Upon reading about the Ohio murders that seemed to be linked to a Craigslist ad luring people to an area where they think they will be gaining employment, I wonder if the perpetrator is a fan of the TV show ‘Dexter.’ I recently got myself into the highly addictive show about a serial killer who works for the Miami police department as a forensics investigator. I am in to the 2nd season (DVDs are a wonderful thing!) and thus far I have seen catchy names for sought after bad guys such as the “ice truck killer” or the “bay harbor butcher.” While ‘Craigslist Killer’ may seem like a character from a lame TV movie, it may actually be a reality.
On Saturday, Summit County Medical Examiner Dr. Lisa Kohler ruled that the latest victim, Timothy Kern, 47, died of multiple gunshot wounds to the head.
The Massillon man had been missing since Nov. 13, when he told family and friends that he had landed a job he found on Craigslist.
The bogus Craigslist ad promised prospective workers the use of a 688-acre farm, a two-bedroom trailer and $300 a week to oversee the property. The ad instructed the men chosen for the jobs to bring their belongings with them to Ohio and begin living and working on the ranch. According to preliminary law enforcement reports, robbery is believed to be the motive behind the shootings. The two men did not know each other and reported for work on different days.
Law enforcement officers have two men in custody on murder and attempted murder charges. Forensic computer evidence was obtained through tracing email communication between the South Carolina victim and the supposed employer.
Richard Beasley, 52, is being held in the Summit County Jail under a $1 million bond. He has not been charged in the killings, but is considered the source of the help-wanted ad and the primary suspect.
His attorney, Rhonda Kotnik, said Saturday that she met with Beasley last week. During their meeting at the jail, the Akron man denied any involvement in the killings.
“He said it’s not him. That’s it. He’s innocent,” she said Saturday.
Beasley’s alleged accomplice — Brogan Rafferty, 16, a Stow-Munroe Falls High School junior — is being held in a juvenile detention facility in Zanesville. He is charged with complicity to attempted murder in the Nov. 6 shooting of Scott Davis, a former Canton man, who visited Noble County after accepting the Craigslist job.
Davis was shot in the arm while walking the property with two men he met in response to the ad. He fled the assault and hid in the heavily wooded land for seven hours before finding help.
On the one hand, I sort of want the real killer to be as smart as Dexter and not one of these suspects who have prior histories with the law or caught nearby the place of the crime. On the other hand, the Dexter character would only kill people he deemed to be bad people, and I so far haven’t read reports that the victims had done anything bad in their lives so, perhaps the TV show comparison is a vague connection at best.
Seriously though, after watching compelling dramas about a serial killer, then seeing real reports of a Craigslist related killer, it is hard not to think there could be similarities. I know there are not, but one can only wonder.
The question remains if one these suspects is actually the perpetrator or is there really some evil genius out there?
After spending 15 years in prison over three different stints in the 1980s and 1990s, Beasley said he became a Christian and a minister of sorts.
That sounds like a decent premise for a serial drama to me—although not original. Either Beasley really is innocent as he claims, or he isn’t a very good minister.
One thing we can learn from this is that no matter how desperate you are for a job and Craigslist really is a good resource for finding employment (despite the bad press), just don’t do anything silly and go out into secluded wooded areas with people as the result of an ad. There are great, legitimate opportunities advertised on Craigslist every day, but none of them should have to do with long walks in the forest.