By Phil Trexler, Akron Beacon Journal –
AKRON, Ohio — A suitcase filled with weapons was found in the bedroom of a Stow teen accused of conspiring with his mentor and carrying out the so-called Craigslist killings, Summit County prosecutors said Wednesday.
Jurors viewed images of a sawed-off shotgun, a .22-caliber pistol, a cased shotgun, two knives and various ammunition that authorities say police recovered from Brogan Rafferty’s bedroom last fall.
None of the weapons recovered, however, conclusively was linked to the three men Rafferty is accused of killing with his longtime family friend and mentor, 53-year-old Richard Beasley of Akron. A fourth victim was shot and injured but escaped.
Rafferty, 17, and a former Stow-Munroe Falls High School student, is charged with multiple counts of aggravated murder, kidnapping, robbery and theft. He has pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors on Wednesday questioned a state forensic expert, Allan Buxton, who testified about several computers recovered during the investigation. Two computers, each belonging to Beasley, had details in the hard drives about the Craigslist ad and records belonging to victim David Pauley.
A search of the computer recovered from Rafferty’s home showed someone used his sign-on and searched websites for information on handguns, including the one found in his room, and “how to make a sawed-off shotgun.”
Defense attorney John Alexander pointed out, and Buxton agreed, that anyone in the Rafferty home could have used the computer.
Prosecutors say the victims all responded to a Craigslist help-wanted ad in 2011. The listing, billed in the ad as a “job of a lifetime,” promised the use of an expansive property in Noble County and a trailer, plus $300 weekly salary to oversee the land.
The ad appeared as early as July 2011, when prosecutors say Ralph Geiger, 56, of Akron, responded. Geiger’s body was found in Noble County in November, the same day the body of Timothy Kern, 47, of Massillon, was found in a wooded area near Rolling Acres Mall in southwest Akron. Prosecutors believe Geiger was killed around Aug. 9, 2011.
The scheme did not come to the attention of law enforcement until Scott Davis, 48, was shot Nov. 6 while touring the property with two men believed to be Beasley and Rafferty. His escape led authorities to the body of Pauley, 51, of Virginia, who was buried on the same property.
Authorities believe Kern was killed Nov. 13 and Pauley on Oct. 23.
Prosecutors also questioned Buxton about Kern’s cell phone, which they said was found along with the man’s remains in Akron. The phone had calls to a number linked to Beasley. It also contained text messages between Kern and his son, Nicholas.
Timothy Kern’s last text was sent about 5:30 a.m. Nov. 13, roughly the time surveillance images show him driving off with two men.
The Craigslist ad required applicants to submit their background information, including their marital status. All of the victims were down-on-their-luck bachelors.
“I’m about to go,” Kern texted his son, referring to the handyman job he just presumably accepted. He said he would miss Nicholas and encouraged him to visit.
“In the long run, things will be better …Your (sic) very special.”
“I love you too,” the son replied.