Friday, December 02, 2011

Craigslist ad promising easy farm work connected to death of at least three in rural southern Ohio

Three men have been killed and another injured in an online scheme that lured them to rural southern Ohio through a Craigslist ad, Erica Goode of The New York Times reports. The ad offered $300 a week, a free trailer and unlimited fishing for anyone willing to "watch over a 688 acre patch of hilly farmland and feed a few cows." The three men killed were from Virginia, the Akron area and an unidentified location, and were found in shallow graves on property that turned out to belong to a coal company. The bogus ad drew more than 100 responses and authorities say more bodies may be found.

Goode reports the number of applicants is not surprising in a rural area hit hard by the recession where people are desperate for jobs, implying the perpetrators played on this desperation to lure victims. Police suspect robbery may be the motive, though other theories have circulated, including identity theft and the desire to kill, Goode reports, adding "the perpetrators appeared to be looking for loners who would not be missed." Two suspects have been arrested: Richard J. Beasley, 52, of Akron and Brogan Rafferty, 16, of Stow, Ohio. Beasley hasn't been charged in the killings, but is being held on charges of promoting prostitution and selling OxyContin. Rafferty has been charged with attempted murder, aggravated murder and complicity in those crimes concerning two of the victims.

Goode reports survivor, Scott Davis of South Carolina, told police he met with two men for breakfast and then was driven to a nearby "farm." While walking through the woods, Davis reported hearing a gun being cocked and turned to see it pointed at his head. Deflecting the gun and running into the woods led Davis to help two miles away. Goode reports when police searched the property, they found a shallow, hand-dug grave. (Read more)

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