Ohio will seek death penalty for alleged Craigslist killer

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 06, 2011 2:33 PM

By Kim Palmer

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - Ohio prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty for a man suspected of killing three people after they responded to a phony online job ad.

Summit County prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said Monday that her office will be prosecuting Richard J. Beasley, 52, for the murders of three men and the attempted murder of a fourth in the so-called Craigslist case.

Family members Tuesday held a memorial service in Akron, Ohio for one of the three men, Timothy Kern, 47, who was found buried in a shallow grave behind an Akron mall.

Beasley is in custody on non-related drug and prostitution charges. The other alleged suspect in the crimes, 16-year old Brogan Rafferty, has been charged with attempted murder and murder in Noble County.

April Wiesner, spokeswoman for the Summit County prosecutor's office, would not confirm Tuesday whether Rafferty will be prosecuted by their office in Akron, Ohio or if he will be tried as an adult.

"We are still reviewing some issues and gathering evidence with regards to the juvenile's case, so it's too early to discuss his situation," Wiesner said.

The bodies of two of the men, Pauley, 51, of Norfolk, Virginia and Ralph Geiger, 55, of Atlanta, who along with Kern were believed to have answered a phony Craigslist ad promising a job as a caretaker of a ranch in rural Ohio, were found in Noble County.

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Another man, Scott Davis, 48, who answered the same ad, was shot in Noble County but escaped after running from two men he had met earlier for breakfast.

Authorities have said the victims were killed in October and November and the Craigslist ad was posted on October 7.

The Noble County coroner's office Tuesday released a death certificate for Geiger that said he had died August 9, 2011. Prosecutors were not immediately available for comment on the death date. Geiger's body was discovered November 25.

(Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Jerry Norton)