Police in Missouri have arrested and charged 24-year-old Michael Gordon with the murder of 19-year old college student Taylor Clark, another apparent slaying connected to a Craigslist transaction.
Clark, a student at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, a St. Louis suburb, was attempting to sell his a sports car on Craigslist and had arranged to meet Gordon to test-drive the red 2007 Nissan 350ZX, police said.
They agreed to meet around lunchtime Monday in the parking lot of the MTC Truck Driver Training school in Hazelwood, Mo., where Gordon worked.
That night, Clark’s family reported him missing. The following day, police found the vehicle still parked at the training school and shortly after found Clark’s body hidden in the nearby woods. He had been shot one time.
Gordon, police said, returned to work after attempting to hide the body.
At a news conference Wednesday, police said they arrested Gordon on Tuesday after they found his name in Clark’s e-mails about the Craigslist offering.
Florissant Police Department Capt. Tim Fagan, who is also deputy commander of the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis, declined to discuss a motive in the case. But he echoed law enforcement officials across the country who have been urging people to exercise caution when conducting Craigslist transactions.
“People should always be concerned about anything that they do, especially if it’s online,” Fagan said, according to KSDK. “You never know who it is that you’re contacting, and so precautions are always advisable.”
Of Clark, Fagan said: “We know he was, by all accounts, a very good young man, quality person. Was a college student, and unfortunately fell victim to a tragic event.”
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Gordon was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action. Police are still looking for Gordon’s vehicle, a red 1990 BMW 325i with Missouri license plate FL3Z9K.
Gordon made his first court appearance Thursday and did not enter a plea, according to the Associated Press. He is being held on a $1 million bond, the AP reported, and will return to court on May 18.
Recently, several violent incidents have been connected to Craigslist meetings.
In January, a man was charged with killing an elderly Georgia couple who were attempting to purchase a dream car on Craigslist.
In March, a pregnant woman was stabbed and her baby taken from her womb by a woman who arranged a meeting on Craigslist to buy baby clothes. The woman survived, but the baby died following the horrific encounter.
Police say that cash transactions on Craigslist can be magnets for criminal activity. In an effort to deter those crimes,
Craigslist’s “personal safety” page says that among the billions of “human interactions facilitated” by the site, the incidence of violent crime is “extremely low.”
However, in addition to telling users to carry a cellphone with them during transactions, Craigslist also warns buyers and sellers: “Do not meet in a secluded place,” “be especially careful when buying/selling high value items” and “consider having a friend accompany you.”
Peter Holley contributed to this post, which has been updated.