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Contractor holds employee captive in Marbrisa home


Answering a Craigslist job ad for “a couple ladies” to help with yard work and cleaning at an Indian River Shores home turned into a five-hour ordeal for a Vero Beach woman who was imprisoned in the home against her will and subjected to unwanted sexual advances and assault by a contractor.

The contractor, John Murphy, 50, of the 100 block of 15th Street SW, Vero Beach, is now in the Indian River County jail, having been unable to raise $55,000 bond after being charged with one felony charge of false imprisonment and one misdemeanor charge of battery.

According to the police report, the woman, who is not being identified in accordance with a long-standing policy to withhold the names of victims of sex crimes, responded to a Craigslist job posting for general labor by Murphy, a painting contractor, who told authorities he had an arrangement with the owner to live at the residence while the house was being prepared for sale.

There was no indication that the owner of the home at 112 South Caramel Court in the Marbrisa subdivision of Indian River Shores, identified on the Property Appraiser’s website as Jody Schwartz, had any idea what was going on.

The victim responded to the advertisement and met Murphy the night before the incident for an interview. The victim’s mother accompanied her on the interview, where Murphy gave her the job and told her to report to the home at 9 a.m. last Monday.

Upon her arrival, Murphy told the victim to prepare a bathroom for painting. While she was in the bathroom, Murphy began making sexually explicit comments and asking her to engage in sexual activities.

The woman told authorities she refused Murphy’s advances, but when she attempted to leave the home, Murphy pushed her and pinned her against a wall, telling her she was not allowed to leave the house.

The victim said she saw a chance to get away at lunchtime in her car, but Murphy got into the car with her. Fearful of making him mad, she drove him to Burger King to get food.

After lunch, the victim was able to send a “desperate” text message to her husband, who responded, let himself into the Indian River Shores home through an open door, and helped his wife flee to report the incident to the police.

The woman and her husband waited at the entrance to Marbrisa for police to arrive and officer Mike Benoit of the Indian River Shores public safety department responded to the call. Assisted by two other officers from Indian River Shores, Benoit found Murphy still in the home. According to the arrest report, Murphy said the incident was due to a “misunderstanding” with the woman.