National Guardsman Charged in Murder-for-Hire Scheme After Applying for Hitman Job on Parody Website

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
April 17, 2023US News
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National Guardsman Charged in Murder-for-Hire Scheme After Applying for Hitman Job on Parody Website
The FBI seal is pictured in Omaha, Neb., on Aug. 10, 2022. (Charlie Neibergall/AP Photo)

A Tennessee Air National Guardsman was recently arrested and charged with taking part in a murder-for-hire scheme after he allegedly applied to be a hit man on a parody website and accepted a contract to kill someone.

Twenty-one-year-old Josiah Ernesto Garcia was charged on Thursday, April 13 after he allegedly accepted a $2,500 down payment from an undercover FBI agent to kill someone. According to a criminal complaint filed in the Middle District of Tennessee, Garcia needed money to support his family and, in mid-February, began searching online for contract mercenary jobs before he came across the website www.rentahitman.com.

The Rent-A-Hitman website was originally established in 2005 as an advertising gimmick for a now-defunct cybersecurity startup company. Though the company failed, its website has remained active and, according to federal prosecutors, has actually received numerous inquiries about murder-for-hire services over the years.

The website’s operators have changed the website into a parody site, complete with several indicators of its inauthentic nature. Throughout the website are messages claiming to provide hit-man services that are compliant with the non-existent Hitman Information Privacy & Protection Act of 1964 (HIPPA)—a possible reference to the real-world Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The website also includes fake testimonials from people thanking the website for its discreet and anonymized murder-for-hire services.

At the bottom of the parody website is a disclaimer that reads: “Rent-A-Hitman is no longer affiliated with Diners Club, the Detroit Lions, the Illuminati, Donald Trump, Kyle Rittenhouse, Carole Baskin, or Vladimir Putin due to contractual restrictions.”

How Suspect Was Caught

The Rent-A-Hitman parody website also includes a field for prospective hit men to apply for work. According to prosecutors, Garcia submitted an initial application for work as a hit man. Garcia allegedly followed up this initial request by submitting identification documents and a resume, which noted that he was an expert marksman who had served in the Air National Guard since July of 2021. Garcia also claimed he earned the nickname “Reaper” as a result of his military experience and marksmanship skills, and the guardsman continued to follow up with the website administrators, indicating that he was looking to start working as soon as possible, according to prosecutors.

In one Feb. 20 application message, Garcia allegedly explained why he wanted the position. “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!”

The administrators of the parody website contacted Garcia on March 16 at the direction of the FBI. The website admins wrote, “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.” On April 3, an undercover FBI agent contacted Garcia and, on April 6, the two met at a restaurant and bar in Nashville, Tennessee.

Once Garcia and the undercover FBI agent met, the agent repeatedly asked Garcia if he still wanted to take on murder-for-hire employment, to which Garcia allegedly said “I’ve been looking into this for some time now. I was looking for a way to make good money.” Garcia also indicated that he works one weekend a month in the Air National Guard and would start attending college soon, but was otherwise unemployed.

“This is what you want?” the undercover FBI agent asked Garcia. “Because it sounds like you have a lot going on. You’re in the military. You’ve got college. You’ve got a lot going on, as far as good things in your life to kinda’ get in this world. It is a shady world, and I just don’t want you to have regrets if you come to work for us, because it, I mean it messes with your mind, shooting people.”

Garcia allegedly indicated he was okay with the psychological toll of killing someone, and would prefer to work in another state but would accept local murder-for-hire work if needed.

On April 12, Garcia and the undercover agent met once again and the undercover agent offered Garcia a job with a client paying up to $5,000 to kill someone. The undercover agent gave Garcia a fake target package describing his targets physical attributes, address, and employment information. Garcia accepted half of the payment upfront with a plan to take the rest after the killing was complete. During that meeting, Garcia asked the undercover agent if he needed to take a photo to document that he had actually killed the target.

Garcia was arrested after this April 12 meeting. FBI agents also recovered an AR-15-style rifle at Garcia’s home after his arrest.

What Garcia Said After Being Arrested

Following his arrest, Garcia waived his Miranda rights and agreed to an interview with FBI agents. During this interview, Garcia said he had recently been hired by Vanderbilt medical and that he had started having second thoughts about the murder-for-hire work. Garcia said he decided to go to the April 12 meeting with the undercover agent to tell the agent that he had changed his mind and didn’t want to pursue hit man work any further. Garcia told the FBI interviewers that he was going to call the undercover agent once he got back to his car and leave the money he had taken at the curb for the agent to pick up after he left the meeting area.

No attorney is listed for Garcia at this time.

Garcia is formally charged with violating 18 United States Code Section 1958, which deals with the use of interstate means of commerce for the commission of murder-for-hire. Garcia faces up to 10 years in prison if he is convicted.

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