CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey man who sought and exchanged sexually explicit videos and images with a 13-year-old New York girl paid $20,000 in bitcoin in a bid to have the child victim murdered before eventually calling it off, prosecutors announced Thursday.
John Michael Musbach, 31, of Haddonfield, New Jersey, is charged with using interstate commerce facilities in the commission of a murder-for-hire plot. He was due to make his initial court appearance Thursday via videoconference and was being represented by the Federal Public Defenders Office, which generally does not comment on cases.
Musbach began communicating online with the victim in the summer of 2015. Musbach eventually began using those chats to request and receive sexually explicit videos and photographs of the girl and to send her similar videos and images of himself, according to federal prosecutors in New Jersey.
The girl’s parents discovered the nature of the chats in September 2015 and notified local law enforcement officers in New York state, where they lived. Officers soon notified Musbach that he was under investigation for his online sexual contact with the victim and was told to stay away from her. They also sought assistance from the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office because that’s the area where Musbach lived.
Musbach was arrested on child pornography charges in March 2016 and eventually pleaded guilty to child endangerment in October 2017. He received a two-year suspended prison sentence and was placed on lifetime parole.
In 2019, a cooperating informant began providing information to Homeland Security agents in St. Paul, Minnesota, and provided messages between Musbach and a website which purported to offer contract killings or other acts of violence in return for payment in cryptocurrency.
Those messages revealed that in May 2016, Musbach arranged through the website for the child to be killed, prosecutors said. After asking if the girl was too young to target and being told the age wasn’t a problem, prosecutors said Musbach paid approximately $20,000 in bitcoin for the hit.
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 website’s administrator then revealed that the site was a scam and threatened to reveal Musbach’s information to law enforcement.