Hoping to land a farm job and move close to his family, Scott Davis, then 47, met his new boss and walked with him through the autumn-colored woodlands of southeaster Ohio on November 6, 2011, at around 7:30 pm.
Everything went fine, said Davis, until he heard a curse word from the man who he knew as “Jack,” and then the click of a gun. He whirled around to find a pistol stuck in his face. He shielded the blow by knocking the firearm from its shooters hand, and then ran for his life.
Stumbling several times, while being fired upon, Davis raced through the thicket and hid in a creed bed under a tree for seven hours; until he felt it, safe enough to go for help. He feared bleeding to death he later told police.
This bizarre and grisly story was uncovered when a Noble County couple heard a knock on their farmhouse door. They were shocked to discover the terrified and bleeding South Carolina man pleading for help.
Immediately the victim was aided and the authorities notified. Paramedics arrived, and the man was transported to the area hospital with a bullet wound to the right elbow. After interviewing the man in his hospital room, Officials with the Noble County Sheriff’s office, discovered that he had recently responded to an ad on Craiglist for a job on an Ohio cattle farm, nearly seven-hundred acres.
According to the victim, he had earlier that day met up with an older man who introduced himself as “Jack”, and his nephew, in Marietta who bought him breakfast before driving to the alleged cattle farm. The men then told the victim the road to the cattle farm was closed due to a landslide and they needed to walk to the property through a heavily wooded area.
Five days later, according to Noble County Sheriff Stephen Hannum, his office received a call from a woman stating her brother David Pauley, went missing after answering a Craigslist ad for an Ohio cattle farm job. The woman had learned of the man being shot from news reports and told authorities that she feared her brother, who was from Florida, might have suffered the same fate.
That phone call prompted police to get a search warrant for the property that in reality was an abandoned coal company and not a cattle farm at all. Sheriff’s deputies returned to the area with cadaver sniffing dogs and members of the FBI and BCI Special Agents. A thorough search of the large acreage, revealed a decomposed male corpse that turned out to be the missing Florida man.
Further searching revealed later in the week, another corpse buried in a similar shallow grave and another newly dug grave nearby. This body had no identification on it making it more difficult to identify. Authorities assumed the empty grave was for the victim who escaped. At that time, the only motive police had was robbery. Numerous agencies, including the FBI, became involved.
When news of her brother’s murder was relayed to her, Roberta Pauley was devasted.
That same week, relatives reported another missing man. Now authorities needed to locate forty-seven-year-old Tim Kern of Massillon in Stark County. He was last seen just before he accepted a job over the Internet. His family had not heard from him for several days, which was unusual for Tim.
He talked with family members daily, with his last conversation November 13. On his Facebook page November 10, he talked of the strange but “good” job south of Cambridge, Ohio; he was going to check into. Stark County was south of Cambridge. The FBI feared the worst.
By now, the news of the shooting victim and the two dead men was area known. Tim Kern’s family held onto hope as they faced a potentially grim reality that one of the deceased was Tim. His father told reporters the family was praying Tim was not a victim of what the reporters now dubbed “The Craigslist killings.” They prayed Tim returned home unharmed.
Jack Kern claimed that the family kept their fingers crossed and hoped for the best saying, “and that’s all we can do. I don’t want to think the worst.”
He claimed Tim left for Plain Twp. on a Sunday morning, left his car and a man picked him up at 6:00. Tim’s 17-year-old son drove him to the interview at an Akron restaurant days before he disappeared. A restaurant that had surveillance cameras.
According to the son, his father returned to the car very upbeat about the interview. He said the older interviewer who identified himself as “Jack” and a younger man-the nephew, accompanied him.
The son explained that his father told him that the interviewer agreed to pay him $300 a week, give him a truck to drive around the farm, and a trailer to live in. According to the son, Tim was determined to turn his life around and really go forward.
Tim told the family he wanted to better himself and be able to give his kids what they needed. Some thought that strange, since reality speaking 300 dollars a week was hard for one person to live on, yet someone with three children. Opinions ran high in this case. Others thought Tim did the right choice in choosing the job, but others believed he should have stayed in his own area and found employment.
When Tim’s 18-year-old son learned of the murder of Pauley Davis, he wrote a posting on his website, which ended, “If you could keep my family and me in your thoughts I would appreciate it. The years ahead of me will be so hard. I love you dad. Rest in Peace.” It was obvious; the son gave up all hope in finding his father alive.
