DWIs. Don’t expect this to happen any sooner than 48 hours, especially if the employer is having it bundled into an all-purpose background check that can take up to a week to deliver.

Employment Checks

Did you really work at that company? Hiring managers are allowed to check references, employment dates and even performance reviews. Unfortunately, there’s just no way to know how long it will your new employer to speak with your old one.

Education Checks

If you’re applying for an academic or highly technical position, your employer may want verification of your degree. These don’t take long for the schools to fax over, but keep in mind that their offices aren’t open on weekends, and not every request is processed right away.

Tenant Checks

Tenant screening takes place by landlords and homeowners who want to ensure that they’re renting to the right people. These checks look for things like income verification and good rental histories, and they usually take less than 72 hours.

Licensing Checks

Your employer may want to verify that you have the legal certification required for your job. These checks will look at issuance dates, location details and any disciplinary actions taken against you, and they typically take 3-10 days.

Types of Background Checker

In addition to choosing what kind of review to run, employers are often allowed to pick between several different methods of obtaining a background check.

Third-Party Agencies

Third-party agencies are usually the fastest with background checks. They use the Internet to comb through public records, so they typically have results within a matter of days; some agencies even run “instant” background checks that can be done in a matter of hours.

State Agencies

When employers want an official background check, they turn to the state. These reviews are ordered from places like the State Bureau of Identification (SBI) or the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS), and they typically take 7-10 business days to be mailed out.

Federal Agencies

Occasionally a bank or employer will require a background check from the FBI for the purpose of national security. These reviews take the longest; you won’t see results for 30 days or more.

Speeding Up Your Background Check

If you’re in a hurry for that new job, here are just a few ways to grease the wheels of the system:

– Fill out your forms properly. For example, don’t give your nickname or a shortened version of your name on official job applications. “Joe” isn’t in the state’s records; “Joseph” is.

– Offer as many identifiers as you can. Don’t be shy about giving out your birthday, address history or educational level. According to Security Magazine, this will keep you from being confused with other people of the same name.

– Be honest. This may sound obvious, but there’s no use in lying on a form when you’re going to be scrutinized in a background check anyway. Not only will you lose the job, but it can also slow things down when city officials confuse your records with another persons.

These are just a few things to keep in mind when wondering about the length of a background check. As you can see, it depends on a variety of factors, so be as patient as you can. Anxiety won’t make the results deliver themselves any faster.

MVR Driving Record

In today’s difficult environment, it is important for a company to make a firm commitment to risk management. Employee screening is one essential ingredient in an overall risk management program. By thoroughly screening a prospective hire, a company can ensure that they obtain honest, reliable employees.

A company with employee drivers should take every reasonable measure to make sure that these people are safe drivers to protect their business and reduce risks. Among these steps is the use of Motor Vehicle Records Checks to determine if an applicant has a good driving history. Employee driving records have become an important Fleet Safety Program component and can help protect a company against litigation after an accident.

The Basics

An MVR or Motor Vehicle Check shows a person’s driving history including valuable information about their driver’s license such as special endorsements, license class, current and past license statuses including cancellations, revocations and suspensions and any restrictions on their license.

Aside from that, it will also show valuable information about a person’s traffic violations including but not limited to vehicular crimes, accident reports, traffic citations, DUI convictions and driving record points. MVR checks might also show personal information such as an individual’s gender, date of birth, age, weight, height and hair and eye color.

They can also uncover unanswered or unpaid summons and insurance lapses. Usually, MVR checks only show information for a specific number of years. However, the time frame differs by the state. Additionally, employers should obtain a release from the applicant before an MVR check can be run.

The Statistics Do Not Lie

The importance of an MVR check cannot be denied. Companies should determine if their employee is a safe driver not only to protect their equipment but also their customers, clients and others that their workers may have contact with. This is because motor-vehicle crashes cost companies $60 billion annually in legal expenses, lost productivity, medical care and property damage. The average motor vehicle crash costs an employer approximately $16,500.

When an employee is involved in an on-the-job crash that results in an injury, the cost to their employer is $74,000. What is worse is that it can exceed $500,000 when a fatality is involved. That figure can soar to millions of dollars per incident if punitive damages are awarded. They are also liable for a negligent lawsuit. Such lawsuits also have the potential to destroy the reputation of a company.

