An Air National Guardsman looking for a well-paying job to support his baby on the way eagerly applied for work as a hitman online, US federal prosecutors said.
The aspiring assassin applied through a website called “Rent-A-Hitman,” according to officials who said it’s a parody platform.
When Josiah Ernesto Garcia, 21, of Hermitage, a neighborhood in Nashville, didn’t hear back after submitting a resume, he sent a follow-up email explaining he wanted a job related to his military skills, court documents show.
“Put me in coach!,” Garcia wrote, according to a criminal complaint.
Garcia was arrested by FBI agents on April 12, the US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee announced in an April 14 news release. He’s now facing murder-for-hire charges, prosecutors said.
Information regarding Garcia’s legal representation wasn’t immediately available.
‘The dark web is not safe, but we are!’
While looking for “contract mercenary jobs,” Garcia found www.rentahitman.com and applied for work, prosecutors said.
The website, established in 2005, initially advertised a cybersecurity startup, according to officials. After the company failed, the site started receiving murder-for-hire related inquiries and the website’s administrator turned the platform into a parody site, prosecutors said.
The website includes fake testimonials from customers who purportedly used the site’s hitman services.
“The dark web is not safe, but we are!,” the website says online.
Garcia says he wants a ‘more exciting’ job
On Feb 16, 2023, Garcia submitted an inquiry expressing his interest in working as a hitman, the complaint says.
The website’s owner, using an alias, responded and asked Garcia to provide a resume, head shot and photo of his ID – so Garcia did, according to the complaint.
On his resume, Garcia said he was nicknamed “Reaper” for his “military experience and marksmanship,” the complaint says.
He sent three follow up emails to the website’s owner when he didn’t hear back, according to investigators.
On March 16, the FBI directed the website’s owner to email Garcia saying a “field coordinator” would contact him soon, the complaint says.
Then, an FBI agent pretending to be a job recruiter scheduled an interview with Garcia, who told them he’d kill an individual for “as little” as US$2,500, according to the complaint.
He also said he was comfortable with torturing someone and “taking fingers or ears as trophies” if requested by a client, the complaint says.
When asked why he was interested in the hitman job, Garcia said since he was in the military, he was “doing that sort of work already”, the complaint shows.
“I was looking into civilian law enforcement but that’s not for me,” Garcia told the undercover FBI agent, according to the complaint. “I wanted something more exciting.”
On April 6, Garcia met the undercover agent at a restaurant and bar in Nashville where he asked if the hitman job was flexible as he works one weekend per month in the Air National Guard and planned to attend college in 2024, the complaint says.
He also told the undercover agent that he would rather work in a different state but “is ok to kill some local people,” according to the complaint.
When the undercover agent told Garcia that he’d make a lot of money if he killed 50 people, Garcia said “that’s rookie numbers for the Reaper,” the complaint says.
“My only question is when can I start? I’m very excited,” Garcia told the agent, according to the complaint.
Garcia gets arrested
Ultimately, Garcia agreed to kill someone for US$5,000 and met with the undercover agent at a park in Hendersonville on April 12, prosecutors said.
After Garcia was provided with fake information about a fictional target, he agreed to the plan and asked if he needed to show a photo of the dead body, according to prosecutors.
Then, the FBI arrested him and later found an AR style rifle during a search of his home, the release said.
Garcia faces up to 10 years in prison if he’s convicted on the charges against him. – The Charlotte Observer/Tribune News Service