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Crime News

Man Sentenced for Using Murder-For-Hire Website to Attempt Hit on 14-Year-Old Sexual Abuse Victim

John Musbach shared sexually explicit photos and videos with a 13-year-old, then, a year later, tried to hire a hitman over the dark web to have the child killed.

By Elisabeth Ford
A mugshot of John Michael Musbach

A New Jersey man was sentenced to 78 months in prison Tuesday for a murder-for-hire plot against a child he shared sexually explicit images with.

John Michael Musbach, 34, pleaded guilty in February to one count of knowingly and intentionally using and causing another to use a facility of interstate and foreign commerce, the internet, with the intent that a murder be committed, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.

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Musbach exchanged sexually explicit photos and videos over the internet in the summer of 2015 with a then-13-year-old. The parents of the New York-based victim contacted local authorities after learning of the inappropriate exchange, according to the DOJ.

New York law enforcement identified Musbach — who was living in Atlantic County, New Jersey at the time — as a suspect and reached out to officers from the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, who arrested him in March of 2016 on child pornography charges and searched his Galloway, New Jersey home.

In May of 2016, Musbach attempted to have the victim killed so the child could not testify against him in the pending criminal case.

“Musbach repeatedly communicated with the administrator of a murder-for-hire website, which operated on the dark net, and which purported to offer contract killings or other acts of violence in return for payment in cryptocurrency, and arranged for a murder-for-hire,” the release stated.

After confirming with the website administrator that a 14-year-old was not too young to be targeted, Musbach paid approximately 40 bitcoin for the hit, which was worth roughly $20,000 at the time.

Musbach repeatedly followed up with the website’s administrator with messages asking when the hit on the child would occur, but then backed out of the deal when asked for additional funds.

“When pressed for an additional $5,000 to secure the hit, Musbach eventually sought to cancel and asked for a refund of his $20,000,” the release said. “The website’s administrator then revealed that the website was a scam and threatened to reveal Musbach’s information to law enforcement.”

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In addition to the 78-year prison term, the judge sentenced Musbach to three years of supervised release and fined him $30,000.

“Musbach’s efforts to silence his victim shows the extreme length child predators will go to avoid paying for their heinous activities,” Homeland Security Investigations Newark Special Agent in Charge Ricky J. Patel told NBC 4 New York.

“In this case, we were able to use our investigative authorities and undercover platforms to find Musbach lurking in the dark web where he sought to further harm his victim by funding a murder for hire,” Patel said. "We will not stop our efforts to protect children and make these criminals pay. There will be serious consequences for child sexual predators who believe they can get away with their vile actions.”