A central Pennsylvania man who allegedly skipped his September trial on child rape charges has been charged with robbing and killing a suburban Philadelphia man he met on the Internet, then using the victim's bank and credit cards in at least five states before his arrest in North Carolina.
Chad Marshall Wilcox, 28, of Williamsport, was arraigned Friday on charges of first-degree murder, robbery and related offenses in the Sept. 21 death of Manuel Hakimian, 36, of Norristown. He is being held without bail and has a preliminary hearing scheduled for Nov. 7. Online court records do not list an attorney for him.
"This is a very vicious murder," said Montgomery County Deputy District Attorney Thomas W. McGoldrick. "The evidence suggests that the victim was tied up when he was killed. We allege that the defendant actually cut the victim's throat."
Hakimian's body was discovered by family members who went to his apartment Sept. 21 when he failed to show up for a family function, and police found that his cellphone, computer, wallet and car were missing, according to a criminal complaint.
Investigators tracked purchases using the stolen bank and credit cards in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Tennessee, and got surveillance video from several places showing a man making the purchases and withdrawing cash.
Police in Bowling Green, Kentucky, spotted Hakimian's stolen car around midnight Sept. 24 and gave chase, but the driver crashed the car and escaped on foot. Inside the car, police found a folding knife with blood on it along with receipts matching some of the purchases made with the stolen cards, according to court documents.
Wilcox was arrested in Johnston County, North Carolina, a few days later, and was returned to Lycoming County in central Pennsylvania on a bench warrant issued after he failed to show up at his rape trial.
Wilcox told detectives that, on the day the trial was supposed to begin, he traveled to the Philadelphia area and posted an advertisement on Craigslist seeking sex with men, intending to rob them of money to feed his heroin addition, according to court documents.
He said Hakimian picked him up on Sept. 20 and drove him back to Hakimian's Norristown home, according to a criminal complaint. He also claimed he plotted with three other men to rob Hakimian.
Wilcox said he got a clothesline from the basement and tied Hakimian's wrists and ankles to the bed before going outside for a cigarette, the complaint said. He allegedly claimed that Hakimian was killed by the other men.
Police said there's no evidence that others were involved in the crimes and that they believe Wilcox acted alone.
"I think there is a cautionary tale that can be taken from this case," said McGoldrick. "Meeting strangers online is terribly dangerous, not just for kids but adults too. You never know who's on the other end of that Internet connection."
The case recalls the case of newlywed couple Elytte and Miranda Barbour, who were charged with luring a Pennsylvania man to his death using a Craigslist ad. They were sentenced last month to life in prison without parole in last year's killing of Troy LaFerrara, 42, of Port Trevorton, who had responded to an ad offering female companionship.