The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office is investigating a Camden County, New Jersey man for child pornography-related crimes, and he was arrested today for reportedly paying $20,000 in bitcoin to have the 14-year-old victim murdered by a hitman. Rachael A. Honig, Acting US Attorney, made the announcement.
John Michael Musbach, 31, of Haddonfield, was charged with one count of murder-for-hire and will be arraigned at a later date, according to the indictment.
Documents filed in this case, as well as claims made in court, show that:
Musbach started interacting with his victim, who was 13 years old at the time, via an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) website in the summer of 2015. Musbach started asking for and receiving sexually explicit videos and photographs of the minor victim on IRC, as well as sending sexually explicit videos and photographs of himself to the victim.
The victim’s parents learned the existence of Musbach’s contacts with the victim in September 2015 and alerted local law enforcement officers in the victim’s home state of New York. Officers started looking into Musbach’s actions and called him to inform him that he was being investigated for his online inappropriate interaction with the victim and that he needed to stay away from her. When officers in New York identified Musbach as a resident of Atlantic County, New Jersey, they contacted the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office (ACPO), which took over the investigation.
Officers from the ACPO arrested Musbach on child pornography charges on March 31, 2016, and served a search warrant at his home in Galloway, New Jersey. Musbach’s mobile phone and company were confiscated by law enforcement officers. Musbach confessed to sending the victim sexually explicit photos and videos of himself, as well as requesting and receiving sexually explicit images and videos from the victim, all while recognizing the victim was under the age of 13.
Musbach pleaded guilty to endangering the health of a child (the victim) through sexual contact on Oct. 11, 2017, and was sentenced to a two-year suspended sentence with lifelong parole supervision on Feb. 9, 2018, by a New Jersey Superior Court Judge.
In 2019, a cooperating informant began supplying law enforcement with communications between Musbach and a dark-net-based murder-for-hire website that purported to provide murder-for-hire and contract killings or other acts of violence in exchange for cryptocurrency payments.
Musbach tried to hire a hitman via the website in May 2016, according to the messages. He inquired as to whether a 14-year-old was too young to shoot, and when told that age was not an issue, he charged approximately 40 bitcoin (roughly $20,000) for the hit. Musbach messaged the website’s administrator several times, following up on the hit and inquiring when it will happen. Musbach finally called for a refund of his $20,000 after being pressed for an extra $5,000 to secure the hit. The website’s administrator then admitted the site was a hoax and threatened to hand over Musbach’s personal details to law enforcement.
Agents were able to establish Musbach’s identity by connecting him to the same screen name he used to connect with the murder-for-hire website, as well as tracking the movement of funds from Musbach’s bank account to the purchase of bitcoin used to pay for the hit.
The charge of using interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire carries a maximum sentence of ten years in jail and a fine of $250,000, or twice Musbach’s gross income or twice the gross damages to the victim of his crime, whichever is greater.