Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Teen Craigslist Killer Sentenced to Life Without Parole

Beasley and Rafferty together. Family photo.

An Ohio teenager has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Friday for his role in the murder of three men and attempted murder of a fourth. Brogan Raffery, 17, was found guilty on October 30 of two dozen charges. His sentencing was delayed due to talks of a deal which would have spared Rafferty life without parole, the maximum sentence he faced. The prosecution had offered a more lenient sentence of 30 years to life in exchange for Rafferty’s testimony against Richard Beasley, 53, who the defense said masterminded the crimes. Despite his age and troubled childhood, the judge gave Rafferty life without parole because of the nature of the crimes and because Rafferty “had the opportunity to stop the deaths.”

Rafferty and Beasley were arrested on November 16, 2011, in connection with three murders and one attempted murder. Authorities in Ohio said the duo lured their victims using job postings on Craigslist seeking farm workers. Respondents were told to bring their belongings as they would be living on a fictitious 688-acre cattle farm. The bodies of Timothy Kern, 47, Ralph Geiger, 56 and David Pauley, 51, were found in shallow graves in the woods near Akron, dead from gunshot wounds. A fourth victim, Scott Davis, 48, escaped after being shot in the elbow. According to what Rafferty told police, Beasley planned to make $30,000 to $40,000 by selling Davis’s property. Rafferty also told police he “felt horrible” about the murder of Kern, whose only possession was a 1989 Buick that Beasley planned to sell to a scrap yard.

During the trial, prosecutors argued that Rafferty was a willing participant in the crimes, while the defense said he acted out of fear.  In a taped police interview played for jurors, Rafferty said he was “ordered” to dig a grave for one of the victims, and that Beasley “watched him like a hawk.” Rafferty also said Beasley reminded him that he knew where his mother and sister lived.

In the end, the jury rejected Rafferty’s defense of being a pawn in Beasley’s scheme. Scott Davis, the surviving victim, served as the prosecution’s star witness. During the trial, Davis told the jury how he’d eaten a meal with Rafferty before he and Beasley attempted to take his life. During the sentencing proceedings, Davis told Rafferty that he had an opportunity to “stop what was about to happen.”

Beasley has an extensive criminal record and has served a total of 15 years in jail, on charges including drug trafficking. He worked as an unpaid chaplain, and, according to his elderly mother, “has a very caring heart.” He acted as a sort of mentor to Rafferty who’d been having difficulties since his parents’ divorce. The two went fishing and volunteered together. Beasley has pleaded not guilty and faces the death penalty if convicted. Despite not receiving a more lenient sentence, Rafferty is expected to testify against him at his trial.

Philip Markoff: The Craigslist Killer