Is It a Good Idea to Hire a Hit Man on Craigslist? No, It Is Not.

A blog about murder, theft, and other wickedness.
July 12 2013 11:00 AM

Is It a Good Idea to Hire a Hit Man on Craigslist? No, It Is Not.

Illustration by Robert Neubecker.

Illustration by Robert Neubecker

Crime is Slate’s crime blog. Like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @slatecrime.

Name: Megan Schmidt

Advertisement

Alleged crime: Solicitation to commit murder and attempted murder

Fatal mistake: Choosing the world’s worst method of hiring a hit man

The circumstances: Megan Schmidt and her father didn’t get along. Schmidt claims that he assaulted her. There were likely other problems, too. Earlier this year, the 23-year-old Schmidt decided to resolve those tensions. Unfortunately, the Iowa woman allegedly did so in the dumbest way possible: by attempting to hire a hit man via a Craigslist “help wanted” ad.

Now, the ad itself said nothing about murder-for-hire. According to the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, the ad merely promised $10,000 for an undisclosed job. But when you called the number listed on the advertisement, authorities say, Schmidt was very forthcoming about the nature of this big job. A baffled-sounding cop told the Telegraph Herald all about it:

“When you would respond to it, ‘Hey, I’m interested, what do you have?’ she would immediately inform these people that she would like her father killed,” Lynn said. “She openly gives out the job specifics to anybody that responded.”
Lynn said several people called authorities about Schmidt’s ad. An undercover officer responded to the post Sunday and met with Schmidt. Lynn said Schmidt gave the officer a photograph of her father and repeated the request to have him killed.
“Basically we came in and took her up on her offer,” Lynn said. “We made sure she was serious about this.”

She was, they say. So were the cops, who arrested Schmidt and charged her with attempted murder and solicitation to commit murder. She has pleaded not guilty.

How she could have been a lot smarter: There are plenty of better ways to deal with parent-child friction. Consult a counselor. Yell into a pillow. Call the DJ Jazzy Jeff/Fresh Prince rap hotline and tell them your parents just don’t understand.

How she could have been a little smarter: If you want to hire a hit man, it’s best to go through established channels. Schmidt should have just gone down to Dubuque’s “Hit Man District” and spread the word the old-fashioned way.

How she could have been a little dumber: The only thing worse than trying to hire a hit man on Craigslist would be trying to hire a cut-rate hit man on Craigslist. Schmidt’s ploy would’ve been even less successful if, say, she’d tried to barter her father's murder for a used lamp.

How she could have been a lot dumber: “Hello, is this the number for Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart? It is? Great, have I got a job for you!”

Ultimate Dumbness Ranking (UDR): This is dumb, but if Schmidt really had been assaulted by her father, then you have to feel for her at least a little bit. Even so, there were probably several better ways—and certainly several smarter ways—to resolve the problem. Craigslist is great if you want to buy some old records or find a roommate. It is a terrible, terrible place to hire an assassin. “Usually this is something that takes place in a seedy bar or something like that,” a Dubuque cop said. “Who utilizes Craigslist?” Answer: a pretty dumb criminal. 5.5 out of 10 for Megan Schmidt.

Justin Peters is a writer for Slate. He is working on a book about Aaron Swartz, copyright, and the rise of “free culture.” Email him at justintrevett@fastmail.fm.