Craig’s List Pulls Plug on Erotic Services… Sort Of

The Ultimate Bust

In light of the recent Craigslist Murders and substantial pressure from US officials, Craig’s List is set to permanently remove its ‘erotic services’ section, which catered to horny individuals in search of “massages,” “companionship,” or any other euphemistic term that hints at a sexual exchange. While a pervert’s first response is to weep for the death of this particular category, Craigslist CEO Jeff Buckmaster aims to merely replace the category with “Adult Services” and charge both individuals and businesses with a small fee for placing ads. Essentially, “Erotic Services” will be dead… then it’ll get better, right?


Do the recent deaths warrant the removal or alteration of “ES”? When Juliette Brisman was found shot to death in a Boston Motel, it seemed to proclaim the death of Craig’s List’s allowance of sexual encounters. Her murderer, Phillip Markoff, went on to brutally assault Lucy Treffler, another woman who sollicited sensual massage services on Craig’s List. In late March, 47 year-old George Weber was shot to death by his paid lover, John Katehis (a self-described satanist and sadomasochist on his Myspace page). In 2007, after responding to a nanny ad on Craig’s List, 17 year-old Katherine Olsen was shot to death by 18 year-old Michael Anderson.

Katherine Olsen

The common thread that’s connected these deaths together is Craig’s List, but one can’t simply put the blame on its “Erotic Services” page for allowing this bloodshed to occur. First, let’s take a look at the criminals themselves. Phillip Markoff was a clean-cut guy (So was Ted Bundy and Paul Bernardo…) who was obviously developing a pattern: seduce, kidnap, then kill the sex workers he called. To his upper-class family and fiancee, Markoff was the last person they would accuse of such crimes. And, in comparison to his victims, he seemed like even more of an angel. At the other end of the spectrum, John Katehis used his sex worker angle to gain access to a wealthy client’s home and assets. Katehis was 16-years-old and highly dangerous. Of course, if he boasted his knife skills on Craig’s List, it’s highly doubtful he would attract business. Sure, “Erotic Services” has been used for monsters like Markoff and Katehis to ruin the lives of their victims and loved ones, but Katherine Olsen’s death (and many others) shows that Craig’s List, like any other ad service, is just a tool for those who choose to inflict their violence on random Craigslist-ers.

Erotic Services Page

For others… it’s just another way of buying a tug job.

Jeff Buckmaster and the folks at the CL further prove this, not by eradicating the “Erotic Services” page, but by pricing the ad and giving it a new name. And while others like CT Attorney Richard Blumenthal are launching an anti-smut crusade against the website, their offense isn’t making enough of a significant impact. Essentially, Craig’s List remains pro-prostitution and carries the message that it isn’t to blame for these recent murders, the criminals are.

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