A man accused of a scheme to rob people who replied to a job ad on Craigslist has been charged with aggravated murder, kidnapping and robbery in the killing of three men and could face the death penalty if convicted, according to an indictment announced on Friday.
Richard Beasley, 52, has denied involvement in the plot, which lured single and older out-of-work men to a nonexistent farm in rural Ohio. A fourth man was wounded in the series of attacks last fall.
Prosecutors on Friday would not speculate on a motive, but Attorney General Mike DeWine said investigators were looking at “serial killings.”
“Are there more bodies? We frankly do not know,” DeWine said.
Beasley has been jailed on unrelated prostitution and drug charges. He was arrested in November after authorities linked him to the alleged plot. A message was left with the attorney who has been representing him on the non-Craigslist charges.
An acquaintance of Beasley, 16-year-old Brogan Rafferty, could face similar charges after being transferred to adult court late last year.
Authorities say the scheme targeted men with backgrounds that made it unlikely their disappearances would be noted right away.
The first victim, Ralph Geiger, 55, was killed the day after he left a homeless shelter saying he was taking a farm job. His body was not found until Nov. 25.
The second victim, David Pauley, 51, came to Ohio after answering the Craigslist ad. A friend has said Pauley was desperate for work. Police say he was killed Oct. 23, and his body was found on Nov. 15.
The third victim, Timothy Kern, 47, answered the ad and was last seen on Nov. 13, authorities said. His body was also found on Nov. 25.
A surviving victim, Scott Davis, 48, answered the ad and was shot on Nov. 6 before escaping, police say.
Geiger’s brother, Mark Geiger, said he is not a death penalty advocate, but would not oppose it, although life in prison for Beasley would also satisfy him.
“As long as Beasley never has the opportunity to interact with the outside world again, that’s what I feel would be appropriate,” Geiger said.
Beasley was a Texas parolee when he returned to Ohio in 2004 after serving several years in prison on a burglary conviction. He was released from jail in July after a judge mistakenly allowed him to post bond on a drug-trafficking charge.
In a four-page handwritten letter to the Akron Beacon Journal newspaper, Beasley has said he has been miscast as a con man when he really helped feed, house and counsel scores of needy families, alcoholics, drug addicts, the mentally ill and crime suspects for years.
“To call me a con man when I sacrificed for others is wrong,” wrote Beasley, who did not mention the Craigslist investigation. “To turn their back on me is not following Christ’s example.”