Richard Beasley, convicted in Craigslist Killings in OH
AKRON - A street preacher accused of enticing three men with Craigslist job offers only to kill them was found guilty Tuesday of aggravated murder.
Prosecutors here said Richard Beasley, 53, used the phony ads to lure his victims to a remote farm in Noble County, Ohio, about 60 miles east of Columbus.
Two men from Ohio: Ralph Geiger, 56, of Akron and Timothy Kern, 47, of Massillon and David Pauley, 51, Norfolk, VA., died.
A man from South Carolina was shot but survived. He testified about running for his life and hiding in the woods, scared he would bleed to death.
Beasley could face the death penalty when he is sentenced at a later date.
Family members of victims hugged and wiped away tears as the verdicts were read. He was found guilty of 27 counts of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, kidnapping and having illegal weapons.
Beasley slumped in his wheelchair, which he uses because of back problems.
Prosecutors labeled Beasley as the triggerman in the 2011 plot with a high school student he mentored. The 16-year-old student, Brogan Rafferty of Stow, Ohio, was convicted and sentenced late last year to life in prison without the chance of parole. He was tried as an adult but considered too young for the death penalty because he was a juvenile when the crimes occurred.
The two used the job postings as bait in a robbery plot aimed at down-on-their-luck victims with few family ties so their disappearances were more likely to go undetected.
"He was the mastermind behind this plot," Prosecutor Jonathan Baumoel said during the trial.
The survivor, Scott Davis, testified that he heard the click of a gun as he walked in front of Beasley at the reputed job site. Davis, who was shot in an arm, knocked the weapon aside.
"I spun around," said Davis, who told a harrowing story of running through the woods and hiding for seven hours. "I was worried about bleeding to death."
Prosecutors said it was a miracle that Davis, also the star witness at Rafferty's trial, survived the encounter with Beasley.
"Only by the grace of God did he escape with his life," Baumoel told the jury.
Davis' escape on Nov. 6, 2011, led authorities to find Pauley's body in the same area where Davis was shot. Geiger's body also was found later.
Beasley's lawyers had said that investigators targeted him based only on a hunch and that the identity theft and robbery motives prosecutors offered were baseless.
Rafferty, now 18, had said the crimes were horrible but he didn't see any chance to stop the killings. He said he feared Beasley would kill him and his relatives if he tipped off police.