CALDWELL, Ohio - A sheriff says a jobseeker from Florida has been found dead and another from South Carolina has been shot after they responded to a Craigslist ad for a job on an Ohio cattle farm.
Noble County Sheriff Stephen Hannum said Thursday two men were taken into custody after cadaver dogs found the body of the Florida man this week in a shallow grave in a remote area.
He says the search was undertaken after the South Carolina man escaped from the area Nov. 6 and notified police, who then found a grave they believe had been dug for him.
He says the two men had responded to a bogus listing for a job as cattle caretaker at a 688-acre farm. He suspects robbery was the motive. The men's names haven't been released.
Local law enforcement agencies in Northeast Ohio have been involved in the incident, including the Geauga County Sheriff's office and the Cleveland office of the FBI, according to Hannum.
Hannum sent a press release out just after 6 p.m. Thursday:
"This will be a brief statement to inform the residents of Noble County and others about an ongoing investigation. This investigation involves the shooting of a South Carolina man that answered an ad posted on Craig's List and probably the murder of another man."
"Before continuing I want to stop long enough to give my sincerest thank you to the following agencies that have thus far contributed to this investigation. Federal Bureau of Investigation, both Cincinnati and Cleveland Divisions - Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation - Marietta P.D. - Bethesda P.D. - Homeland Security - United States Marshall Service - Akron P.D. - Muskingum Co. Sheriff's Office - United States Attorney General's Office - Ohio Attorney General's Office - Tuscarawas Co. Sheriff's Office - United K-9 of Carroll County - Ohio Search and Recovery Canines, Inc - Geauga Co. Sheriff's Office - businesses and local residents that contributed by supplying information and property access."
The following is a timeline of events: November 6th around 7:30 p.m. my office received a call from a resident on Rado Ridge Rd. in Enoch Twp. A deputy sheriff and United Ambulance were dispatched and I was notified. I arrived on scene just outside the community of Fulda and found a white middle aged man being treated for a gunshot wound to the right arm."
"I interviewed the man who I'll call victim number 1 just for clarification, and I discovered he had been lured to Noble County after answering an advertisement on Craig's list. The advertisement was a job offer for a man to care for cattle on a 688 acre property."
"Victim number one met 2 people in Marietta and had breakfast together. Victim number one drove his own vehicle to Caldwell where he parked his vehicle and got in with the 2 suspects. The three men rode together to Don Warner Rd in Stock Twp. The victim was told the road was closed due to a landslide. The victim and one of the men exited the vehicle and began walking through the heavily wooded area."
"Victim number one heard what he thought was a gun being cocked. He turned to see a gun pointed at his head. He deflected the gun and ran. As he was running from the gunman, he was shot in the arm. The gunman continued to shoot as the victim ran. The victim successfully hid in the woods for the next 7 hours before making his way to a house to call for help. I reported this incident to the local media the following day."
"On Friday evening Nov. 11th my office received information from a woman in Boston Mass. Her twin brother was missing. The report is her brother had answered an advertisement from Craig's List and she felt very sure it was the same advertisement victim number one had answered. The information is her brother was last seen Oct 22. in Parkersburg West Va."
"The woman advised us she has filed a missing persons report with that agency. In light of this new information law enforcement returned to the crime scene on Don Warner road and discovered what appears to be a hand dug shallow grave. The grave is empty however it did give credibility to the theory that if the gunman had planned to kill and bury victim number 1, then is it possible there is a victim number 2."
"On Monday Nov. 14th members of my staff, FBI and BCI special agents, along with cadaver sniffing dogs returned to the crime scene on Don Warner Rd. We were successful in locating pieces of what we believe are evidence pertaining to the shooting of victim number one. On Tuesday Nov. 15th once again members of my staff, FBI, BCI and other cadaver sniffing dogs returned to the crime scene on Don Warner Rd. This time around 3:30 pm we discovered the body of a white male buried in a shallow grave."
"The gravesite is in close proximately to the location where victim number one was shot. The body has been transported to the Licking County Coroner's Office where an autopsy is being performed today. At present time the body has not been positively identified. At this time I will not be releasing the name of victim number one or the name of who we believe to be victim number two."
"We presently have two suspects in custody. Neither of the two suspects are residents of Noble County. We believe the attempted murder of victim number one and the likely murder of victim number 2 are connect and possibly committed by the same person."
"I don't want to release the names of the suspects. I will say this matter is still under investigation and other arrests are possible. The gambit of charges connected to this case could range from kidnapping and theft to murder and attempted murder. The crime scene is approximately 10 miles from my office. Victim number one walked approximately 2 miles before feeling safe enough to ask for help. Also, Don Warner Rd. is presently closed."