Man wanted 14-year-old killed, so he hired a hit man on the dark net, feds say

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A New Jersey man pleaded guilty Feb. 2 to using the cryptocurrency bitcoin to hire a hit man through a dark net murder-for-hire site, officials said.

The man, 31-year-old John Michael Musbach, spent 40 bitcoin, the equivalent of $20,000, on the site meant to facilitate contract killings, officials said. Musbach’s target was a 14-year-old with whom authorities said he had exchanged sexually explicit photographs.

Officials said Musbach first began exchanging inappropriate photographs and videos with the teen, who was 13 at the time, in summer 2015. When the child’s parents discovered the contact with Musbach over the internet, officials said they reached out to their local police.

In March 2016, officials say Musbach was arrested by the Atlantic County police on charges of child pornography.

At this point, Musbach “decided to have the victim killed so that the victim could not testify against him in the pending criminal case,” officials said.

Over a period of 13 days in May 2016, officials said Musbach regularly communicated with the administrator of a dark net murder-for-hire site. The website said it offered “contract killings or other acts of violence in return for payment in cryptocurrency,” according to officials.

Musbach arranged for a murder-for-hire for the teen through the site, officials said, and when he asked if 14 was too young for a target, he was told it wouldn’t be a problem.

Officials said Musbach paid the bitcoin and kept messaging the administrator of the site asking when the hit would happen. Musbach was then asked for an additional $5,000 to ensure the hit took place.

Musbach decided to cancel the hit instead and asked the administrator for a refund, officials said, and then the site administrator told Musbach the site was a scam. The administrator threatened to give Musbach’s information to law enforcement, according to officials.

Musbach is charged with using interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or greater.

Officials said Musbach will be sentenced for the murder-for-hire charges June 13.

If you have experienced sexual assault and need someone to talk to, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline for support at 1-800-656-4673 or visit the hotline's online chatroom.

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