As the made-for-TV premier of The Craigslist Killer gears for its premiere, most of the controversy surrounding the online site has dissipated following the site’s publicized removal of the “adult services” section.
The section, which was under public and law-enforcement scrutiny for allowing ads that allegedly promoted prostitution, ceased in allowing adult services ads in the “Casual Encounters” section in the US in August, and Internationally in December.
The section became infamous after Philip Markhoff, a Syracuse, NY native attending medical school in Boston, MA, was arrested for robbing two paid escorts and murder/robbery of a third, Julissa Brisman. According to Wikipedia, all three victims used craigslist to advertise their “services.”
In Jersey City, missing escort Shannon Gilbert reportedly used craigslist to advertise sexual services (NJ.com) when she disappeared somewhere between her home and Fire Island earlier this year in May. A searched launched to find Gilbert led detectives to the discovery of four decomposed women–allegedly all prostitutes–on Long Island beaches.
The last person who saw Gilbert was her driver, who said that she seemed to be delirious and refusing to leave her client’s home in a gated resort-area. She never gave the driver the client’s address, name, or phone number. Following the discovery of the four bodies (none of which was Gilbert) area police discovered the identity of Gilbert’s client and interrogated him about her whereabouts. Thus far, they do not believe he is involved, and believe that they may be on the trail of a serial killer on Long Island.
The Long Island case resembles an unsolved criminal investigation in the Atlantic City-area; in 2006 police discovered four decomposing bodies in a drainage ditch in Egg Harbor Township, and all four victims were linked to prostitution. Like the Long Island murders, the victims were killed elsewhere and dumped near a beach.
While the Craigslist adult services section’s been removed, the site still operates its “Casual Encounters” section where people can seek out sexual partners. Craigslist has posted warnings on the Casual Encounters section, and requests that users flag illegal posts that contain adult content. The section also warns users to be aware of scam posts, and spam, but does not state anywhere that prostitution ads are in violation of the site’s policies.