We all laughed when 21-year-old Josiah Garcia, a Tennessee Air National Guardsman, was arrested for trying to become a hitman by applying for the job on the satire website RentAHitman.com. But people have been trying to become hitmen for a long time, and many have learned their new trade in a “Contract Killing For Dummies” way.
They used a book called “Hit Man: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors.”
Written by an author using the pseudonym “Rex Feral,” the book is supposed to be an entertaining read on how to start a career as a hit man, from the point of view of a fictional hitman, who sometimes “interviews” murder experts, like police officers. It turns out that more than one interested reader has actually used it as the technical manual the title suggests.
In 1993, James Perry of Maryland was sentenced to death three times for killing Mildred Horn, her handicapped son, Trevor Horn, and Trevor’s nurse, Janice Saunders. Perry was hired to kill the trio by Horn’s ex-husband, Lawrence, who stood to inherit the $1.7 million trust fund set up for their son after hospital malpractice left him a quadriplegic.
Perry followed the instructions in the book “to the letter,” shooting Mildred Horn and Janice Saunders with a .22-caliber pistol, and then smothering the son in his bed. While there was nothing that tied Lawrence to his hired hitman, the book doesn’t provide information on how to act after the deed is done. Police immediately suspected Lawrence Horn and caught him talking to Perry via a series of wiretaps.
That didn’t stop the families of the victims from suing the publisher of the book, Paladin Press, for liability in providing the how-to manual for killing their loved ones. They eventually settled out-of-court, letting the book go out of print. But the publishers were sued again when the book was used for another murder in 1999, settling out-of-court yet again.
Yet, using the book as a how-to guide is a terrible idea. Forget that two people using it have been caught and “Hit Man: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors” was actually written by a Florida housewife, who scooped up all the information contained in the book from detective movies and mystery novels.
It’s also filled with terrible advice.
For poisoning, the book suggests using the fruit of the chinaberry tree. These are toxic to humans, but a fatal dose would require one percent of the person’s body weight. For a 200-pound man, this means feeding them two pounds of tree berries. It’s not exactly a smooth assassination.
It also recommends shooting a victim with a shotgun in a crowded, public place, dropping the murder weapon in the ensuing chaos and walking away. It demands carrying a double-edged, six-inch serrated knife for quiet kills, carrying weapons with the serial numbers chiseled off and using hollow point bullets. As any firearms aficionado will tell you, the last two will get you thrown in jail immediately upon discovery.
No one should try to become a contract killer. James Perry died in prison after using the Hit Man manual. Airman 1st Class Josiah Garcia is facing 10 years in federal prison for the bad judgment of following up on his job application and getting caught accepting money from an undercover cop. If something like a “how-to do something obviously illegal” guide or website is publicly available, best to assume it’s for entertainment purposes only.