The Benefits

It can be hard for a company to predict how an employee will handle their job in a real work setting. If their work requires driving, auto insurance can be involved as well that can significantly affect the operations of their business. Nobody is perfect at driving, but some people are definitely worse than others.

In many cases, driving history repeats itself. Running an MVR check helps a company predict any negative activity that has a higher probability of happening in the near future. At the very least, they can talk to the prospective employee about their driving history after knowing their record and resolving any issues and worries.

However, this does not just equate to peace of mind for business owners. Their insurance company worries about their employees as well. That worry usually translates to money. This is because insurance companies have access to MVR checks, and their premiums may be based on people’s driving history.

Companies may be penalized with higher premiums if their organization reflects poorly in this domain. Insurance is frequently a hazard to operational costs. Fortunately, knowing their employee’s MVR helps companies protect themselves.

Another Hidden Benefit

In addition to companies benefiting from having MVR checks done, prospective job applicants do as well. It prevents them from having unnecessary errors that blemish their identity. Even if their job does not necessarily involve driving, an employer may still want an idea of what is on their driving record.

Having errors on their record can hurt a person’s chances of getting a job. Even if there are no errors, every violation or ticket they have might not show up on record. Knowing what isn’t and what is on their record can help an person prepare for questioning by a prospective employer.

Releasing Time

MVR checks are usually returned within one to three business days from the order date. However, each U.S. state has its own regulations and rules as to how records are released and kept. This affects the turnaround time.

Other reasons for an MVR check to be delayed include name variations and missing or incorrect license numbers. Because motor vehicle licenses are issued by individual states, and each one of them maintains its own database driving records, MVR checks are done per state as there is no national driving record database. Companies should contact the individual Department of Motor Vehicles or comparable department in each state.

A Weakness

Each state has its own regulations and rules as to how Motor Vehicle Records checks are done. Additional forms may be necessary to perform them. What is worse is that some states do not permit a prospective employer to gain access to Motor Vehicle Reports. Because of this, some companies choose to order an MVR check from a reputable third-party company. These companies provide a much faster service. In addition, they perform these checks at a much lower price or sometimes for free.

35 Heinous Craigslist Crimes

Photo courtesy of espensorvik on Flickr

Photo courtesy of espensorvik on Flickr

The information age comes with countless advantages, streamlining communication and allowing people to connect instantaneously.  In the past, several contacts and coordination were often required to get people on the same page, but today mobile phones and computer technology link us at all times. In business, deals can be conducted in real-time and global economics benefit from our ability to stay connected in so many different ways.  But the access created by so many forms of communication also crosses privacy boundaries, and sometimes compromises our ability to insulate ourselves from undesirable elements. Social networking, for example, puts people at risk when managed improperly. That’s why when you try and hire someone, you should use  And local advertising sites like Craigslist literally open the door for strangers to come into our lives.  Safe practices aside, Craigslist crimes are real threats – just ask the unsuspecting victims.

1. The Mentor Murders

Most teens look up to respected elders, admiring them for their accomplishments and abilities, but this twisted plot brought a grown man and his protégé together for all the wrong reasons.  Brogan Rafferty was impressionable enough to participate in a crime spree hatched on Craigslist,  participating willingly in the affair.  Along with his mentor, Richard Beasley, Rafferty placed ads on Craigslist seeking laborers to work on a fictitious Ohio ranch.  Instead of employment, respondents were murdered and robbed.  The duo successful snuffed-out three job-seekers, attempting to kill a fourth man who escaped.  The men were arrested after he went to the police with the outrageous story.  Despite claiming he was coerced, Brogan Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison, the maximum penalty for his crime.  He was a minor at the time of the killings, so the death penalty was not on the table.  Richard Beasley, the demented mentor, was not as lucky.  He was sentenced to death in April, 2013 for the Craigslist murders.

2. Forced Prostitution

College students are always looking for some extra cash, but Tamla Hutchins would not willingly prostitute herself to get it.  Instead, she was lured into forced Craigslist prostitution by a nefarious would-be pimping duo named Carlton Simons and Shenett Reevey.  According to the casework, the pair promised the student an opportunity to meet famous stars like P-Diddy and the rapper Lil John.  Instead, she was forced to prostitute herself using Craigslist ads.  The 2007 crime brought the victim from her home in North Carolina to Queens New York where the plot unfolded.  For his role, Carlton Simmons was sentenced to six years in prison.

