Another Chilling Reason Not to Solicit Sex on Craigslist

The internet is still a recent invention and in many ways, we're still learning to navigate the ins and outs of this wondrous and sometimes woeful creature of communication. (Unless of course you were born in 2004 or something—pretty sure all babies birthed that year came with an in utero WiFi connection.) In any case, it is my hope that we—as a culture—learn some sure fire ways to avoid tragic encounters with online strangers. 

Case in point: Brooke Slocum and Charles Oppenneer. Oh, and their unborn baby. Slocum was only 18, and Oppenneer was just 25. Apparently, the two had posted a Craigslist ad (the specifics haven't been confirmed yet) for a sexual encounter, which acquaintances claim Slocum often did (alongside Oppenneer) make a little extra money.

This particular time, the clearly psychopathic Brady Oestrike responded; the harrowing "gathering" ended with Slocum strangled to death, and Oppenneer decapitated (head is still missing). Oestrike (allegedly) shot himself following the violent outburst. 

There's speculation that this wasn't Oestrike's first bout with sadism; an anonymous bartender claimed that Oestrike once bragged about trapping a woman in a suitcase, transporting her in his trunk, then tying her up in his home. Naturally, the bar staff notified the cops. In this instance, investigators found that Oestrike did indeed have a role-playing contract with that particular woman (although she's apparently A OK despite said trunk. The bartender questioned did note that Oestrike stopped patronizing the bar after the investigation. Pretty suspicious. 

In any case, Slocum and Oppeneer were (likely) blissfully unaware of Oestrike's penchant for punishment. They just wanted to have some fun and (allegedly) make a little cash too. Oppeneer had two kids from a previous relationship, and Slocum was preparing to bring another into the world. Our economy is rough—I can't cast judgment here. Slocum's family stated that they tried to "curtail, inform, protect and advise against the evils that this tragedy has brought forward," but—as they admit—one can't control another's actions. 

Quick Tips for Online Safety

So, I'm just gonna go ahead and say it. You shouldn't be soliciting for sex on Craigslist. (If you're into anonymous and maybe for-hire sexual encounters become a webcam girl; it's safe and oh-so-lucrative.) But fine. If you insist on trolling the Intrawebs for sweet sweet love I've rounded up the best tips I could find for online "socializing."

- Maintain anonymity. Don't reveal personal contact information. Use the site/app's messaging system.

- When posting pictures, be careful not to include landmarks near your home. Example: if you live in the Marina or Presidio districts in San Francisco, don't post a picture with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. Other shots of this city are fine, just not near your home. 

- Check out someone's reputation before agreeing to meet. It's 2014. You can find at least some information fairly easily. 

- Always be skeptical. Note when you hear inconsistencies in stories, anger, disrespect or any other things that make your gut scream "run!" 

- Keep your first encounter brief and in a highly populated place. A busy cafe is a great place to meet. If you're feeling extra cautious, call ahead and ask when their busiest time is. 

- NEVER provide financial information

Use one of these four apps so someone always knows where you are and if you've been gone too long.

Image: You just. never. know. Courtesy of ThinkStock 

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