The mother of a jailed Ohio man said Saturday her son has "a very caring heart" and was a mentor to a teenager charged in a deadly robbery scheme in which police say victims were lured with bogus help-wanted ads on Craigslist.
Carol Beasley told The Associated Press that she spoke to her son Richard and she prays that a newspaper report that he is a suspect is not true.
"The most I can say is this is just a big shock to us," she said in a telephone interview. "I pray it's some other person and not him."
Richard Beasley, 52, was in jail on unrelated charges when police arrested two suspects in the robbery scheme, including a 16-year-old boy Beasley's mother says he befriended. The teenager was charged Friday with attempted murder. A judge issued a gag order in the case, and the names of the two victims and the adult suspect, who so far has not been charged, were not released.
Authorities say a South Carolina man who responded to a bogus ad for a farmhand in Ohio was taken Nov. 6 to a desolate area and shot in the arm. He escaped and sought help at a farmhouse in Caldwell. The Columbus Dispatch identified the man as Scott W. Davis, 48, citing a Noble County Sheriff's Office incident report. Davis reportedly lived with his mother in Canton.
Last week, authorities found one hand-dug grave they believe was intended for the man who escaped and a second grave that held the body of a Florida man. The newspaper reported that paperwork in the case against the teenager says he was assisting a Richard J. Beasley in attempting to murder the man who survived.
Carol Beasley, 70, acknowledged that her son has a history of trouble with the law, but she was at a loss to explain where things went wrong. She said her son took the teenager to church almost weekly, took him fishing and to the movies or to play video games, and the two also did volunteer work delivering food to needy people.
"He worked as a street chaplain, did a lot of things like that, that's why all of this is difficult, you know?" the mother said. "I don't know, maybe sometimes when you work with street people, maybe you are just too close to the edge. It's all kind of confusing to me."
Richard Beasley faced previous charges in Ohio, including aggravated menacing, tampering with evidence, possession of criminal tools and illegal cultivation of marijuana, court records show. He also was convicted in Texas of burglary and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle in 1985, sentenced to a 40-year prison sentence and placed on parole for 34 years in 1989.
Beasley was in the Summit County jail Friday on drug trafficking, compelling prostitution and fugitive-from-justice charges when police made arrests in the robbery scheme. The Associated Press generally does not report the names of minors charged with crimes. A message left with an attorney for Beasley listed on court documents was not returned.
Associated Press writers JoAnne Viviano and Doug Whiteman contributed to this report.