3. Donna Jou Disappearance

Some Craigslist crimes go unsolved, partly because of the nature of the site.  Often, one-on-one meetings are arranged on Craigslist, which is never a good idea.  In the case of Ms. Jou, a man has already confessed to involuntary manslaughter and served a portion of the 5-year term he received for the crime.  According to John Steven Burgess, Donna Jou responded to his Craigslist ad and joined him for cocaine and heroin before dying at his home.  When he woke to find her dead, he panicked and threw her body into the ocean.  The truth of the account is suspect, and Burgess has already been released after serving a few years in prison.  In fact, Burgess has since been arrested after again using Craigslist to lure women to his home.

4. Katherine Ann Olson Murder

Responding to a Craigslist ad for a babysitter put Katherine Olson in touch with Amy, a mother needing childcare from 10:30 – 5:00.  The details were set before Ms. Olson reported to work at a split-level home in Savage.  Once there, she was coaxed into an upper area of the home and murdered in cold blood.  Michael Anderson, her killer, was a 19 year old man with poor social skills.  He killed Ms. Olson with a .357 caliber handgun, before dragging her body down the stairs and tying her up. The motive for the killing is largely unknown, though Anderson received the mandatory life without parole sentence.

5. Philip Markoff Craigslist Killer

The highly publicized saga of the Craigslist Killer involved charges stemming from the death of Julissa Brisman, as well as two additional assaults carried out on women responding to Craigslist ads.  The case drew scrutiny for the unlikely perpetrator, who was a pre-med student and seemingly normal chap.  As it turns out, Mr. Markoff had a dark side, displaying sexual deviance and other hidden irregularities.  But perversion is not thought to be the primary motives for the assaults.  Rather, Mr. Markoff appears to have been in dire straights financially, afraid to reveal the situation to his fiancé.  Markoff took his own life in 2010, while serving a life sentence in prison.

6. Raped Maid

Michael Delgado called a maid he found on Craigslist to clean his home, but evidence pointed to a different motive for bringing her in.  According to the 42-year old maid that came to his home, Delgado was little more than an opportunistic Craigslist rapist.  Once there, she claims to have been raped for over an hour, leading to false imprisonment, assault and rape charges against Delgado.  Tried at the end of 2012, Mr. Delgado’s jury ended in deadlock, failing to convict or acquit him on the six felony charges he faced.  He will be retried on at least some of the charges.

7. Baby For Sale

Paul Marquez probably looked over the ‘for sale’ section for quite awhile before trying to sell a baby on Craigslist.  The internet swap meet does not maintain a section for human trafficking.  Mr. Marquez posted the ad out of irritation with his newfound girlfriend who mothered the child.  According to the complaint, he asked $100 for the infant because it was “on his nerves”.  The Craigslist ad was flagged and removed, but the perseverant Marquez reposted the offer.  A responder was given the actual mother’s phone number, who then called police to report Marquez.  several charges were levied, including child endangerment.

Photo by izzymunchted on Flickr

Photo by izzymunchted on Flickr

8. Wine Snob Beating

Seeking the finer things in life is to be admired, but pursuing high-end wine from a discount Craigslist posting carried unanticipated risks for one wine aficionado.  When Quy Duc Nguyen showed up to purchase a handful of rare bottles, he got more than he bargained for.  Traveling all the way from coast to coast, his arrival was tainted by a beating and robbery that left him with sour grapes.

9. Phone Home Shooting

Jonathan Clements used Craigslist to advertise his need for a new mobile phone.  When he set up a meeting with Alexander Lyons, he expected a routine $95 transaction the men agreed upon.  Following safe protocols, the meeting was arranged for a public gas station where safety would not be an issue for the men.  Lyons pretended to be lost though, and instead was directed to Mr. Clements location, his Aunt’s house.  Mr. Lyons was prepared for violence, and soon shot the unsuspecting buyer with a semi-automatic handgun.  Mr. Clements died at the hospital a short time later.  A life sentence was handed-down to Lyons, and the accomplice who furnished the weapon was also charged with murder.

