What was going through the mind of Richard Beasley when he lured three innocent men to their deaths?
In November 2011, Scott Davis, 48, smiled as he was driving through beautiful farmland.
A month before, he’d found a job as a caretaker for a cattle ranch on Craigslist. He’d packed all his belongings and driven from South Carolina to Ohio.
Now, his new boss, Jack, and Jack’s teenage nephew, were driving Scott to the remote farm.
Suddenly, they stopped the car, told Scott they’d continue on foot. Scott heard a click behind him. Turning, he saw Jack pointing a gun at his head.
He fired. The bullet shattered his elbow – desperate, he ran for help.
When he told police his incredible story, they recognised Scott’s description of his attacker.
‘Jack’ was actually street preacher Richard Beasley, 52. And his ‘cousin’ was his follower, Brogan Rafferty, 16.
It turned out Scott wasn’t their first victim. In fact, more than 100 men had applied for the caretaker’s job. At least three had been offered it and arrived to take up the position.
All had been shot, and buried in shallow graves and Beasley had kept their possessions…
But what turned him into a calculating killer?
Richard Beasley’s father left when he was 18 months old. His stepfather was an alcoholic gambler, who allegedly beat his stepson. If there was neglect and abuse, it may have caused Beasley confusion and insecurity, depression and low self-esteem.
Beasley also claimed he was molested.
He had a high IQ but was diagnosed with ADHD – causing inattention and hyperactivity.
He joined the US Navy, but became an alcoholic and addicted to drugs. After leaving, he spent 15 years in jail for charges including drug trafficking and burglary.
At his later murder trial, a forensic psychologist testified that Beasley displayed narcissistic and antisocial traits. These can include destructive and self-centred behaviour, meaning there would be no remorse or compassion for his victims.
Released from prison in 2004, he played the role of street preacher. Brogan Rafferty, 16, was struggling with his parents’ divorce, so Beasley became his mentor. And manipulated the teen into helping him to kill.
Then in 2011, Beasley posted the bogus job offer. It targeted older, lone men who Beasley could impersonate after their death, enabling him to sell their valuables.
The three victims were David Pauley, 51, Ralph Greiger, 56, and Timothy Kern, 47.
Following Scott Davis’ escape, and Beasley and Rafferty’s arrests in November 2011, their victims were found in shallow graves.
A year on, Brogan Rafferty, then 17, was convicted of multiple counts of murder, attempted murder and wounding, and was sentenced to life without parole.
In March 2013, Richard Beasley denied 28 counts of kidnap, murder, robbery and attempted murder.
He was sentenced to death.
So was it his traumatic upbringing that made him bad? Certainly it’s possible it played a part.
However, there’s no evidence to support that Craigslist killer Beasley didn’t know what he was doing.
And he still believes his conviction will be overturned.