Police are concerned, and a court may take action, after the Channel 4 I-Team discovered a suspect awaiting trial for rape trying to recruit a single woman to move in with him.
The roommate-wanted advertisement shocked a detective now involved in the case, and law enforcement says what we found is a good example of how careful you have to be online, especially when sharing information with people you don't personally know.
Justin Chandler is accused of raping a woman with disabilities at the Dickson Walmart last summer, allegedly in front of her child. What is worse is according to police records, the victim asked others to stop him but no one would help her.
Police later turned to Facebook for help identify the suspect, who was captured on surveillance pictures the day of the assault.
Police located Chandler and charged him with rape. Then, in August 2012, he was placed on house arrest by a Dickson County court and ordered to wear a GPS monitor while he awaited trial.
Then, in September, a judge removed those bond conditions, saying Chandler just had to stay away from the victim, her family and Walmart.
"It's hard to post something if you are wearing a GPS device. It would kind of tip somebody off the first time they met you something may be up," said Dickson Police Commander Eddie Breeden.
Breeden is talking about the Craigslist ad uncovered by the Channel 4 I-Team, which shows Chandler and says he is in the process of getting an apartment in Columbia.
Not only is his picture included, but he also states in the ad that he's only interested in rooming with a single female.
"If it was just a roommate wanting a roommate, it wouldn't be nearly as concerning, but by advertising just a female roommate, he could still have nothing up his sleeve or mean nothing by it. He hasn't been convicted, so there is nothing illegal by what he's done. It's just the timing of it may be a little suspicious," Breeden said.
The Channel 4 I-Team called the number listed on that ad and reached Chandler, who wouldn't talk with us on camera and told us to call his attorney.
A court official said as part of Chandler's bond condition, he would have to notify the judge that he plans to move, and there is nothing in his file that says he's moved.
Since the Channel 4 I-Team brought this ad to the attention of the Dickson County District Attorney's office, the prosecutor on the case has filed a motion asking the courts to review Chandler's bond conditions, asking Chandler to provide his current address and place of employment.
"I'd say to any women coming across any ad: just beware - beware of who you are going to move in with, try to find out some things about them. There are websites you can try to do some background checks. Be very cautious who you move in with," Breeden said.
The Channel 4 I-Team called Chandler's attorney, but he has not returned our calls. The ad in question is no longer on Craigslist, but we don't know why it was taken down or if anyone ever responded to Chandler's search for a single female roommate.
Chandler will have his day in court this August when he will go to trial on that rape charge. We will keep you posted on the outcome.
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