A teenage boy and a 52-year-old pastor have been arrested in connection with three murders in Ohio that have been dubbed the “Craigslist killings.”
Brogan Rafferty, 16, and Richard Beasley are being questioned in a series of murders in which people were lured to rural areas after responding to help-wanted advertisements seeking farmhands on Craigslist. Three people were killed after being robbed, and their bodies were found in shallow graves in rural areas outside of Akron, Ohio. A fourth escaped after being shot.
“Remote farm job? Just say no,” Rita Handrich, a legal editor, tweeted.
Rafferty has been charged with attempted murder for his role in the plot. Beasley has not yet been charged but is being held on charges related to prostitution. Earlier today, Yvette Rafferty went on Good Morning America to maintain her son’s innocence, saying he had been influence by Beasley.
"Brogan looked up to Chaplain Rich Beasley," she said. "For 10 years now he's been taking the church and Bible studies. … I know one thing, my son told me that he didn't do it. And I believe it. There is a monster here. But it's not my son.”
A “free Brogan Rafferty page” on Facebook has drawn 51 followers, but most of the posters seemed to have joined to criticize the young suspect.
“Using peoples desire to work in order to kill them...seriously, that's pretty nasty,” Tristian Farmer posted on the page.
Beasley, who is being held as police try to build a criminal case against him in the murders, has spent 15 of the past 30 years in prison. His mother told Good Morning America that her son was trying to help Brogan, who struggled in school after his parent’s divorce, and the two would go fishing and play video games together.
“More craigslist killers?!? This time in Ohio... Ugh, I'm just turning off the news, not a good way to start the day, need positive thoughts,” Kimberly Temen tweeted Monday morning.
The case reminded many of the Boston case where a medical student killed a prostitute he met through Craigslist in a botched robbery attempt, as well as 2002’s Beltway sniper attacks, in which an older man and a teenage boy randomly killed 10 people in a three-week period.
Philip Markoff, the suspect in the Boston case, killed himself in prison last year while awaiting trial. The outcry over the case drew attention to the escort ads on Craiglist, prompting the company to eventually stop publishing them.
The most recent case renewed calls for more regulation for Craigslist.
“More horror that starts at craigslist. How long before regulation happens?” @SpragueD tweeted.
Public mugshot of Richard Beasley from Ohio.com