To see more about the crimes Richard Beasley and Brogan Rafferty committed, click here to buy the Beacon Journal eBook The Craigslist Killings.
A Summit County judge on Thursday delivered the words many gathered in the courtroom gallery had come to hear: a death sentence for so-called Craigslist killer Richard James Beasley.
After the sentencing, there were many hugs and handshakes for investigators who helped in the case and among family and friends of the three men Beasley killed.
A few moments later, a spontaneous round of applause erupted outside the courtroom for Scott Davis. If not for him and his will to survive, those applauding said, Beasley would have continued to kill.
“There was a point out there that I did not think that I was going to make it,” Davis told members of the media, referring to his encounter with Beasley in a desolate area of Noble County. “I thought I was going to die, but a warm feeling came over me and said, ‘I got you. I got this.’
“I knew I was not alone. The whole time I was in the woods, I prayed that I would make it out of there to see my family.”
Davis said he didn’t remember his feet touching the ground as he was running through the woods. He fell into holes, tripped over stumps and ran into barbed wire in a frantic effort to evade Beasley, who already had fired once at him.
Davis was among four men whom Beasley and co-defendant Brogan Rafferty had lured with a bogus offer for a dream job — paid caretaker of a vast, isolated property in Noble County — through an ad Beasley wrote for Craigslist.
Beasley and Rafferty had dug Davis’ grave a day before their planned meeting in southern Ohio, on Nov. 6, 2011, but when it came time to kill Davis, Beasley’s gun jammed. He managed to fire a shot, but Davis escaped with only a wounded arm.
Davis hid in the woods until he could reach help. He told his story to authorities, leading to the arrests of Beasley, 53, and Rafferty.
Beasley, wearing red-and-white-striped prison garb, entered the courtroom Thursday in a wheelchair. He held his head down, avoiding any eye contact as a deputy wheeled him into place at the defense table.
Common Pleas Judge Lynne S. Callahan asked if he wanted to make a statement before he was sentenced.
“Can I make my statement after the victims speak?” Beasley asked.
“Do you wish to address the court with regard to your sentence? If so, this is the time to do so,” the judge said.
“No ma’am, I do not,” Beasley said.
“Are you certain?” Callahan asked.
“Yes,” Beasley replied.
“It is the decision of this court ... to accept the recommendation of the jury ... and impose the sentence of death,” Callahan said.
Victim, families speak
Davis’ victim statement in open court also was emotional. He addressed Beasley directly.
“On Nov. 6, 2011, you shot me several times like I was a rabid dog,” he said. “You are a liar, a thief and a murderer.” He called Beasley a “worthless monster” and a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
He also talked to family members of murder victims Ralph Geiger, David Pauley and Timothy Kern.
“Your loved ones did not deserve what this animal did to them,” Davis said. “I hope some day you will find peace in your hearts. I love you all. You are all like family.”
He thanked the jurors for putting their lives on hold to listen to the case and for “looking at the facts, not the lies.”
Beasley kept his head held low as Davis spoke and during the other two impact statements delivered in court. He occasionally shook his head in disagreement to what was being said.
Debra Bruce described her brother, Pauley, as a kind, compassionate, trusting person.
“You took my best friend, confidant and my twin,” she said. “The past 17 months have been unbearable with some sleepless nights, nightmares about the last moment of his nights.
“I promised Dave I would not stop until he was found and brought back to us and would not rest until those responsible were brought to justice. Today my brother can rest in peace.”
Michael Shafer said of Geiger: “He was a people person. It was easy for him to talk to strangers. He didn’t prejudge people by their physical appearance. He also had faith in people that they were good and honest.”
Shafer called Beasley a predator who took advantage of the good in others and someone who has shown no remorse for the heinous crimes he committed.
When Beasley finally spoke, he again denied any involvement in the crimes.
He admitted the killings were “horrible” and said he was heartbroken for the families’ losses but insisted he did nothing. At one point Callahan stopped him from rambling on about military records and the appeals process.
“I have killed nobody,” Beasley said.
He encouraged family members to write to him or visit him in prison, telling them he would talk to anyone and answer any questions.
Davis and the other men’s family members said Beasley’s words meant nothing and accused him of still lying while calling himself a man of God.
Prosecutors said Geiger, 56, of Akron, was killed Aug. 9, 2011. His body was found in Noble County in November, the same day the body of Kern, 47, of Massillon, was found in a wooded area near the former Rolling Acres Mall in southwest Akron.
Authorities believe Kern was killed Nov. 13, and Pauley, 51, of Virginia, on Oct. 23.
Rafferty, a former Stow-Munroe Falls High School student, was convicted of three counts of aggravated murder last year. He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole. Because he was 16 at the time of the crimes, he could not receive the death penalty.
“While nothing can erase what happened to Scott Davis, Ralph Geiger, Timothy Kern and David Pauley, I hope that their families and Mr. Davis can now find some measure of peace,” Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said.
She attended the sentencing with Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and several FBI agents involved in the case.
Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or email@example.com.