10. Dao Xiong Auto Ad Killer

Craigslist is widely used for selling cars and motorcycles, so meet-ups are scheduled frequently.  St Paul native Youa Ty Lor used the listing service to advertise his Nissan for sale.  Unfortunately, a car thief was trolling the wires looking for victims.  Mr. Lor agreed to meet Dao Xiong for a test drive, but Xiong reportedly never intended to buy the vehicle.  He claims to have been interested only in stealing it, but his plans went awry when Mr. Lor was killed with a forty caliber semi-auto handgun.  The murder weapon and telephone records  quickly tied Xiong to the crime, leading to his arrest and conviction for the killing.  He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

11.  John Katehis S&M Killer

When George Weber placed an ad on Craigslist, he was seeking a partner for a sex-related meet-up.  The respondent, who later agreed to a sexual encounter for $60, was a twisted Satanist and S&M fetishist.  He had a particular preoccupation with knives, which he eventually used to stab Mr. Weber to death.  More than 50 stab wounds were present on his body and neck, inflicted by the sixteen year-old killer.  Katehis was charged with second-degree murder, as an adult.

12.  Long Island Killer

Answering ads for sex is the standard approach for this Craigslist criminal, known as the Long Island Serial Killer. The unidentified perpetrator is though to be responsible for as many as 15 murders in the GilGo Beach area.  Over the course of several years, 10 bodies have been recovered from the area, each linked to the killer.  While theories abound, it is certain the killer preys on prostitutes and women advertising sex on Craigslist.

13.  Boat Buyer Assault

Ronald Kroll used Craigslist for its intended function, placing an ad to sell his boat.  After communicating with an interested buyer, Darin Leutbecker, by phone, a test-drive was arranged and the men met at the boat.  The 37 year-old Kroll fought back after Leutbecker pulled a gun on him, resulting in shots fired.  The men struggled in the boat, before falling into the water, where Kroll eventually remained as his boat was stolen.  Kroll was able to inflict some damage of his own, stabbing his attacker with a pocket knife before he fled.

14. Diamond Deal Killers

James Sanders had a diamond ring to sell, so he placed an ad on Craigslist.  When four individuals responded for a meeting, Sanders directed them to his home.  The Edgewood, WA man was told the ring was to be a Mother’s Day gift, but once inside his home, the group held Sanders and his family captive.  As he struggled to protect his children, he was shot dead by the attackers.  All four criminals were captured and tried, including 24 year-old Clabon Berniard who received a life sentence.

15.  Auto Sale Kidnapping

Selling his BMW was all Alexander Filatov had in mind when he placed an ad on Craigslist.  Travis Landry, who responded to the posting had different ideas for Filatov, including a 400+ mile trip in his own trunk.  After meeting at Landry’s location, Filatov agreed to a test drive, and the men conducted what appeared to be a legitimate transaction.  After accepting payment, Filatov opened the trunk for Landry, who asked to see it.  With threats of violence, Landry forced him into the trunk of the BMW, before taking-off on a 450 mile drive.  Filatov was not harmed, and his help led police to Landry who was later captured and tried.

16.  Work Shirt Robbery

Craigslist does not discriminate among criminals, so it is not surprising that the site aids robberies too.  A particularly clever criminal posted an ad for day laborers, instructing them exactly how to dress for the job.  Ten men reported to the designated location, dressed as instructed.  As they waited for their job assignments, another man emerged in the same outfit.  He sprayed an armored guard with an irritant and ran off with a bag of money.  The men served as distractions, as the perpetrator jumped into the nearby river.  Despite the creative approach, Anthony Curcio was arrested and tried for the robbery.

17.  Ellis T. Jones Craigslist Crimes

Ellis Jones played football at San Jose State, where his coach said he was not a disciplinary concern.  A different story unfolded as Jones was linked to a robbery plot involving Craigslist.  The man used classified ads to lure multiple victims to his location, before Tasing them or threatening them with a gun.  The motive was robbery, which did not end well for Jones who was eventually removed from the football team and brought-up on 13 charges of Craigslist wrongdoing.

18.  Killer: Alejandro Hernandez Rivera

Prostitution advertising is not limited to women on Craigslist.  Alejandro Rivera was a male prostitute advertising regularly online, when he met sixty-six year-old Theodore Neff in 2008.  The retired bank employee was a collector of rare flutes, which Rivera targeted to steal.  in the end, Rivera strangled Neff to death, before setting his house on fire and taking off with his expensive instruments.  Attempting to sell the flutes back to their maker, rivera exposed himself and was arrested for the murder.

