Teen pleads not guilty in Ohio Craigslist killings
AKRON, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio teen who came under the influence of a convicted criminal turned self-styled street chaplain pleaded not guilty Friday to helping his mentor kill one man and try to kill another in a deadly Craigslist robbery scheme.
Brogan Rafferty, his ankles and wrists cuffed and dressed in a white T-shirt and orange jail pants, made a brief appearance Friday in Summit County Common Pleas Court. His plea came after he was transferred to the adult system from juvenile court because of the seriousness of the charges against him.
Authorities say applicants who fell for the scheme answered a Craigslist ad for a job at a nonexistent cattle ranch in Noble County, 90 miles south of Akron in rural southeastern Ohio, were robbed, then killed.
The teen was questioned by the FBI and arrested in mid-November several days after Scott Davis, of South Carolina, said was shot in the arm and escaped after he answered the ad.
The body of Norfolk, Va., resident David Pauley, 51, was found on the Noble County property, owned by a coal company and often leased to hunters. Authorities say Pauley was killed Oct. 23.
Timothy Kern, 47, of Massillon, was found Nov. 29 in a shallow grave near an Akron-area shopping mall. He had been shot in the head.
The complaint against the teen says he participated in the crimes with Richard Beasley, a 52-year-old Akron resident said to have acted as his mentor.
Beasley was a Texas parolee who returned to Ohio in 2004 after serving time on a burglary conviction. He was awaiting trial on prostitution and drug charges when authorities took him into custody, and police have said a halfway house he ran in Akron was a front for prostitution.
Beasley has pleaded not guilty to the slayings and could face the death penalty if convicted. As a juvenile, Rafferty cannot.
Rafferty's attorney, John Alexander, said after the arraignment that his client is holding up well.
"He's doing as well as you can, obviously, with serious charges like this," he said. "You're going to have a whole wide range of emotions, so he's holding up as best as he can."
Alexander said he would ask to have Rafferty held in juvenile detention, instead of adult jail, for the duration of the case.
Rafferty was a student at Stow-Munroe Falls High School in suburban Akron when he was arrested in the fall.
The victims had answered Craigslist ads for work on a nonexistent cattle farm in rural Noble County in southeast Ohio. The scheme targeted older, single, out-of-work men with backgrounds that made it unlikely their disappearances would be noted right away.
In a four-page handwritten letter to the Akron Beacon Journal, Beasley has said he has been miscast as a con man when he really helped feed, house and counsel scores of needy families, alcoholics, drug addicts, the mentally ill and crime suspects for years.