has learned that the man police investigated for posting an ad on Craigslist, offering to give away his 3-year-old son as part of an essay contest, is a writer for The Stranger.

In the ad, the man offered to give his 3-year-old boy Gunnar away to the person who sent in the best essay on why they "would be a fit parent" for the young child:

[H]ere we are today, almost three years since Gunnar's birth, and the wife and I need a change. All this kid does now is eat and poop and eat some more, or complains that his "teeth hurt" or that he is "cold and itchy" or that his "tummy hurts," and he is always running around and getting dirty. If there was such a thing as a dirt magnet, Gunnar would be one. Sometimes the wife and I taunt hum and call him "Pigpen" over and over — the we have a good laugh as we watch Gunnar's tears make little brown streaks down his fat little cheeks.

After a man in Orting, WA spotted the ad online on tipped police, detectives learned that the posting was a hoax. While police records include the Stranger writer's name and email address, which is linked to his Facebook account, we are not naming him because he has not been charged with a crime.

For weeks, Detectives worked with judges to obtain multiple warrants, contacted internet service providers, and combed through emails for weeks until they found their man. Police contacted the man on June 14th, and he admitted to detectives that he "placed the ad as a joke" as part of a competition with a friend. The man does not have children.

The Stranger—where I was previously employed by the news department—has a long-running editorial policy of critiquing the police for misusing or improperly allocating resources, whether in vice stings, pot arrests, or jaywalking stops.

So it's a bit ironic that detectives in SPD's Internet Crimes Against Children unit—which is staffed by about a half-dozen detectives, who investigate child porn cases, and perform stings in internet chat rooms—spent a month investigating a Stranger employee writer employee writer employee  writer, to make sure he wasn't actually trying to give away a vulnerable child.

While the Stranger writer's prank was almost unbelievably absurd, police across the country have investigated numerous hoax cases of people trying to sell children on the internet, and some of these attempted sales turned out to be very real. Last month, Toronto police busted a California couple for trying to sell their six-month-old daughter to a man outside of a Wal-Mart for $25.

When contacted this afternoon, the man claims he posted the ad as “a commentary on irresponsible parents" and “wasn’t trying to promote child abuse or anything like that.”

The man says he has previously posted joke-ads on Craigslist, but nothing similar to the one which police investigated last month. "I was trying to get a laugh out of a friend," he says.

This post has been updated since its original posting because I'm having fun creating mysteries for Christopher "Scoop" Frizzelle to try and solve.

UPDATE: OK, I wasn't going to post on this anymore tonight, but this comment left on The Stranger's blog—not by me or, to my knowledge, anyone else I know—gets at the crux of the absurdity of their response PERFECTLY:

How do you know he "quietly" changed it?! He didn't crank up some Radiohead before logging on to edit? I demand a retraction for this baseless accusation!

I love that you're playing up this on your blog, to setup a "gotcha!" after the jump -- where the kicker is that you actually don't pay someone that writes for you. Jesus. Even my college paper paid me like $10 an article.

Frizzelle: "Hey Jonah, that Craiglist guy? He's not an employee."

Jonah: "Huh? I see his work on your site."

Frizzelle: "Right, he's not an employee. Take that fucker!"

Jonah: "So this writer doesn't work for you?"

Frizzelle: "No, he writes for us. I wouldn't say he works for us."

Jonah: "What am I not getting here..."

Frizzelle: "Are you going to retract it? You clearly should have known that a Stranger writer that does work for us isn't an employee."

Dear anonymous commenter, you're hired.

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