Teen suspect in craigslist plot charged with aggravated murder, more

Rafferty feels 'sorry' for victims' families

CALDWELL, Ohio - A Summit County teen charged with aggravated murder in a scheme authorities say lured Craigslist job-seekers into lethal robberies is not a monster, but a "scared little boy," his mother says.

The 16-year-old high school student from Akron was questioned by the FBI and arrested Nov. 16 after a South Carolina man said he answered the ad seeking a farm hand, was shot in the arm and escaped from the woods of southeastern Ohio.

The teen currently faces juvenile court charges of attempted murder, complicity to attempted murder, aggravated murder and complicity to aggravated murder.

The complaint against the teen alleges that he participated in the Oct. 23 slaying of David Pauley and the Nov. 6 attempted murder of Scott Davis. The complaint says the boy participated in the alleged crimes with Richard Beasley, 52, a man said to have acted as a mentor to the teen. Beasley remains jailed on unrelated prostitution charges.

A judge in Noble County, 90 miles south of Akron, was expected to decide Tuesday afternoon whether the boy would be tried as an adult. But Noble County Common Pleas Court Judge John Nau granted a continuance in the probable cause hearing. At issue, is whether the 16-year-old should be charged as an adult. Noble County prosecutors added two new counts, aggravated murder and complicity to aggravated murder related to David Pauley, to a pair of previous charges, attempted murder and complicity to commit murder in the case of Scott Davis. Davis was wounded in the elbow and escaped.

A swarm of media was in pursuit of Rafferty as he was escorted out of the courtroom. When reporters asked him if he was involved in the murder plot, Rafferty repeatedly answered "no comment." When reporters asked, "What do you have to say to those families, anything?" Rafferty replied, "sorry."

It's likely the probable cause hearing will take place next week. Rafferty's mother, Yvette, was in the courtroom Tuesday, whispering encouragement to her son as she sat behind him. Rafferty was returned to the Muskingham County Juvenile Detention Center.

Noble County Prosecutor Clifford Sickler planned to argue that Ohio law requires a juvenile accused of such serious crimes to be tried as an adult. The Associated Press generally does not identify juvenile suspects and is not naming the teenager or his mother.

Beasley's mother says her son would take the teen to church almost weekly, go fishing, play video games and involve him in volunteer work.

But the teenager's mother paints another picture of Beasley -- that of a man who threatened her son and who once said that he knew where the teen lived and that "I know where your mother lives."

Police have connected two deaths to the Craigslist scam but haven't said whether a third body found Friday is linked to it. Preliminary coroner's findings released Tuesday show the man was shot in the head and suffered brain injury. The report identified him as John Doe but said it's suspected his name is Ralph Geiger, though officials did not explain the basis for that.

A fourth man who said he answered the same ad survived a shooting, while a fifth man says he interviewed with Beasley for the fake job as a farm hand but decided not to take it.

"Richard was always a very giving person," Beasley's mother, Carol Beasley, has said. "He reached out and helped a lot of people."

Messages were left with Beasley's attorney seeking comment.

Beasley has a criminal record dating to the 1980s. He was convicted in Texas of burglary and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle in 1985, sentenced to a 40-year prison term and placed on parole for 34 years in 1989. Previous charges in Ohio include aggravated menacing, tampering with evidence, possession of criminal tools and illegal cultivation of marijuana, court records show.

Following Beasley's return to Akron in 2003, he ran a halfway house, helped deliver food to the poor and vouched for fellow offenders, telling judges they had changed their ways, the Akron Beacon Journal has reported.

Police say the halfway house was a front for prostitution, the newspaper reported, and Beasley was awaiting trial on prostitution and drug charges when authorities took him into custody this month.

The teen appears to be placing blame on Beasley, a defense attorney told the newspaper.

Beasley's mother has said that her son had taken the boy to The Chapel, an Akron megachurch, since he was 7 or 8 years old, and that they did volunteer work together, such as delivering food to the needy.

"The most I can say is, this is just a big shock to us," Carol Beasley has said. "I pray it's some other person and not him."

A church spokeswoman said Beasley had no involvement with youth activities at the church and that while his mother had long attended services, Beasley showed up only sporadically.

Beasley was not sanctioned through The Chapel, Tammy Kennedy, the executive assistant to the senior and executive pastors of The Chapel, told ABC News.

The events leading to the arrest

of Beasley and the teen began Nov. 6, when a South Carolina man who answered the ad was shot in Noble County before escaping, hiding in the woods for hours and then hiking to a farmhouse in the dark, police say.

The body of Norfolk, Va., resident David Pauley, 51, was found the following week.

Timothy Kern, 47, of Massillon, was found buried Friday near an Akron-area shopping mall. He had been shot in the head.

A third body was found Friday not far from where Pauley's was buried in a hand-dug grave.

The farm advertised on Craigslist does not exist; the remote Noble County area where Pauley's body and one other were found is property owned by a coal company and often leased to hunters.

The teenager, a junior at Stow-Munroe Falls High School, was questioned at school Nov. 16, then arrested at home that day, school spokeswoman Jacquie Mazziotta said Monday.

He has been warned he could face more than 40 years in prison, his mother told The Associated Press in a phone interview Monday from her home in the Akron area.

She stopped short of saying he provided the tip that led to the discovery of the Akron-area body but said he "has told everything he knows."

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