Ohio teen convicted of murder in Craigslist jobs hoax

'Student of violence' helped lure men desperate for work to farm before they were shot dead

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 November, 2012, 4:36am

An Ohio teenager has been found guilty of aggravated murder for his role in a deadly plot to lure men desperate for work with phoney Craigslist job offers.

Prosecutors in the weeks-long trial painted Brogan Rafferty, 17, as a quick student of violence and willing participant in three killings, while the defence argued he was acting under the duress of his alleged accomplice, a self-styled chaplain depicted as a mentor.

Rafferty helped Richard Beasley lure four victims at separate times with bogus Craigslist job offers to a non-existent cattle farm with the aim of robbery. Beasley shot and killed three of the men; the fourth victim was shot in the arm and survived.

Rafferty stood with his hands clasped behind his back and showed no emotion as the verdicts were read. His mother leaned over and cried softly.

Jack Kern, the father of victim Timothy, Kern flashed a thumbs-up after the verdicts were read. He broke down in tears when he left the courtroom.

Jury forewoman Dana Nash said it was a difficult decision because of Rafferty's age, calling him "a child".

"We were trying to be fair, and we were fair," Nash said. "We listened to everything. We feel we made the right decision."

Rafferty testified he went along with the plan only because he feared for his life. Rafferty was tried as an adult but faces a maximum potential sentence of life in prison. His sentencing is set for November 5.

Beasley, 53, has pleaded not guilty and could face death if convicted.

The man who survived, Scott Davis, 49, of South Carolina, identified Rafferty as Beasley's accomplice and told a harrowing story. Davis told a hushed courtroom he moved to the Canton area after selling his South Carolina business to be closer to his family, and responded to a Craigslist ad to work as a farmhand.

He met Rafferty and a man who called himself "Jack" for breakfast before driving to an isolated Noble county farm. Prosecutors say "Jack" was actually Beasley, and that he urged Davis into a wooded area to look for farm equipment.

Davis said he heard a gun cock and turned around to find himself face to face with a handgun. He said he pushed the weapon aside, was shot in the arm and fled as "Jack" fired at him.

Davis ran then hid until dark, before finding a farmhouse and calling police.

During Rafferty's trial, defence lawyer John Alexander painted Beasley as the mastermind and said the first killing came without warning for Rafferty, who "had no idea any of this was going on".

After the first killing, Alexander said Beasley had warned Rafferty to keep quiet and co-operate by reminding him that he knew where his mother and sister lived. But prosecutor Emily Pelphrey said Rafferty chose to participate in the killings, saying he was a "student of violent crime".