Ohio Craigslist Killings

Liana Teixeira

A suspect in the recent Ohio Craigslist killings pleaded not guilty to 15-counts of prostitution charges during his hearing in Summit County Common Pleas Court on Friday.  Richard Beasley, a 52-year-old pastor of Akron, Ohio, also denies allegations that he compelled a 17-year-old boy into prostitution.

Beasley plans to fight the charges, said Rhonda Kotnik, Beasley’s attorney, to the Associated Press.  However, Beasley faces an even larger set of accusations involving the killings linked with Craigslist job advertisements.

A series of murders occurred on the outskirts of Akron, Ohio, in which people were lured to secluded areas after responding to help-wanted advertisements on the Craigslist website.  The victims were typically 40 to 50-year-old unemployed men; they were killed, robbed, and buried in shallow graves.  Two of the bodies have been positively linked to the scheme, but the third has yet to be identified as being also connected.

Among the victims was 47-year-old Timothy Kern of Massillon, Ohio, who was found with gunshot wounds to the head.  The second victim was David Pauley, 51, of Norfolk, Virginia, who was found 90 miles south of Akron in Nobel County.  A South Carolina man admits to answering the ad, but managed to escape after being shot.  Funeral arrangements are currently being made in Massillon for Kern.

Police have charged an Ohio teenager for his alleged role in the Craigslist killings.  Brogan Rafferty, 16, faces charges of aggravated murder, complicity to aggravated murder, and complicity to attempted murder.  The Nobel County Probate Court has scheduled a hearing for Dec. 15 to determine whether Rafferty should be tried as an adult, reports CBSNews.com.  If tried and convicted as an adult, Rafferty could face life in prison.

Beasley’s mother, Carol Beasley, 70, said to ABCNews.com that she had known Brogan Rafferty since he was eight years old and that her son was trying to mentor the troubled youth.  Rafferty also claims that Beasley acted as his mentor, but official charges have yet to be brought against Beasley regarding the Craigslist killings.