At the time of the son‘s posting, the FBI still considered Tim Kern a missing persons investigation, and not a murder case. Tim’s children, all boys, ages 17, 18 and 26-years-old, said they had little hope, which the FBI found strange.
Jerry Hood Sr. who had multiply health problems, and was in the hospital and did not actually live on his property owned the property the bodies were found on. The homestead was deserted according to investigators. There were no livestock to attend too, only empty coal cars and tunnels. The authorities now knew the Craiglist ad was bogus just to lure unsuspecting men to their deaths after being robbed.
Brennan Dunlap, 17, of Canton, had known the Kern family since he was a youngster. He said Tim Kern was like a second father to him. He described Tim as a very loving and caring person to his kids. He said Tim definitely put his kids in front of him before anything, and always made time for them.
The Cleveland FBI began giving interviews and asking the public for help in locating Tim Kern and any information about the Craigslist posting of a hired farmhand. They were very interested in knowing if there were other victims who survived the attacks. They believed the situation in Noble and Summit Counties were linked.
When one man from Geauga County saw the Craigslist ad for a farmhand, he eagerly applied. Then just weeks later, he received a visit from the FBI. Mike McKinnon, of Burton, says he applied for the job on October 12, but never heard back from anyone. After the murders were uncovered, he said he felt lucky he was turned down for the job.
The 39-year old McKinnon says he was prepared to pack up and move his teenage daughters to southern Ohio. He claimed he had once been a caretaker for a farm, so when I saw the chance to be a farmer, free room and board, a truck and 300 a week, he thought that would be an awesome job to have.
The bogus ad would later become the center of an investigation into the shooting of one man, and the discovery of two bodies on a farm in Noble County. McKinnon did not make the connection until this week, when he received a call from a special agent with the FBI.
Tim Kern’s body was found days later in a shallow grave near the Rolling Acres Mall. Discovered by a work crew.
The Kern family was and was not expecting the outcome. Kern’s son posted this on his webpage: “Today when I woke up I was told that my father was one of the three people killed by the latest Craigslist killer.”
Norma Broomfield, the Floor Manager at Scott Talbot Salonspa in Canton, knew Tim Kern as a loving father who coached her son’s baseball team. She claimed Tim was good with the kids and an amazing baseball player. “He was just a good guy with a big heart,” she recalled.
The FBI Agent told McKinnon, that the agency was investigating the Craigslist case out of Cambridge. It appeared that his email address was in contact with the subject in the case, regarding a farm caretaker position down in Southern Ohio.
He explained that his name was saved on the interviewer’s computer, and the FBI was contacting those people to verify they were alive. McKinnon said he felt a sense of gratitude to the man who escaped the farm and alerted police, calling him “my hero.” He believed if the man had not escaped, he would have been offered the job next, and he too would be killed.
Another man who responded to the ad has said he met Beasley at a food court at a different mall in the Akron area on Oct. 10. Ron Sanson was told the man was looking for an older, single or divorced person to watch over a 688-acre farm in southeast Ohio- the kind of man, Sanson said, whose disappearance might not be quickly noticed, believe police.
Sanson and Kern are both divorced. So was Pauley. Sanson, 58, said he filled out an application and talked for about 20 minutes with a man who called himself “Ralph”, and he had a nephew with him. They discussed the $300-a-week job overseeing a swath of land a mile from the nearest neighbor and living rent-free in a two-bedroom trailer with opportunities to hunt and fish and free access to ATVs and snowmobiles.
Investigators would not speculate as to whether they believe there are any more bodies to be found. Michael says he would not be surprised if they discovered more. He believed that it was just a matter of time before they find more bodies. He figured the fraud was something that the killer started some time ago and it just took one person to get away to put a stop to it. He claimed he now would never answer an online ad again.
With the help of Scott Davis, police scoured the database and discovered the man who Scott said interviewed him for the farm job. That man turned out to be fifty-one-year-old Richard Beasley. They then confiscated the surveillance tape from the restaurant and Davis identified himself on the tape talking with “Jack” and the nephew. Believing the nephew a minor, police scoured the area high schools asking teachers if they knew him.
Within weeks of viewing the surveillance tape, the FBI located 16-year-old Brogan Rafferty. They believed their best chance of getting information would come from the kid. How Brogan was arrested was shocking for not only him but also his entire school. Dr. Russell Jones, the Stow Munroe-Falls City Schools superintendent, gave a press conference the same day the Federal Bureau of Investigation pulled the junior out of school for an interview at the Stow Police Department, before sending him home to his parents.
