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Adult in Craigslist case charged with murder

By Thomas J. Sheeran and Andrew Welsh-Huggins

Associated PRess

Published: Friday, Jan. 20 2012 10:40 p.m. MST

Summit County Prosecuting Attorney Sherri Bevan Walsh and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine take media questions after Walsh announced a 28-count indictment against 52-year-old Richard James Beasley of Akron during a news conference at the Oliver Ocasek Auditorium on Friday, Jan. 20, 2012 in Akron, Ohio.

Associated Press

AKRON, Ohio — A self-styled chaplain suspected in a deadly scheme to rob people who replied to a Craigslist job ad has been charged with multiple counts of aggravated murder, kidnapping and robbery and could face the death penalty if convicted, according to an indictment announced Friday.

The charges against Richard Beasley accuse him of killing three men and wounding a fourth in August, October and November.

Beasley, 52, of Akron, who has been jailed in Akron on unrelated prostitution and drug charges, has denied involvement in the Craigslist slayings. He was arrested in November after authorities linked him to the alleged plot.

Prosecutors would not speculate on a motive but Attorney General Mike DeWine, who joined in announcing the charges, said investigators are looking at "serial killings."

"Are there more bodies? We frankly do not know," DeWine said, appealing to people with any information about missing persons to come forward.

A judge determined that the case of a juvenile suspect mentored by Beasley will be moved out of the county where two slaying victims were found and another was shot but survived.

The decision to transfer the case of Brogan Rafferty to Summit County came after a hearing Friday afternoon, said Tonda Brown, Noble County Court Assignment Commissioner. She said the gag order in the case has also been lifted.

Messages were left with the Noble County prosecutor and Rafferty's attorney in Noble County. The Summit County Prosecutor's Office could not immediately comment, said spokeswoman April Wiesner.

Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said the case of Beasley, with the nature of the crimes and the multitude of charges, was made for the death penalty.

"This case we view as to be one of the worst of the worst when it comes to horrible murder cases," Walsh said.

The 28-count indictment against Beasley also included theft, weapons and identity theft charges. Beasley received the indictment Friday, and a decision will be made next week about his representation, said Rhonda Kotnik, an attorney who has been representing Beasley on the non-Craigslist charges.

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