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Tennessee Air National Guardsman applied to be a hit man on a website - and got arrested, FBI says

A 21-year-old Air National Guardsman in Tennessee is facing federal charges after sending his resume to a nefariously-named site — all because he said he needed money to support his family, court documents said.

The FBI alleges Josiah Ernesto Garcia used a site called "Rent-a-Hitman" to apply for a job as an assassin. Garcia was arrested at a park in Hendersonville, Tennessee, on Wednesday by an undercover agent, according to a news release.

It's the latest in a string of reported arrests linked to the website, originally created in 2005 to advertise a cyber security startup company that never took off. Instead, it became a parody site— complete with false testimonials, a request form, and a job application for aspiring hitmen. 

Founder Bob Innes told People Magazine in November 2022 that at least 30 people have been arrested after inquiring about hiring a hitman. The website is currently maintained by an administrator in the state of California, according to the criminal complaint. 

A screengrab of the "Rent-a-Hitman" site that has been linked to arrests for multiple alleged murder-for-hire plots.

According to court documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Garcia began "looking for employment" as an assassin in February. Garcia first asked the website administrator for a job description and later included his correct address and birthdate.

The website's administrator responded, asking for a copy of Garcia's resume, headshot and identification.  Garcia's resume indicated he was an expert marksman and had been employed in the Air National Guard.

The Air National Guard confirmed to CBS News that Garcia joined as an airman first class in July 2021.

Garcia had apparently been nicknamed "Reaper," which was "Earned from Military experience and Marksmanship." When there was no reply, Garcia followed up with the administrator repeatedly — saying he was eager to begin work as soon as possible. 

At the direction of the FBI, the administrator responded to Garcia with an email stating; "Josiah, a Field Coordinator will be in touch in the near future. You will receive a message when they are ready. Timing is based on client needs." 

An undercover FBI agent then called the suspect in April. When asked why he wanted to do this, Garcia responded he wanted to do something similar to what he was already doing. He said he wanted a flexible schedule because he was planning on going to college next year, the criminal complaint said. 

"I was looking into civilian law enforcement but that's not for me," he told the agent, according to the criminal complaint. "I wanted something more exciting."

When the two met in person, the agent told Garcia multiple times that he did not have to do this. His alleged response? 

"I've been looking into this for some time now. I was looking for a way to make good money," he said.  

He would eventually agree to kill an individual for $5,000. On Wednesday, Garcia met the undercover agent at a park and was provided with information on a fictional individual, including photographs and a down payment of $2,500. 

After agreeing to the terms of the murder arrangement — including the terms of payment and a description of the target — Garcia asked the agent if he needed to provide a photograph of the dead body. 

He was then arrested by FBI agents. After his arrest, Garcia said that he was looking for work because his family could not afford rent, court documents said.

Garcia was charged with the use of interstate facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.

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