Kent man in Craigslist sex-murder ad enters plea in court

A 24-year-old Kent man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a charge of conspiracy to commit second-degree murder after he reportedly placed an ad on Craigslist to meet a woman for sex and then kill her.

Shawn Tyler Skelton remained Wednesday at the county jail in Seattle in lieu of $1 million bail. He is scheduled to return to court for a case hearing on May 27. If convicted as charged, he faces a sentencing range of seven years, eight months to 13 years, nine months.

Seattle Police arrested Skelton April 27 after he knocked on the door of a room at a Seattle motel, where he earlier had agreed to meet a woman (an undercover detective) for sex and then to kill her, according to charging papers. Skelton had a length of heavy chain, a knife and two long shoelaces in his possession.

An employee at Craigslist sent an e-mail to Seattle Police April 22 about a suspicious advertisement, entitled “A Strange Desire,” posted on the Casual Encounters section of the Seattle-Tacoma online bulletin board, according to court documents.

An undercover detective responded to the ad. That started an exchange of 30-plus e-mails over the next several days, said Seattle Police spokesman Mark Jamieson. Skelton and the undercover detective then set up a time, date and location to meet.

Skelton also wrote during an exchange of e-mails that he wanted to be paid for carrying out the plan to kill the woman, according to court documents. He wrote he placed the ad to look for someone who wanted to be killed, but that he was willing to kill an unwitting participant.

Police said they decided to initiate contact with the Kent man because of several recent incidents nationwide that involved online advertising sites and to evaluate any potential threat to the community, according to a police media release.

Skelton lives in Kent with his girlfriend’s great-grandmother, according to court documents.

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