Southern Ohio authorities believe an ex-con who worked as a chaplain and ran a halfway house is behind a chilling plot using Craigslist to tempt unemployed men with a $300/week job watching a farm but killing them instead. Authorities learned of the scheme when police found one man shot in the arm and later found shallow graves. Brogan Rafferty, 16, has been been charged with the killings, but it's suspected his "mentor," Richard Beasley, orchestrated the crimes.
The victims were apparently attracted by the ad, which promised $300/week to live in a two-bedroom trailer to "watch over a 688 acre patch of hilly farmland and feed a few cows"—plus unlimited fishing. One victim, Timothy Kern, 47, wrote on his Facebook page, "Just got one of the strangest job offer. A good offer but strange. The job is to watch over 680 acres south of cambridge. Odd jobs and such but mainly just secure it. Trailer, utilities, salary. Drawbacks? No cell phone service, kids are up here, and i have to move this sunday. Life can be such a bitch sometimes."
Kern's body was found last week, as police have been investigating since mid-November when a man told them about meeting two men about a job advertised on Craiglist. He was taken to a field and then heard a gun being cocked: "As he turned, he saw the gun pointed to his head. He managed to deflect the weapon and run. As he ran, he was shot in the arm. More shots followed. For the next seven hours, the man hid until he was able to reach a home and call for help."
Police found Rafferty and Beasley via computer forensics, with help from the surviving. Beasley is described as a "career criminal who called himself a chaplain and ran a Christian-based halfway house in Akron until last year" by the Akron Beacon Journal. His friends and family say he had been mentoring Rafferty after his last 15-year stint in prison: "They were, especially at church, inseparable. No one saw them as killers," with Beasley's mother offering, "He was trying to mentor Brogan for years. I just hope to God this is all false."
Beasley is being held on $1 million bail, on charges of promoting prostitution and for selling OxyContin, and he may also be charged with kidnapping and wire fraud related to the Craigslist case. Beasley denies he was involved with the killings,