What if an unexpected connection put you at risk of being murdered or becoming a murderer? If that sounds like something that could only happen in the movies, the murder of Justin Huff will make you think twice. Huff was a respected husband and Marine who fought in Iraq. He was murdered right when he was about to become a father.
As investigators began to look into the case, they discovered a online catfisher going by the name of “Samantha” had played a part in his death. How did a catfish lead to Marine Corporal Huff being killed by Navy intelligence specialist, Cooper Jackson? Well, it all started with a phone call to the Navy barracks.
How Marine Justin Hoff Got Murdered
It was the year 2005, when Cooper Jackson, a 22-year-old Petty Officer from the Navy, began talking to a woman he met over the phone. She called herself “Samantha” and he soon became smitten, as they called, texted, and sexted photographs. While we might call this meeting a “chance encounter”, no one would have guessed that the love and passion he felt for someone he had never met in person would unleash his desire to commit murder.
“Samantha” enjoyed conning people and connecting through an invented persona. For years, she would call random numbers at the Navy barracks and use a fake identity. She would pretend she had accidentally called a number and then attempt to connect.
Randomly, Jackson picked up the phone, and he thought he’d met a cute stranger. Using photographs she found online, and she pretended to be a blonde, blue-eyed petite woman.
Reports say that Jackson was socially awkward and didn’t have the best luck with girls, so he believed his connection with “Samantha” was something special. However, the woman he was speaking with was a 22-year-old high school drop out who was not at all petite. She enjoyed posing as a wealthy beautiful woman, and she and Cooper began talking for hours each day.
As catfish often do, “Samantha” agreed to meet Cooper in person, but never did. Cooper was growing suspicious, and Samantha came up with an excuse to push him away. She lied that she had slept with another guy at a party – a Marine.
However, something was wrong with Cooper, and he didn’t take the hint. Instead, he became obsessed with the idea that “Samantha” had been raped and badgered her until she agreed that was the case. He began investigation various Marines after “Samantha” gave a description of the fake rapist.
Invented Crime Leads to a Real One
“Samantha” lied that her rapist was tall and had dark hair. Cooper saw Huff and decided that he was the criminal responsible and, again, badgered her until she agreed or “admitted” that was the man’s name.
Unfortunately for Huff, he was innocent and had no idea who “Samantha” or Cooper was. As reported by CBS News, Justin Hoff was the kind of Marine most aspires to be. He was clean-cut and responsible, and not the type of person who would leave base without permission.
When Justin didn’t show up for roll call, his peers were surprised. NCIS agents investigating the case observed that Huff didn’t take his things, such as his winter coat, so it didn’t seem as though he’d stepped out for more than a moment.
They interviewed those who knew Huff and found out he’d received a visit from someone who pretended to be an NCIS officer investigating a sexual assault case, but Huff hadn’t believed the individual as he hadn’t shown his credentials. Surveillance video showed Huff leaving his dorm room and going out of view, the night he went missing.
Unfortunately for Huff, Petty Officer Cooper Jackson abducted and killed him. Huff’s friends spread the description of the fake NCIS man they’d seen around and, although he denied it, one of them grabbed his identification and learned his name was Cooper Jackson.
The investigation closed in with evidence to arrest Cooper, he admitted to kidnapping Huff, who begged to be spared and swore he had nothing to do with the crime, but Cooper murdered him anyway. Cooper led NCIS agents to Huff’s body and agreed to a plea deal, to avoid the death penalty.
He was sentenced to life in prison and no parole. He apologized to Huff’s family and finally saw “Samantha” in person for the first time. Instead of looking like the images she’d sent him, she was 300+ pounds.
Do you feel like Cooper Jackson got what he deserved or should have been sentenced to death? Is the woman who pretended to be “Samantha” also responsible for the murder, or was she only an insecure catfish looking to connect?
Let us know in the comments and use stories like these to remind yourself how crucial online (and offline!) safety is. Keep safe by researching all of your connections at Social Catfish – we can verify identity and protect you from catfish with fake images: