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Jobseekers Lured to Ohio Farm Then Shot, Leaving 1 Dead

"a ruse to lure victims into the trap, most likely to commit a murder"

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- A jobseeker from Florida who responded to a bogus Craigslist ad for a job on a southeast Ohio cattle farm was found dead, buried in a shallow grave, and another from South Carolina was shot but escaped by running away through the woods, a sheriff said Thursday.

Noble County Sheriff Stephen Hannum said two men were taken into custody after cadaver dogs found the body of the Florida man this week in a grave in a remote area outside Caldwell, a small village about 80 miles east of Columbus.

The Akron Beacon Journal identified the two as a 16-year-old student from Stow-Munroe Falls High School and a 52-year-old Akron man.

The adult is being held in the Summit County Jail on $1 million bond, the newspaper said. His attorney could not be reached for comment. No further information was available about the juvenile.

Hannum said the search was undertaken after the South Carolina man escaped from the area on Nov. 6 and notified police, who later found a hand-dug grave authorities believe had been meant for him. AFP has the shocking details:

The middle-aged man told police that he met two people for breakfast in a little town called Marietta to discuss the job.

The asked him to drive out to see the farm and got him to walk in some woods after telling him the road was closed due to a landslide.

As they got deeper into the woods, he heard what sounded like a gun being cocked and turned around 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," Hannum said.

The man hid for seven hours in the woods and walked about two miles (three kilometers) away before feeling safe enough to seek help.

An autopsy on the Florida man was being performed Thursday in Licking County, outside Columbus, and Hannum said names of the suspects and victims were being withheld until at least Friday.

Authorities received a call five days after the South Carolina man was shot from the Florida man's twin sister, concerned that her brother had not been heard from since Oct. 22 in Parkersburg, W.Va., the sheriff said. The twin, in Boston, said her brother had responded to what she believed was the same Craigslist ad, which sought a caretaker for cattle on a 688-acre farm.

The sheriff said the South Carolina man had been told to carry his belongings to Ohio because he'd be living at the farm, and robbery was believed to be the motive.

"It seems that this was just a ruse to lure victims into the trap, most likely to commit a murder and relieve the deceased of their personal property," Hannum said.

He said it was unknown how long the ad had been online or how many people may have responded.

The sheriff said the call prompted officers to return to the remote area, where they found the grave believed to have been intended for the South Carolina man.

"A grave obviously had been dug that we assume had been dug for him, but he was shot and wounded and he got away," Hannum said. "We brought in cadaver dogs thinking that a possibility that the person that was advertising on Craigslist and lured this guy down here may very well have lured someone else to the same area. Our hunch was correct."

The cadaver search began Monday, and officers found the body the following day. The suspects were arrested Wednesday in Summit County, in northeast Ohio, about 90 miles away.

The Craigslist website, which features free classified ads for housing, jobs, personal announcements, items for sale and services, among other things, has been blamed for a number of deaths, including that of a New York City masseuse who authorities say was killed in 2009 by a Boston medical student she met through the site.

More recently, in September, the last of four defendants was sentenced in the 2010 killing of a Tacoma, Wash.-area man in a home robbery during which the group pretended to be interested in a diamond ring advertised on Craigslist.

Craigslist founder Craig Newmark has urged people to take precautions when using the site.

"It's been devastating to see that it can also be used by bad people to take cruel advantage of others," he said in 2009 at a ceremony honoring a Minnesota woman who died after responding to a phony ad for a baby sitter.

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