Craigslist job adverts 'lured unemployed to their deaths'
They are calling them the Craigslist Killers: a teenage boy and his 52-year-old mentor are accused of using the classified advertising website to lure unemployed men to a remote corner of rural Ohio, where they were shot in the head, before being buried in shallow graves.
Richard Beasley and 16-year-old Brogan Rafferty appeared in court in the city of Akron this week, after being arrested by police investigating the murder of at least two jobseekers, and the attempted murder of another man.
A fourth, unidentified, body has also been uncovered. Police are still searching for more victims, and say that although the motive was probably robbery or identity theft, it is possible that the men were simply killed for pleasure.
Court papers allege that Beasley and Rafferty placed an advert on Craigslist seeking applicants for the "job of a lifetime", as caretaker for a "688-acre patch of hilly farmland". Applicants were offered unlimited fishing, $300-a-week, and accommodation in a trailer.
More than 100 people responded. Several were called to an interview by Beasley and Rafferty. They were mostly uneducated, single men, with no close family ties, in their 40s or 50s.
If offered the job, the men were then driven to the supposed "cattle farm". But in reality, it didn't exist: the land is instead owned by a coal company. And for most of the would-be caretakers, the tour of the property was to be their last. Beasley and Rafferty were not arrested until one of their alleged victims managed to escape.
Scott Davis, 48, drove from his home in South Carolina to Marietta to meet the duo for breakfast. While walking through woods, Davis "heard what he thought was a gun being cocked", according to a transcript of his police interview. "He turned to see a gun pointed at his head. He deflected the gun and ran."
Davis found help at a house two miles away, and when police arrived they discovered several recently dug, shallow graves nearby. Beasley and Rafferty were later traced by FBI agents tracking their computers.
Rafferty faces charges of aggravated murder and attempted murder. Beasley, who appeared in court yesterday, is named as an accomplice but has not yet been charged with any murders.