19.  Baby Killer

After posting an ad on Craigslist for baby clothes, Korena Roberts met Heather Snively.  the two became fast friends, sharing what was thought to be mutual pregnancies.  The grisly case took a terrible turn when Roberts, who was not pregnant at all, carried out her unseemly plot.  the woman killed her friend, beating her to beat with a police baton, before removing the unborn baby from her womb.  Both victims died, for which Roberts received a sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole.  During the investigation, it was revealed that Roberts had attempted the scheme previously without success.

20.  Weyrick Murder

Sarah Weyrick was in dire straits financially, so she placed an ad on Craigslist to make some money.  her ad was found in the casual encounters section by a 31 year-old man with grisly intentions.  Some time after meeting with Phillip E. Bolden, Weyrick’s body was discovered in a burned-out vehicle.  She had been stabbed to death, with multiple knife wounds to her neck.  The car she was placed in was set ablaze to conceal the evidence, but the killer was eventually caught.

21.  Len Dykstra Craigslist Sex Crimes

Former professional baseball player Len Dykstra has previously been convicted of grand theft auto, resulting from a scam wherein he bought cars with fake paperwork.  The sports star turned criminal has had other run-ins with the law too, including a Craigslist crime spree involving sexual misconduct.  Dykstra admitted to his crimes, which are essentially the same in each instance.  He would call-in Craigslist advertisers for help around his home, only to inform them that the “help” included massaging him.  Several women came forward, including one claiming he held her at knifepoint, forcing her to rub him. Dyksta served his sentence for the Craigslist crimes concurrently with his auto theft stint, released in the summer of 2013.

22.  iPhone Robbery

When a buyer responded to a Craigslist ad offering a box of iPhones for sale, he got more than he bargained for.  According to the complaint, the Seattle man was instructed to meet the seller at a business location where he said he worked.  Once there, the buyer got into a car driven by the seller’s associate to complete the deal.  Given a box said to contain the phones, he set about getting the 10K in cash out of his trunk.  Instead of closing the sale, the seller pulled a gun and demanded the money.  The box the man was given contained only scraps of metal and trash.

23. Sister Act

Two Raleigh, North Carolina sisters hatched a robbery plot using Craigslist as their trap.  The offer was straightforward – two smartphones for $1100, according to the ad the girls placed.  When a Raleigh man showed up to close the deal, things got a little out of hand.  Instead of the smartphones, Sherida Quanette Bullock and Acqua Bullock produced a handgun, demanding the cash from the would-be buyer, Ibrahima Diouf.  When the man fled instead of giving up the money, the sisters unleashed a hail of bullets in his direction.  The Bullocks were each charged with robbery, as was a third woman, Sherie Brooks, who was eventually tied to the crime.

24.  Minister Goes Above and Beyond

Hiring a minister to conduct your wedding ceremony shouldn’t put you at risk, but apparently when Craigslist is used to find a pastor, anything can happen.  After officiating at their wedding, one Portland minister made-off with the couples’ wedding gifts.  Since the pair were remodeling, a majority of their gifts came as Home Depot gift cards.  The pastor was easy to locate by tracing the numbers on the cards, which led police to security videos showing the man redeeming them.

25.  Girlfriend Revenge

Breaking up is hard to do, but getting even was all that mattered for one Craigslist poster who used the site to seek revenge on his ex.  The depraved plan was to post an ad on Craigslist seeking a rape encounter, directing respondents to his ex-girlfriend’s home.  Unbelievably, he posted the ad and within a week a man broke-in to the girls home and raped her.  The former boyfriend, Jebidiah Stipe, communicated with the rapist even after the ad had been taken down, providing the woman’s home address and additional details about her “fantasy”.  Stipe was arrested, as well as the attacker Ty McDowell.

26.  Stripper Strike

Hiring strippers for bachelor parties is a tradition to some, but for two would-be strippers it was a one-sided affair.  A Huntington Beach man, doing his diligence as the best man, hired two women from a Craigslist ad to strip at a party for the groom.  Instead, the ladies collected their $500 fee and then bolted without stripping at all.  When the men tried to stop them, they were pepper sprayed and punched in the face.  The women escaped with the cash.

