Tennessee Air National Guardsman applied to be a hitman online, the FBI says. It was a spoof website and now he’s facing charges

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CNN
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A Tennessee Air National Guardsman is facing charges after applying to be a hitman on a spoof “rent-a-hitman” website, according to the Department of Justice.

Josiah Ernesto Garcia, 21, was charged Thursday after submitting an employment inquiry to the website rentahitman.com, which is a parody site that includes “testimonials” from purportedly satisfied hit-man customers.

The website was originally created in 2005 to “advertise a cyber security startup company,” the Justice Department said in a news release. “The company failed and over the next decade it received many inquiries about murder-for-hire services.”

Garcia indicated in February that he had “military experience, and rifle expertise” and requested an “in depth job description,” according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday.

“Garcia followed up on this initial request and submitted other identification documents and a resume, indicating he was an expert marksman and employed in the Air National Guard since July 2021. The resume also indicated that Garcia was nicknamed “Reaper,” which was earned from his military experience and marksmanship, the Department of Justice said in the news release.

Garcia sent another follow-up email days later, saying he didn’t hear back after submitting a resume, according to the complaint.

According to investigators, Garcia wrote in the email, “Why I want this Job* 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!”

After Garcia sent more follow-up emails, the website owner – at the direction of the FBI – responded with an email saying, “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,” according to the complaint.

On April 5, an FBI undercover agent contacted Garcia for a phone interview, during which he asked, “How soon can I start?” and “What do the payments look like?” according to the complaint.

The undercover agent asked Garcia if he was comfortable with taking fingers or ears as trophies or performing torture at a client’s request.

“If it’s possible and in my means to do so, I’m more than capable,” Garcia said, according to the complaint.

In an in-person meeting with the undercover agent on Wednesday, Garcia “was presented with a ‘target package’ consisting of photographs and a description of a fictional target’s name, weight, age, height, address, and employment information,” the complaint said.

Garcia was told the target was the client’s husband, who was abusive to her, and that the client was paying $5,000 for the job with a down payment of $2,500, the complaint said.

“After agreeing to the terms of the murder arrangement, Garcia asked the agent if he needed to provide a photograph of the dead body,” according to the Justice Department release. “Garcia was then arrested by FBI agents, who in a subsequent search of his home, recovered an AR style rifle.”

Garcia is charged with the use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted, the Justice Department said.

CNN has been unable to reach Garcia’s attorney for comment. Garcia is set to appear in court on Tuesday afternoon.

CNN has reached out to the Air National Guard for comment.

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