Watch CBS News

New Jersey man admits to paying hit man $20,000 in bitcoin to kill 14-year-old child, Justice Department says

Digital Brief: Feb. 3, 2023 (AM)
Digital Brief: Feb. 3, 2023 (AM) 02:31

A New Jersey man admitted to paying $20,000 in cryptocurrency to have a 14-year-old child murdered, according to a news release from the Department of Justice on Thursday. 

John Michael Musbach, 31, pleaded guilty to an indictment charging him with one count of "knowingly and intentionally using and causing another to use a facility of interstate and foreign commerce, that is the internet, with the intent that a murder be committed," according to the news release. 

Musbach is a resident of Haddonfield, N.J., but lived in Atlantic County when he first made contact with the unidentified victim, prosecutors say. The victim lived in New York at the time. 

Musbach exchanged sexually explicit photos and videos with the victim in the summer of 2015, the DOJ said, and the victim's parents called police when they found out about the "inappropriate contact." New York law enforcement officers identified Musbach as an Atlantic County resident and contacted the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office (ACPO). In March 2016, ACPO officers arrested Musbach on child pornography charges, the DOJ said. 

After Musbach was arrested, he "decided to have the victim killed so the victim could not testify against him in the pending criminal case," prosecutors allege. During a two-week period in May 2016, Musbach "repeatedly communicated" with the administrator of a murder-for-hire website on the dark net, the DOJ said. The website, which was not named by the DOJ, purported to offer contract killings or other violent acts in return for cryptocurrency payments. 

Musbach allegedly arranged for a murder-to-hire and asked the purported hit man if "a 14-year-old was too young to target." Prosecutors say Musbach then paid $20,000 in bitcoin for the hit. After Musbach asked the website's administrator for more details about the hit and when it would occur, he was pressed for an additional $5,000, the DOJ said. 

When Musbach then tried to cancel the hit, the website administrator revealed the "website was a scam," and threatened to reveal Musbach's information to law enforcement, prosecutors said.

The DOJ did not say if it was the website administrator who made authorities aware of Musbach's murder-for-hire plot. 

The charge of use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of at least $250,000, the DOJ said. Musbach is scheduled to be sentenced on June 13.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.