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News

Feds: South Jersey Man Contacted 'Murder-For-Hire' Dark Web Site To Kill Child Porn Victim, 14

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito thanked the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office and special agents of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in Newark and in St. Paul, Minnesota. U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito thanked the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office and special agents of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in Newark and in St. Paul, Minnesota.
U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito thanked the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office and special agents of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in Newark and in St. Paul, Minnesota. Photo Credit: Pixabay
A transcript of part of the suspect's alleged "dark web" conversation with a hit-man operation. A transcript of part of the suspect's alleged "dark web" conversation with a hit-man operation.
A transcript of part of the suspect's alleged "dark web" conversation with a hit-man operation. Photo Credit: U.S. Attorney's Office

A South Jersey man facing charges of child pornography has been arrested for trying to pay a "dark web" hitman $20,000 in Bitcoin to kill the 14-year-old victim, authorities said.

John Michael Musbach, 31, formerly of Galloway was first arrested on child pornography charges in March 2016, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said. Two months after that arrest, Musbach began communicating with a murder-for-hire website on internet, Carpenito said.

The website he visited advertised that they were the right guys "if you wanted to kill someone or beat the s--- out of him," the U.S. Attorney said on Thursday.

"We have professional hitmen available throughout the entire USA, Canada and Europe and you can hire a contract killer easily," the advertisement read. 

According to a transcript of Musbach's inquiry, he asked if a 14-year-old was too young to be targeted for a killing. After being told it wasn't, he arranged for the child to be killed for 40 Bitcoin, which is worth about $20,000, Carpenito said. 

Musbach faces up to 10 years in prison on the charge of use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire, Carpenito said. He also faces a fine of at least $250,000, authorities said.

In 2015, Musbach -- most recently from Camden County -- began communicating online with the then-13-year-old from upstate New York, authorities said. He solicited the child to exchange sexually explicit pictures and videos, Atlantic County prosecutors have said.

Musbach was arrested on March 31, 2016, on charges of child pornography, prosecutors said. In 2017,  Musbach pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child by sexual contact and was given a two-year suspended sentence with parole supervision for life.

Last year, a cooperating informant began giving information to agents from Homeland Security Investigations in St. Paul, Minnesota. This included information about Musbach's attempts to have the child killed, Carpenito said.

"Hey there, I am in south NJ and need a handgun with ammo because I lack the ability to obtain one myself legally," Musbach said in the original message. "How would getting this work and how much would it cost?

"Alternatively to a gun order, I could place a hit order. However, the target would be 14. Is that an acceptable age or too young? I can budget up to $20k for the order."

"Yes, 14 years old is acceptable," the response from the dark web read. "We have gang members to do the hit; however the price is about 18500. . . ."

"Ok I will get the bitcoin tomorrow the 9th and let you know once it's there and the order placed," Musbach replied, according to the transcript.

When pressed for another $5,000 to secure the hit, Musbach tried to cancel the request and get a refund, Carpenito said.

"I am sorry to disappoint you. Unfortunately, our site is a scam, and we pass customer and target information to law enforcement," came the response. Musbach was told the website had been hacked, and that he had four days to send an additional 22 bitcoin or the hackers would contact police.

Agents were able to confirm Musbach's identity and link him to the screen name used in the alleged murder-for-hire scheme, authorities said. They were also able to trace the flow of money from Musbach's account used in the scheme, Carpenito said.

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