NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee Air National Guardsman was arrested after federal agents said he responded to an online ad for a hitman through a parody website that he thought was real.
Josiah Garcia told an undercover FBI agent that he needed money and thought he would be good at killing people because of his military experience and because he was an excellent marksman, according to an affidavit filed in federal court Thursday.
Messages left with the office of the federal public defender in Nashville, which was appointed to represent Garcia, and with Garcia’s phone were not immediately returned Monday morning.
Garcia said he came across the website RentAHitman.com while searching the internet for contract mercenary jobs at the suggestion of a guard coworker. The site was originally created in 2005 to advertise a cybersecurity company that never took off. However, it received many inquiries over the years about murder-for-hire services, according to the affidavit. Eventually, the site administrator turned it into a parody site with fake testimonials, an intake form to request services, and an area to apply to become a hired killer.
Garcia submitted an employment application Feb. 16 and sent several follow-up emails over the next month. He included his name, address, phone number, date of birth and a photo of his Tennessee driver’s license, according to the affidavit.
In one follow-up he added a section on “Why I want this Job,” according to the affidavit. “Im looking for a job, that pays well, related to my military experience (Shooting and Killing the marked target) so I can support my kid on the way. What can I say, I enjoy doing what I do, so if I can find a job that is similar to it, (such as this one) put me in coach!” it reads.
At the beginning of April, an undercover FBI agent claiming to be a “field coordinator” for the company reached out to Garcia. They spoke extensively about the supposed job, including what Garcia would be paid and whether he was willing to torture people and cut off fingers or ears for a client. Garcia responded positively and said he was ready to start. Asked why he wanted to get involved in this, Garcia told the agent that he was looking into civilian law enforcement but wanted to do something more exciting.
On Wednesday, Garcia met the agent in a park where the agent provided him with a fictional “target package” containing photographs, a name, address and other information about the fake person he was supposed to kill. The agent also paid Garcia $2,500, supposedly the first of two installments. Garcia was arrested the same day.
Garcia told agents after his arrest that he had not intended to go through with it. He said he just received a job offer at a Nashville medical center that he intended to take instead.
Garcia was charged federally Thursday with using interstate facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee.