Bad grammar may link gamer to dark web murder-for-hire plot
▶ Watch Video: Sneak peek: Find Yura – Manhunt on the Dark Web
This story previously aired on February 29, 2020. It was updated on April 10, 2021.
For more than two years, “48 Hours” correspondent Peter Van Sant has been on a journey through the dark web—and around the world — investigating websites that advertise hitmen-for-hire. Van Sant’s 2018 report, “Click for a Killer,” exposed about 20 active murder plots. Now, a terrifying new murder-for-hire plot from the lawless dark web: who targeted a Minnesota teen for murder? And who agreed to arrange her assassination?
Van Sant and “48 Hours” investigate the alleged plot to kill and go on a global hunt to track Yura — the so-called mastermind behind murder-for-hire sites, whose identity and location are unknown. The search has led “48 Hours” to England, India, the Eastern European country of Moldova and eventually culminated in a dramatic encounter in Queens, New York.
Navigating the dark web can be tricky – even dangerous. Our secret weapon: a dark web intelligence analyst, working under the alias “Lisa,” to scour the digital world for Yura’s real identity and location.
“Everybody can be found,” she says. “Yura can be found.”
Late on a frigid night in February 2019, 18-year-old Alexis Stern was driving near her hometown of Big Lake, Minnesota, when she says she noticed a white van in her rearview mirror.
Alexis Stern: So, we started driving around town, taking detours.
But the van stuck with her. In a growing panic, she called authorities, who later located and spoke with the van’s driver.
Alexis Stern: He claimed he was lost. He didn’t know where he was.
Peter Van Sant: You have no doubt you were being followed, right?
Alexis Stern: Yeah.
Alexis had every reason to be worried because of something that had happened just months earlier, when out of nowhere, the police had called her.
Alexis Stern: “We have to talk to you … It’s dire and you need to come now.”
Peter Van Sant: “It’s dire,” he says?
Alexis Stern: Yes. He said It was urgent. … I had no idea what to expect. … Did someone die? Is someone hurt? Like, am I in trouble?
When Alexis arrived at the police station, she got stunning news.
Alexis Stern: He was just like, “I think you should sit down … Someone put a hit out on you … and they want you dead.” … I was like, “this is a joke, right?”
It was not a joke. On the dark web, someone using the alias Mastermind365 had gone to a hit man-for-hire site and paid about $5,000 worth of bitcoin for Alexis to be assassinated, giving chilling details.
Alexis Stern: Where I lived, where I worked, my picture of me, a description of me, everything.
FBI and Homeland security agents soon got involved. Although many dark web sites are scams, Alexis knew someone out there wanted her dead.
Alexis Stern: And that terrified me.
Authorities promised to investigate.
The aspiring horror book author had read about the dark web – a hidden online marketplace, where criminality ranging from human trafficking to illegal weapons is advertised for sale — even murder.
Alexis Stern: The more you start to dig, the darker it starts to get.
It was in 2017 that “48 Hours” first investigated dark web murder for hire. The next year, we exposed about 20 active murder plots.
NEWS REPORT: “Police received a tip from the CBS News program ’48 Hours’ …”
“48 Hours” alerted law enforcement, leading to arrests in two states and two foreign countries. Our investigation also led us to the mysterious figure known as Yura, who has been operating hit man sites for about 5 years. We don’t know his real name or location, but he sent us video diaries:
YURA [VIDEO STATEMENT]: I am doing this video diary entry to give you official statements.
Lisa | CBS News consultant: Looking for criminals on the dark web … is not for the faint of heart.
For most of her career, this woman his lived in the shadows.
Lisa: I was a member of the intelligence community.
Now, she’s a CBS News consultant who we hired to help us look for Yura.
Lisa: What makes it challenging is this isn’t your traditional law enforcement investigation where … there’s DNA and there’s fingerprints … and a weapon and a crime scene.
“Lisa,” as we’ll call her, has altered her appearance for this interview.
Lisa: In the world of the dark web, DNA is … email addresses, usernames, passwords.
Lisa analyzed Yura’s writings.
Lisa: His English is very good.
But she says the evidence suggests he is foreign born and doesn’t work alone.
Lisa: There is definitely some support.
She says the murder-for-hire sites are all about making big money, and that she found millions of dollars of profits in an online account she believes is linked to Yura.
Lisa: Upwards of, I think, $5 million.
Apparently, about $5,000 of those profits was allegedly paid to kill Alexis Stern. When her parents found out, they weren’t taking any chances.
Peter Van Sant: You left Minnesota.
Alexis Stern: Yes. … We just started driving. … It was scary.
But who would want her dead? Alexis thought she knew. Back in 2016, she was a high school sophomore and like many her age, struggling with her self-esteem. She was just 15 when a friend introduced her to an older man online.
Alexis Stern: I ended up meeting a guy named Adrian.
Peter Van Sant: Adrian Fry?
Alexis Stern: Yes, Adrian Fry.
She was intrigued to learn that Adrian Fry lived in England.
Alexis Stern: I was always partial to British accents, so I thought it was kind of a bonus.
Adrian was 20. He said he was training to be an accountant and liked to stream video games online. His screen name: Rocketwind.
Alexis Stern: I wanted to have a boyfriend … and it was a perfect opportunity.
In August of 2016, Fry flew to Minnesota and got a hotel room near her house.
Peter Van Sant [referencing a photo]: This is Adrian right here?
Alexis Stern: Yes.
Peter Van Sant: Do your parents have any idea this is going on?
Alexis Stern: No, they had no idea.
The two began a relationship. Alexis had just turned 16.
Alexis Stern: He was already pretty much talking about getting married, honestly. He — he was 100% set on being with me.
Adrian Fry visited Alexis twice more: in the summer of 2017 and the spring of 2018.
She says her feelings were changing.
Alexis Stern: He really started trying to control my normal everyday life.
They had considered themselves a couple for about two years when Alexis told Fry it was over.
Alexis Stern: He freaked out. He did not like that at all. … It was a lot of pleading, a lot of begging.
A few months later, when she told him she had a new boyfriend, she says he became angry.
Alexis Stern: Pretty much saying … “you deserve everything horrible that happens to you.”
Peter Van Sant: Do you sense … that he’s basically sending you a message?
Alexis Stern A hundred percent.
Peter Van Sant: And what is that message?
Alexis Stern: That — it’s not going to end great for me.
THE KILL ORDER
Alexis Stern: Someone could sneak into the house and kill me. … I could be killed on my way home from school.
“48 Hours” asked Alexis Stern to read the disturbing emails between the person who wanted her dead, code named Mastermind365, and Yura, the alleged murder-for-hire kingpin on the dark web.
Alexis Stern [reading]: “I can see on your web site that the services you offer are murder, assault and arson … A kidnapping is the job that i had in mind.”
Mastermind365 sent a picture of Alexis to Yura. Then, for some reason, about a week later he upgraded his order from kidnapping to “I would just like this person dead.”
Alexis Stern [reading]: “I would just like this person to be shot and killed.”
It was another cold and clinical Minnesota hit order that triggered “48 Hours”‘ original dark web murder for hire investigation. In 2016, a 43-year-old dog trainer named Amy Allwine was killed in nearby Cottage Grove. Police questioned her husband Stephen:
STEPHEN ALLWINE [police interview]: We’re a normal family. There’s nothing — nothing unique, nothing strange.
Like Mastermind365, Stephen Allwine had paid Yura thousands of dollars to arrange a hit. When it didn’t happen, Allwine took matters into his own hands and shot his wife in the head. In 2018, he was convicted of murder.
Peter Van Sant: Do you have any doubt in your mind who put out the contract on your life?
Alexis Stern: I have no doubt in my mind … that it is Adrian Fry.
Adrian Fry — her ex-boyfriend from England. When Alexis saw the kill order dated July 15, 2018, she says the timing suddenly made sense to her.
Peter Van Sant: What had happened the day before, July 14?
Alexis Stern: That is when I told Adrian that I was dating someone else.
And it wasn’t just the timing of the hit order. She says it was the language, too.
Alexis Stern: It sounds … very British. … “I would just like this person dead but if there’s any more information you would like, inbox me.” … I don’t know anyone in America that uses the term “inbox me.” Adrian, on the other hand, often would say that.
Alexis noticed that Mastermind365 sometimes referred to himself with a lowercase “i” and said when Fry wrote her, he did the same thing. She also saw that Mastermind365 wrote “thankyou” as one word. In Fry’s messages to her, he’s done that, too. It’s a quirk that would become more significant later in our investigation. And there was more.
Alexis Stern [reading]: Mastermind365 to Yura: “My problem is that I don’t currently have an extra five grand but I will have it in about a weeks time.” This part is from Adrian to me: “If there is a chance you may like me in years time then I will happily wait.“
The phrases “week’s time” and “year’s time” are common in British English. In writing them, both Mastermind365 and Arian Fry had left off an apostrophe
Peter Van Sant: So, there’s a couple of phrases … that matches Adrian’s patterns?
Alexis Stern: Yes.
She also realized Mastermind365 seemed to have grown impatient with Yura over time, and that’s when she saw one particular message that sent a shiver up her spine:
ALEXIS STERN [reading message on her video diary]: “Do you guys sell guns? I need a pistol with a silencer.”
Peter Van Sant: He’s asked Yura to help him get a gun with a silencer.
Alexis Stern [affirms]: Mm hmm.
Peter Van Sant: What does that tell you?
Alexis Stern: It sounds like he is willing to take matters into his own hands if it doesn’t get it done.
Just like Stephen Allwine. And that’s what worries our dark web expert, Lisa. She believes Yura’s websites are a scam and that frustrated clients may be moved to violence.
Lisa: The fact that he’s a scammer as opposed to an actual hit man-for-hire provider, does not remove the fact that he is a threat or is a criminal.
Alexis Stern: There are people out there who believe it is a real hit man web site.
Alexis Stern says, after more than a year with little apparent progress on her case, she became frustrated and agreed to try her luck with us.
Alexis Stern: I decided I might as well take a chance and see what “48 Hours” can help me with.
She is determined to see justice catch up to the man she says ordered her murder and the person who promised to arrange it.
Peter Van Sant [driving with Lisa]: Lisa, we have always thought in our investigation that Yura must live overseas … are we right?
Lisa: No Peter… Yura might live right here in New York City.
A NEW LEAD
He’s still out there somewhere, the cyber ghost, Yura. Still uncatchable in a hidden world. Still a confounding mystery.
YURA [VIDEO STATEMENT]: A hit man marketplace is like any other auction site. It brings customers and vendors together.
It’s probably no surprise that “48 Hours”‘ global manhunt for Yura began on a computer. In 2018, we wrote to him on his website asking for an interview. Much to our surprise, he agreed to sit down with us on camera in London.
We were already there to interview a self-styled cybercrime researcher named Chris Monteiro, who’d been monitoring Yura and his hitman sites for more than three years.
Chris Monteiro: And the sort of people attracted to the website are very — very nasty individuals.
Peter Van Sant [on camera]: So, we’ve flown from New York to London, rented [a] studio … and we even brought in a master of disguise who’s going to camouflage Yura’s face. Now all we need is him.
The elusive Yura never showed up, claiming we could have been followed by police. But he did start sending us those video statements.
YURA [VIDEO STATEMENT]: We will be waiting for you to come place your orders and get rid of your problems.
Yura, who seems to enjoy taunting “48 Hours,” sent us this email in June 2009:
YURA [EMAIL]: Unfortunattely [sic] after your show the business has decreased tremenduosly [sic]… people concluded that the site is a scam
Yura even claimed – he’s going legit – moving away from the murder-for-hire sites into the real world.
YURA [EMAIL]: I opened a restaurant business … and I live nice.
Lisa, our dark web expert, doubts Yura has left his criminal past behind.
Lisa: He’s still very much in business.
Peter Van Sant: He’s still working?
And as the cases of Amy Allwine and Alexis Stern show, even if Yura’s hit man sites are scams, the customers paying him to have people killed are horrifyingly real.
Peter Van Sant: A lot of people want other people killed.
Peter Van Sant: All across the United States?
Lisa: And the world, yes.
Lisa is determined to unmask Yura.
Lisa: Everyone can be found. Yura can be found.
And she quickly spotted her first clue – a massive trail of hacked digital data. Digging through that treasure trove, Lisa believes she’s unearthed a few gold nuggets – including Yura’s likely password from one of his early murder-for-hire sites.
Lisa: In this case, we’ve got this very unique password of Frunza22.
Peter Van Sant: Frunza22.
Peter Van Sant: So, this sounds like a lead.
Lisa: From a digital forensics perspective, this is a huge lead.
Lisa immediately launched a worldwide search across the dark web and the regular Internet for that password possibly linked to Yura. In a matter of hours, she zeroed in on two hits from different sides of the planet.
Lisa: Just on a Google search … frunza22 … actually led us to Moldova of all places.
The Republic of Moldova – a former Soviet state in Eastern Europe. There’s a village there called Frunza. It’s also a common last name.
Lisa: frunza22 … gave us all this intelligence with which to work with and narrow down who Yura possibly could be.
Lisa discovered that the online seller of a car in Moldova had also used frunza22. Could there be a link?
Lisa: The license plate for this car obviously gives us more information.
Peter Van Sant: Do you have an answer yet as to who owns this vehicle?
Lisa: Unfortunately, we do not.
Lisa: We’re coordinating with people on the ground in Moldova to see who this car is actually registered to.
But the most compelling clue, Lisa says, connects Yura’s possible password to a standard email address in the United States.
Lisa: I was able to identify that with a very high probability … with an older Russian woman in … New York.
Lisa thinks the woman could be Yura’s relative. The cyber search for Yura and his anonymous dark web connections will involve a tedious, time-consuming process of following digital breadcrumbs:
Lisa: One piece of evidence stands on its own and you look at it as a breadcrumb and you try to chase that for a bit. … And then you find another breadcrumb. … And collectively, when you start to add all of these things up, you have … a higher confidence assessment.
YURA [VIDEO STATEMENT]: I keep my identity private … everything that could help with recognition.
As our global hunt for Yura intensifies, we’re reminded that his borderless reach from the bottom of the Internet has left shattered lives in his wake: Amy Allwine murdered and others, marked for death, living in perpetual fear.
Chris Monteiro: There are people around the world in danger. And I had to do something about it.
What Chris Monteiro did was secretly hack into Yura’s websites, dredging up disturbing emails from clients ordering grisly hits, and later passing them on to “48 Hours.” We immediately informed law enforcement. Three cases we investigated in 2018 — in Illinois, Tennessee and California – have led to explosive conclusions.
Woodridge, Illinois: Tina Jones, a registered nurse, got involved with a married colleague. When he ended the affair, she allegedly paid Yura about $12,000 to kill the man’s wife.
Peter Van Sant: This was a nurse, someone who saves lives.
Sgt. Daniel Murray: Truth really is stranger than fiction.
In newly released video, Woodridge Police Sgt. Daniel Murray, acting on the “48 Hours” tip, brought a chillingly calm Tina Jones in for questioning:
SGT. DANIEL MURRAY: So, I’m just going to ask you right now, did you make any threat, or did you try to have somebody do something on your behalf to Jeff’s wife?
TINA JONES: No.
SGT. DANIEL MURRAY: OK, you sure about that?
TINA JONES: Yeah.
Peter Van Sant [watching Jones’ interrogation video with Sgt. Murray]: You buying it?
Sgt. Daniel Murray: No.
Peter Van Sant: Why not?
Sgt. Daniel Murray: She just doesn’t come off as believable…
TINA JONES: I really don’t know …
Moments later, the truth:
SGT. DANIEL MURRAY: But you gotta tell me now.
TINA JONES: [Pauses] I did.
SGT. DANIEL MURRAY: You did?
TINA JONES: Yeah.
NEWS REPORT: Tina Jones just pleaded guilty to attempted, first-degree murder…
In August 2009, Tina Jones learned her fate. She will spend the next 10 years in prison.
“48 Hours” also tipped off detective Michael Ulrey in Clarksville, Tennessee, who broke the news to then 22-year-old Sydney Minor, a single mom.
DET. MICHAEL ULREY [to Sydney]: Someone went on the dark web. … There is a murder-for-hire website. … And someone has paid to have you murdered.
SYDNEY MINOR: What???
Sydney, who was pregnant with her second child, quickly identified the father of her unborn baby as a suspect: Brandon States. Sydney says, he had pressured her to get an abortion.
SYDNEY MINOR [to Det. Ulrey]: He’s married. Didn’t know it at the time.
Det. Michael Ulrey: The only person in our mind was Brandon States.
Peter Van Sant: Because?
Det. Michael Ulrey: Because it was his child. And she refused to get rid of the child.
Brandon States eventually pleaded guilty to attempted premeditated murder. In March 2019, the Army specialist was sentenced by a military court to 15 years in Fort Leavenworth.
By his final court hearing, Sydney had given birth to a little girl named Saylor. Branden States asked to meet his daughter before going to prison. Sydney reluctantly agreed, and she handed the little girl to the man who had paid money to kill them both.
Peter Van Sant: Give me a sense of what was going through your mind at that moment.
Sydney Minor: Fear. A lot of fear.
Sydney Minor: She had to meet him in a courtroom with police officers and armed guards.
Sydney Minor: I told him, “I’ll never forgive you for what you’ve done.”
Around the same time in San Luis Obispo, California, Beau Brigham awaits trial.
A THREAD IN YURA’S WEB
In late 2019, Beau Brigham, a onetime YouTube star, went on trial for solicitation of murder after “48 Hours” tipped authorities to his case.
In 2018, Brigham allegedly had paid Yura to arrange the assassination of his stepmother. During questioning by detectives, he seemed to acknowledge ordering the hit:
BEAU BRIGHAM : I remember going on some f—- stupid site … and then I was in a rage just sending a bunch of stuff.
Ilan Funke Bilu: I do not deny he went to the site … I absolutely deny that he had any intention whatsoever of hurting his stepmother.
Defense attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu says Brigham wasn’t serious. Evidence shows Brigham paid less than $3 in bitcoin towards the $5,000 hit.
Ilan Funke-Bilu: If there was true intent, it wouldn’t stop at $2.95.
After nearly three weeks of testimony, it takes the jury seven hours to find Brigham guilty of solicitation of murder. And a month later, he was sentenced to three years in state prison.
But with credit for time served, he was released in January 2020.
Alexis Stern is frustrated that in her case there hasn’t even been an arrest. “48 Hours” tracked her ex-boyfriend Adrian Fry to a house in the city of Bath, England, and we’re watching the place. So far, he hasn’t emerged.
YURA [VIDEO STATEMENT]: The hit man marketplace is like any other auction site.
The man who took the kill order Adrian allegedly made is still at large, too. But Lisa says finding Yura may partly depend on exposing and flipping the people who work with him.
Lisa: Everyone has a network, right?
“48 Hours” uncovered information about an important thread in Yura’s web — a thread stretching all the way to the sprawling city of Kolkata, India, and a computer contractor named Santosh Sharma.
Lisa: Yura contracted Santosh Sharma to assist him with digital marketing and promotion.
Yura had become so brazen, he actually was promoting his dark web sites on the regular internet by hiring a marketing specialist. Arshad Zargar, our CBS News producer in India, spent weeks looking for Sharma.
Arshad Zargar: We managed to track down both his addresses.
“48 Hours” tipped authorities who summoned Sharma to the police station. After they questioned him, Sharma agreed to an interview with us. We asked him about the sites he created on the regular internet to advertise Yura’s sites on the dark web.
Arshad Zargar: What are the websites that you created for him?
Santosh Sharma: I have created murder-for-hire.com, besa-mafia.com, hire-a-hitman.com.
He insisted he was just an everyday internet marketer hired on a freelance job.
Arshad Zargar: Have you ever spoken to him?
Santosh Sharma: No. I just chat with him. Chat and email. I have asked for his phone number … but he didn’t send me it.
He said they’re not in touch at all anymore and that he doesn’t know Yura’s real name or location, but wishes he did because Yura scammed him, too.
Arshad Zargar: Yura still owes him about $400 and he has been trying to get in touch with him asking for the money.
Sharma was released without charges, but hacker Chris Monteiro says Yura’s operations took a body blow.
Chris Monteiro: The work of “48 Hours” investigating Santosh Sharma in India … that was very important in shutting down his advertising operations.
Lisa wants to see Yura shut down completely and she believes she’s getting close to finding him.
Lisa [riding in car with Van Sant]: It will be right up here, right on the right. … I’m going to drop my head down. … My heart is racing…
And we’re closing in on Adrian Fry too, who lives in this house west of London.
A DRAMATIC ENCOUNTER
“48 Hours” staked out Adrian fry’s house in England – the young man Alexis believes ordered her murder and asked Yura about obtaining a gun. For days, it seemed like nobody was home. Then one night in early February 2020:
Peter Van Sant [on camera in car holding up phone:]: Take a look at this … a car has just pulled up in front of the house so we’re going to head over now and knock on the door and see if we can speak face to face with Adrian Fry.
Peter Van Sant [ at front door]: Hey good evening. How are you? My name is Peter Van Sant. I was wondering if Adrian’s here?
Fry’s brother answered the door, saying Adrian was visiting friends. He gave us the name of a nearby town and we went to check it out — but couldn’t find him.
Peter Van Sant: Would you ever meet with Adrian Fry again?
Alexis Stern: Not unless he is behind bars.
But that now seems unlikely. In November 2019, Alexis Stern received a letter from the FBI, saying the case was being closed because, “the United States Attorney’s Office [USAO] has declined to prosecute.” But authorities never explained why the case was dropped, and refused to tell “48 Hours” what, if anything, they had ever done to investigate Adrian Fry or Yura.
YURA [VIDEO STATEMENT]: To all law enforcement, just try and close our site if you can…
In our own two-year global search for Yura, we’d been stood up in the U.K., found Yura’s marketing guru in India — but not Yura himself — and hit a dead end with that car ad in Moldova, where we had hired a local researcher to track down the owner.
Lisa now believes it’s just a coincidence that frunza22 appeared in the car ad.
Lisa: There’s … no direct correlation.
In January 2020, “48 Hours” followed Lisa’s lead to a woman in New York City who Lisa now believes is Yura’s mother-in-law.
Peter Van Sant: We’ve just left Manhattan. Where are we heading?
Lisa: Queens. Maybe we’ll find Yura.
Peter Van Sant: Hope so.
It took three months of digging through digital clues for Lisa to uncover what she calls “strong evidence” against the man she now believes is Yura. It includes a link to that unusual password: frunza22. And “48 Hours” discovered an email address that included “gun” and “killa” connected to the man Lisa found in New York City.
Lisa: It was enough to make me pause when I saw that email address.
Lisa believes the man had moved to the U.S. from overseas in the 1990s and now owns a large repair business, registered some kind of tech company, and most recently bought a restaurant.
Lisa [pointing to screen]: I have high confidence that this man is very likely Yura.
Peter Van Sant: What’s that confidence level if you put it in a percentage?
Lisa: 75% to 80%, which is — in intelligence terms — quite high.
Lisa says there’s no such thing as 100% certainty on the secretive dark web. That’s why we decided not to name the man or show his face.
Peter Van Sant [in car] We’re in position where we can take a look down the sidewalk and see if he approaches.
