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Police: Newlyweds lure man through Craigslist for thrill killing

By Saeed Ahmed, CNN
updated 7:32 PM EST, Sun December 8, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Chief says town has one homicide every 18 months
  • Police say the couple tried others, but LaFerrara 's the only one who fell for it
  • The wife is accused of repeatedly stabbing the victim
  • The husband tells police he tied a cord around LaFerrara's neck

(CNN) -- It isn't that the man had done anything wrong to infuriate Elytte Barbour and his wife.

The couple - married three weeks -- just wanted to kill someone together, police said.

And Troy LaFerrara, 42, happened to be the unlucky one.

The Barbours are accused of luring LaFerrara through a "companionship" ad on Craigslist, and stabbing and strangling him to death.

Barbour told police he and his wife had tried to kill others. But the plans didn't work out.

"This," said Sunbury Police Chief Steve Mazzeo, "happened to be one that worked."

The ad

LaFerrara's body was found in the backyard of a home in Sunbury, a small city about 100 miles northwest of Philadelphia, on November 12.

He had been stabbed 20 times and strangled, police said.

The last number dialed on his cell phone led police to the Barbours.

At first, the wife, Miranda Barbour, 18, denied knowing the victim. But presented with more and more evidence that police had gathered, she confessed.

According to the police affidavit, this is what happened:

Miranda Barbour told police she would use Craigslist to meet men -- "men who wanted companionship," and were willing to pay her for it.

On November 11, she met LaFerrara at a mall, picked him up in her red Honda CR-V and drove to Sunbury.

Elytte Barbour was hiding under a blanket in the back seat, he said. The couple had agreed on a pre-arranged signal so that he would know when "it was time to kill the victim."

The death

After driving for a while, Miranda Barbour pulled over. LaFerrara reached over and began touching her, she said.

She then took a knife from between the front seats and stabbed him, she said. Once, twice, three times.

She told police she doesn't remember how long she went on.

LaFerrara tried to fight her, but couldn't. Elytte Barbour had tied a cable cord around his neck to hold his head back.

As LaFerrara fought, Elytte Barbour said he held tight.

The discovery

While they drove around looking for an an out-of-the-way spot to dump the victim, LaFerrara was still alive.

He was "choking and gasping for air," Miranda Barbour told police. But soon, his breathing stopped.

The couple dumped LaFerrara's body by the back garage of a house in Sunbury -- which is where resident Brittany Settler discovered it the next morning.

"I was making myself a cup of coffee and when I opened the fridge to get the creamer out," the Sunbury resident told CNN affiliate WHP. "I looked out and was like, 'What is that?'"

She walked over to the garage behind her house and saw the body.

LaFerrara's face was purple. He had his keys in his hand. And there was blood everywhere.

The cleanup

With the body gone, the Barbours' stopped at a Wal-Mart, bought garbage bags, carpet cleaner, paper towels and seat covers. They needed to clean up the sports utility vehicle.

"She related that there was a lot of blood and she wasn't able to get it all," police said.

After they were done, they went to a strip club. It was Elytte Barbour's 22nd birthday.

The reaction

In Sunbury, violent crime is rare, Chief Mazzeo said.

"We don't usually have homicides up here. This is a relatively peaceful town," he said. "We average a homicide maybe every 18 months to two years, so this is unusual."

The killing was the talk of the town over the weekend.

"It's surprising, and it's shocking, and it's unfair," Sunbury resident John Mickey told affiliate WNEP. "The man had a family. It's devastating. It really is."

Nancy Sholley was LaFerrara's neighbor. He was married.

"I just really feel sorry for (his mother)," Sholley told the affiliate. "She's a nice woman. We have always thought a lot of her. Just really, my heart goes out to her."

"Evil is all over," she added. "It is."

The charges

The Barbours were married October 22, the husband told the Daily Item newspaper. The pair moved to Sunbury from North Carolina, where he worked as a dishwasher.

Strapped for cash, his wife would meet "unhappy men" online and charge up to $850 for "delightful conversation," he said.

It's believed that Miranda Barbour had Craigslist encounters with at least 30 different men, according to a source close to the investigation. Police are trying to find those men, the source said.

The couple face a host of charges including criminal homicide, which is similar to first-degree murder.

"The defendant stated that they committed the murder because they just wanted to murder someone together," police said, referring to Elytte Barbour.

Miranda Barbour was denied bail and has a court hearing set for December 20. CNN's calls to her public defender were not returned Saturday night.

Elytte Barbour has a court date set for December 17. He is not yet represented by an attorney.

"We started with nothing," Mazzeo told CNN on Saturday. "We started with a dead body with no ID on it, dumped in somebody's backyard, no relation to anything in the area or the people who lived there.

"To close out this particular homicide in three to four weeks, that's pretty impressive."

But their work is far from over. In the coming days, "we are going to try to resolve some of the loose ends," he said.

Among them is this: Miranda Barbour has a 1-year-old child. The couple has told police the child's father is deceased.

That death is now a part of the investigation.

Ohio man convicted for three murders in Craigslist job ad killings

Craigslist killer sentenced to death

Facebook 'stalkers' face trial for model's murder

CNN's Morgan Winsor and Alexandra Field contributed to this report.

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