27.  House for Sale

The deal of the century presented itself to two Oregon women who had a chance to buy a luxury home for pennies on the dollar.  The deal they found on Craigslist appeared too good to be true, but the pair, Elizabeth Dorscht and Chandler Cook forked over the down payment anyway.  Not surprisingly, the house turned out not to be for sale, and the Craigslist poster disappeared with their money.  Lynne Sisto eventually pled guilty to orchestrating the creative scheme.

28.  Transgender Assault

Edward Terry Wallace responded to a Craigslist ad placed by three transgender ladies who identified themselves as such in the post.  The Chula Vista man reported to the trio’s home and proceeded to rape and beat them.  He used a stun gun to control them and robbed each of their cash, before sodomizing at least one of them.  For his crimes, Mr. Wallace received a 12 year sentence for sexual battery and robbery of the three.

29.  Sex Trafficking Trio

Selling sex is illegal in most places, but prostituting kids is in a whole different class of bad judgment.  Nonetheless, three enterprising Craigslist users managed to launch a child prostitution ring on the site.  Surprisingly, one of the perpetrators was a woman named Jessica King.  Along with her co-conspirators, Jordan Arnold and Christopher Black, King posted pictures of girls in lingerie on Craigslist.  The photos lured johns who hired the young girls for sex.  All three pled guilty to coercion and enticement of a juvenile into prostitution.  Sentences for each defendant were around five years apiece.

30.  Rape My Wife, Please

The bonds of holy matrimony didn’t stop an Idaho man from posting ads on Craigslist seeking men to rape his wife.  The twisted approach included communicating with the men who responded, eventually steering more than one of them to her home.  When one man tried to assault her, the wife grabbed her gun, discharging the weapon.  Police responding to the gunfire were brought up to speed about the depraved plot.  The husband admitted to his crime and faced the music in a courtroom.

31.  No Sex, No Money

A Texas man has been acquitted of killing a woman he met on Craigslist.  the man responded to an ad for sex, arranging to pay the woman $150 for the act.  He lived up to his part of the bargain, but she took the money without performing her end of the deal.  As the two argued over the cash, the woman, Lenora Fargo was shot to death.  In  a bizarre legal twist, the act was ruled self-defense because the shooter, Ezekiel Gilbert, was trying to recover stolen property at the time the shots were fired.

32.  Steven Lewis Kills iPhone Buyer

Lots of Craigslist crimes involve electronics deals gone bad, including the tragic shooting of Mr. Aung Thu Bo.  Responding to an ad for an iPhone for sale, Bo and his girlfriend met innocently with Steven Lewis.  But Lewis is a convicted felon who ended up taking the unsuspecting Bo’s life.  Despite trying to cooperate with the thief, Aung Thu Bo was shot dead in cold blood.  Lewis eventually confessed to the crime, claiming the gun went off accidentally.

Photo by jason lander group on Flickr

Photo by jason lander group on Flickr

33. Marine Shot Over Necklace

Lt. Col Karl Trenker stood-in for his fiancée who had posted a Craigslist ad to sell a gold necklace.  Trenker went to meet a potential buyer in her place, but ran into some trouble.  Despite meeting in an open area, the two men posing as buyers decided to steal the necklace and take-off.  As he pursued them on foot, Trenker was shot multiple times by one of the men.  Jeff Steele fired on Trenker as he chased him, striking him at least three times.  Using his military training, the 48 year old Marine plugged the wounds with his fingers, possibly saving his own life.

34.  Tiara Pool Murder

Tiara Pool’s killer responded to her Craigslist ad, prompting a meeting between the two.  They left the public meeting place to return to Pool’s apartment, where she was brutally murdered.  Her killer, David Sparre was 19 years old at the time of the crime, stabbing Poll more than 80 times.  The deranged Sparre was sentenced to death for the crime.  In a twisted jailhouse letter, Sparre told his ex-girlfriend that he would like to kill again.

35.  Daniel Cook ATV Killing

Daniel Cook and his girlfriend were interested in looking at an all-terrain vehicle offered for sale on Craigslist, so they traveled to Philadelphia to meet with the seller.  After separating Cook from his girlfriend and another traveling companion, Thomas Coffee robbed and killed him.  According to the girl, they were waiting for Cook to rejoin them when two gunshots rang-out.  The 23 year-old Willow Grove man was eventually arrested and charged with murder for posing as a Craigslist seller and taking Cook’s life.



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