Once there he admitted to everything. The case was now half way solved. The teen’s interviews were recorded.
Chilling details were revealed about the so-called “Craigslist killings.” On one of the tapes, Rafferty admitted to a detective that he dug the hole for one of the victims around the same time he found out about the Craigslist ad.
He denied knowing that his mentor, 51-year-old Richard Beasley, had allegedly planned to kill the men and steal their possessions, and denied any direct role in the slayings.
Brogan denied to the detective of shooting anyone. However, in the third recorded interview, Rafferty admitted that Richard Beasley told him about the scheme, and Rafferty admitted that he helped Beasley attempt to cover up the slaying of 51-year-old David Pauley.
He admitted that he helped place David Pauley in his grave. In one of the police interviews, Brogan indicated that after the killings, he and Richard Beasley would retrieve the victims’ vehicles and later split up their possessions. Rafferty told police that after one of the murders, Beasley revealed his alleged motive for killing the victims.
According to Brogan, Beasley was killing the men as a means of survival because he was on the run.
When asked by a detective what he thought, Rafferty said, “I thought it was good for him because he had been talking about having family on the way down there and I thought it would look bad for Rich and probably bad for me, but good for him.”
If convicted of aggravated murder and attempted murder, Rafferty could face life in prison.
Richard J. Beasley, of Akron, was also taken into custody. Beasley was held on a $1 million bond at the Summit County Jail on charges of aggravated trafficking in drugs and compelling prostitution.
In a joint news release issued, Sheriff Hannum and Noble County Prosecutor Clifford Sickler announced that the two had been charged. A complaint was filed in Noble County Common Pleas Court Juvenile Division charging Brogan from Summit County, Ohio, with one count of attempted murder and one count of complicity to attempted murder. He remained in custody. He and his family were advised of seek legal counsel.
Once Richard Beasley was in custody, he denied any involvement with the killings or robberies. Authorities knew he was lying, and spent their time putting together a case against both with Rafferty as their star witness.
Back in Canton, Ohio, the murders shocked everyone. Both friends and strangers came together over the weekend to remember Tim Kern, too celebrate his life, and to help his family.
Melissa Albaugh organized a benefit at her hair salon Sunday. Anyone getting a haircut, manicure or pedicure would help raise money for the Tim Kern Family. Tim, she said, was not a man who asked for help. He was a hard working person who was trying to take care of his family.
The stylists and nail technicians, who never met Tim Kern, donated their services for the benefit. She described the murders a horrible tragedy that happened and I would do anything to help in that time of need.
People from the community donated raffle baskets and baked goods for the benefit. All monies raised at the Sunday salon event went directly to the family of Tim Kern.
On November 28, 2011, Brogan’s mother Yvette Rafferty told Fox 8 that her son denied killing anyone. “He didn’t hear it and he didn’t see it,” she claimed. She said she thanked God, Scott survived. She said she cannot put into words how sorry Brogan is, and she cannot change anything that has happened. She said her son recently wrote her a letter from his jail cell, and she shared it with Fox 8.
A paragraph from the letter read, “I could be facing up to 25 years. This of course would mean not only wasting the better half of my life, but standing by while all my older relatives die, possibly including you and dad.”
Yvette said she and Brogan’s father allowed the boy to spend time with Richard Beasley, an ex-con who claimed he had found religion, because they felt he would be a good influence. If what authorities say is true, they unwittingly entrusted their son to a monster who corrupted him.
Yvette said, “Sometimes you don’t pay attention. You trust somebody; you don’t pay attention to all the details around you is what I think.” She claimed Brogan informed her that authorities now plan to try him as an adult. “He looked up and he always thought he was doing the right thing,” she said.
At a pretrial hearing in February 2012, Rafferty entered a not guilty plea to all charges, including the most serious of which, nine counts of aggravated murder. Audiotape of three statements that Brogan gave to police was played in a hearing at the Summit County Courthouse.
Attorneys for the now 17-year-old Rafferty maintain the statements were coerced by investigators, and asked a judge to prevent prosecutors from presenting them as evidence when Rafferty stood trial.
The teen waived a probable cause hearing in juvenile court. He was then bound over to Summit County’s Common Pleas Court. All of Rafferty’s hearings would be in front of Judge Lynne S. Callahan.
Rafferty faced multiple charges including aggravated murder, aggravated robbery and grand theft. Rafferty was accused of helping Beasley by digging holes for the bodies, helping to conceal the bodies, and driving the car to the crime scenes where he was aware of what Beasley was doing.