A Clark Atlanta University student is the latest victim of deadly scams involving the same website: Craigslist. And the death is one more reminder of the potential dangers with the online site, according to police.
James Jones Jr., 21, was attempting to buy an iPhone 6 off the site late Monday when he agreed to meet the alleged seller in a Marietta neighborhood. Instead, he was confronted by three men who shot him twice, robbed him of his Nike tennis shoes, and left him to die in the front seat of his car, police said.
In less than 24 hours, investigators had identified and arrested three suspects in Jones’ killing, Officer David Baldwin with Marietta police said. Though it’s not known how police tracked down the three so fast, address records showed that two suspects lived within feet of the Jamaica Cove address where Jones was found.
Jones had been shot in the right shoulder and right side of this neck with a .45-caliber handgun, according to arrest warrants. The college chemistry major was dead when officers arrived.
Terayle Hill, one of Jones’ classmates at CAU, said Jones was ambitious and a sharp dresser, sporting suits and ties for his classes. Jones, a native of Daytona Beach, Fla., previously played football at CAU and was currently serving as a mentor in local elementary and middle schools, the university said in an email to students.
Tuesday afternoon, police arrested Jordan James Baker, 18; Jonathon O’Neil Myles, 19; and Kaylnn Shiquez Ruthenberg, 21, at Ruthenberg’s Franklin Road apartment. All three were charged with felony murder, armed robbery and aggravated assault and were booked into the Cobb County jail. They were denied bond at their first court appearances Wednesday morning.
Investigators believe Ruthenberg was the gunman, and Myles and Baker were his accomplices as shots were fired, warrants stated. Because he had to be in court Wednesday morning, Ruthenberg had to skip another court appearance. He was supposed to be arraigned on felony theft charges stemming from an October arrest, according to Superior Court records.
In August, Ruthenberg allegedly stole a $1,600 Tag Heuer watch and pawned it for $50, a previous arrest warrant stated. Myles also has an arrest history, records showed. In July, he was charged with four felony counts of entering autos, his arrest warrant from that case stated. As of Wednesday afternoon, that case had not been indicted, a court clerk said.
On Wednesday, Thomas Tuffa told Channel 2 Action News he had also encountered the same three suspects before Jones arrived. Tuffa was also attempting to buy a phone, he said. But when the alleged seller demanded to see his cash, Tuffa instead got back in his car and left.
Jones’ death came just two weeks after a Cobb County couple was found shot to death in Telfair County, where they had driven to possibly purchase a vintage Ford Mustang.
Bud Runion had placed an ad on Craigslist to find his dream car, and on a Thursday morning in January, he and his wife, June, drove to Telfair County. But there was no car, and the Runions’ bodies were found four days later. Ronnie Adrian “Jay” Towns was arrested and charged with the couple’s killings.
In September, Daniel John Zeitz, 28, of Roswell, was killed while attempting to sell a PlayStation 4, according to Sandy Springs police. Nathaniel Vivian, 20, and his 16-year-old girlfriend have been charged with murder in the botched robbery that led to Zeitz’s death.
After the Runions were killed, metro Atlanta police agencies publicly asked those involved with online selling and buying to be cautious when meeting strangers, urging people to meet in public places, such as police stations. Metro departments used Facebook to post additional reminders following Jones’s death.
Hill, a CAU junior, said he’s now more hesitant to buy anything online unless he knows for sure who is selling it.
“It’s a lot of evil in this world,” Hill said.
CAU will host a memorial service for Jones on Thursday at noon in Davage Auditorium in Haven-Warren Hall.