We spotted him on a public sidewalk:
PETER VAN SANT [exiting car, to photographer]: That’s him. Up the block. Go!
PETER VAN SANT [to man]: I’m Peter Van Sant with CBS News, and we have some questions we’d like to get answered if we may. … Our investigation of murder-for-hire on the dark web has led us here and I want to ask you, are you Yura?
PETER VAN SANT: Yura.
MAN: I don’t know what you’re talking about. My name is —
PETER VAN SANT: Yura is a person who has run various murder-for-hire sites on the dark web.
MAN: What are you talking about?
Van Sant then asked the man about frunza22 – that potentially incriminating password:
PETER VAN SANT: How do you explain that on the Besa Mafia website, the administrator uses a password — frunza22 …
Lisa says to pay special attention to the man’s reaction after Van Sant mentioned the password.
Lisa: The minute you hit him with the evidence that is the key piece of evidence in this case…
Peter Van Sant: The password.
Lisa: The password. He immediately then shuts down.
He then did something we’d never seen before:
MAN: Before we start anything, I wanna make sure the whole world knows what’s going on.
He started streaming our conversation live on Facebook, where he began speaking more to his followers than to Van Sant:
MAN: What’s up guys? Something is going on. I’ve got some guys over here …
Lisa: This in and of itself is taking control of the communication. … He wants his words and his voice to be heard — and not yours.
PETER VAN SANT: You can answer my question.
MAN: There’s no Yura’s here.
We also tried to ask the man about another striking similarity between him and Yura in the real world:
PETER VAN SANT: Yura wrote us and said that he’d recently taken his money and opened a new restaurant, which you’ve done that.
MAN: And what restaurant you talking about again?
A restaurant not far from where we met him. He opened the place in 2018. Just six months later, Yura wrote “48 Hours” that he had done the same.
MAN: Stop recording right now!
MAN: I’m gonna smack the s—t out of your camera, I’m telling ya.
As his anger grew, the man suddenly made us an offer, no cameras allowed:
MAN: I have no idea who Yura is. You want to talk to me privately, let’s go to the office — me and you sit down without this [points to the camera].
Van Sant turned him down because, he says, the situation was starting to feel dangerous.
PETER VAN SANT: Oh, hey guys.
MAN: Who the hell you think you are?
PETER VAN SANT: I’m a reporter. Investigative reporter that’s been following this for over a year.
PETER VAN SANT: Hey c’mon, now don’t do that.
PETER VAN SANT: That was just on video. That could be an assault.
MAN: Assault? You’re assaulting me right now.
The man’s friend calls police: “Yes, we need the police to be here …”
CBS NEWS PHOTOGRAPHER: Sir, you hit me. I just need my equipment back.
MAN: I didn’t hit you. I hit your camera and you did with your own hands.
CBS NEWS PHOTOGRAPHER: I just need my equipment back.
We quickly left the scene and the man, still angry, continued to stream live
MAN: They chickened out, run away.
MAN: Stupid website. Some freak created something — used my identity!
Lisa [watching the confrontation on a monitor with Van Sant]: “Someone’s using my identity.” … He’s confirming that the information we’ve presented to him is legit.
Lisa: Based on all the evidence that has been accumulated… my confidence is still quite high.
In fact, she says, having seen the video, it’s even higher.
Lisa: Around 85 to 90%.
Over the next two weeks, “48 Hours” reached out to the man four times, requesting an on-camera interview at CBS News.
Peter Van Sant [on phone]: Do give a call back and let us know your decision.
We were eager to hear any explanation for the apparent links between him and Yura. He apologized for his actions, but never sat down on camera. Neither did Adrian Fry, though he did text us:
Peter Van Sant [reading text]: Hi Peter. I can assure you that I did not go to the online web to hire a hit man or anyone to kill Alexis.
But it was his last text declining our interview request that startled us: “Thankyou for the opportunity,” he wrote. We realized, that just like Mastermind365, Fry had once again written “thank you” as one word.
“48 Hours” has alerted the NYPD to the new developments in our dark web investigation.