HAZELWOOD, Mo. – Authorities in two states on Wednesday were investigating the slaying of a 19-year-old Illinois college student who went missing while trying to sell his sports car on Craigslist.
Taylor Clark's body was found Tuesday night near a truck driving school in the St. Louis suburb of Hazelwood, Missouri, not far from where his abandoned 2007 Nissan 350ZX was located, according to Tim Fagan, the deputy commander of the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis and lead investigator.
Fagan said Clark, from the southwestern Illinois town of St. Jacob, was the victim of a homicide, though he declined to elaborate. No suspects were in custody as of midday Wednesday.
Clark, a sophomore engineering student at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, was reported missing by family members on Monday. Authorities say he was last seen by his girlfriend, and Fagan said Clark had listed his car for sale on Craigslist and had spoken to someone Monday morning about the ad.
"Our hearts and minds are with Taylor Clark's family and friends as they cope with this tragic loss," SIU-E Chancellor Julie Furst-Bowe said in a statement issued Wednesday. "At a time of the year when the new spring season brings the promise of brighter days ahead, and commencement provides unending potential for so many of our students, it is truly sad that Taylor had his bright future taken away."
The Belleville (Illinois) News-Democrat reported that Clark worked at a convenience store in Troy, where a candlelight vigil was scheduled for Wednesday night. A similar vigil was held Tuesday night on campus.
Clark's death comes the same week as a Monday court hearing in nearby St. Charles County in which a 23-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison for fatally stabbing a 45-year-old St. Louis man during a 2012 encounter and planned robbery set up through a Craigslist ad. The same day, Fairview Heights, Illinois police unveiled a "safe exchange zone" on its parking lot, complete with security cameras, to help citizens safely broker online transactions with strangers.
"You never know who it is you're contacting," Fagan said. "Precautions should be taken."
Associated Press reporter Jim Suhr in St. Louis contributed to this report.
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