by Susan Katz Keating
Another member of the Air National Guard has been hit with criminal charges – this time, not for leaking classified documents. It has to do with murder-for-hire.
A Tennessee man who serves in the Air National Guard agreed to kill someone for a client who actually was an undercover FBI agent, according to the U.S. Attorney for Middle Tennessee. Officials charged Josiah Ernesto Garcia, 21, with the use of interstate facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire.
According to law enforcement officials, Garcia needed money to support his family, and was looking for ways to make extra income. In mid-February he began searching online for work as a gun for hire. He came across the website www.rentahitman.com, officials said.
Garcia apparently missed the clues that would have told him he’d found a parody website. Clues such as, the group said it was awarded “Best In Class from the International Association of Retired Hitmen.” Instead, Garcia seemed to take at face value the company owned by “Guido,” whose family “has proudly served hundreds of clients over the last century, many of whom have become great leaders in our world and a few not so great ones!”
Created in 2005 to advertise a cyber security startup company, the website morphed into a parody page that contains false testimonials from people who have purported to use its hit men services, and an intake form where people can request an assassin. The website also has an option for someone to apply to work as a hired killer.
Garcia submitted a note saying he wanted to work as a hit man, officials said.
In an April 13 criminal complaint, officials included an alleged excerpt from Garcia’s employment application.
“I’m 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,” Garcia allegedly wrote. “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!”
According to officials, Garcia sent in his identification documents and a resume, saying he was an expert marksman and employed in the Air National Guard since July 2021. The resume stated that Garcia was nicknamed “Reaper,” which he earned from military experience and marksmanship.
Garcia continued to follow up with the website administrator, indicating that he wanted to go to work as soon as possible, officials said. The webmaster contacted the FBI.
An FBI undercover agent then began communicating with Garcia, who seemed eager to start work.
When asked if he were comfortable with taking fingers or ears as trophies, or performing torture at a client’s request, Garcia allegedly responded: “If it’s possible and in my means to do so, I’m more than capable.”
Garcia soon agreed to kill a man in exchange for $5,000, officials said.
On April 12, Garcia met the undercover agent at a park in Hendersonville, Tennessee. He was given a fictional target packet, which included photographs and other information about a man to be killed, and a down payment of $2,500.
After agreeing to the terms of the murder arrangement, Garcia asked the agent if he needed to provide a photograph of the dead body.
The FBI then arrested Garcia.
According to the charging documents, Garcia explained that a co-worker at the Air National Guard suggested that he look for “contract mercenary jobs.” He searched the term online, and came across the rentahitman.com website. He also allegedly said that he had changed his mind about being a hit man, and had wanted to quit and return the money.
If convicted, Garcia faces up to 10 years in prison.
The Tennessee Air National Guard did not immediately respond to a request for comment.