Craigslist Murder Suspect Called ‘Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’

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AKRON-- A jury is seated and opening statements have begun in the trial of Richard Beasley.

The 53-year-old faces a possible death penalty if he is convicted in the murders of Ralph Geiger, 56, of Akron, David Pauley, 51, of Norfolk Virginia, and Timothy Kern, 47, of Massillon.

The bodies of Geiger and Pauley were discovered in shallow graves in a rural area of Noble County, Ohio, in 2011.

Timothy Kern’s body was discovered near the Rolling Acres Mall.

A fourth victim, Scott Davis, 48, of South Carolina, was shot in the arm but escaped by running and hiding in the woods.

Beasley is accused of luring the men using a Craigslist ad for a farm job. Together with co-defendant Brogan Rafferty, he is accused of killing the men then dividing their belongings.

Monday, prosecutor Emily Pelphrey opened by saying in preparing for the trial she found herself searching for a word that best describes Richard Beasley and "A phrase that kept echoing in my mind is: 'a wolf in sheep's clothing.'"

"Richard Beasley went by many different names... Went by Richard, Dutch, Ralph, Jack....and our defendant...delivered a message of hope, a message of change to different men, these men Ralph Geiger, David Pauley, Scott Davis and Timothy Kern, all wanted changes in their lives...they believed that this man, Dutch, Jack, whatever he went by was (offering them change).

Prosecutors say the jury will see cell phone records that link Beasley to the victims.  They will see a letter that shows where the victims were buried, "And as if that isn't enough, he drew a map."

Prosecutors say he changed his appearance like a chameleon- not just changed his appearance but changed his identity to the identity of one of his victims.

"Most importantly in this case you will hear from the mouth of the sole survivor, Scott Davis.  His "horrific ordeal. He's going to tell you that Jack, Richard Beasley, was the man behind the gun that day."

Defense attorney James Burdon is also delivering defense opening statements.

Burdon tells the jury, “There is no witness that this defendant committed those murders..period!” explaining that the evidence the state will use is all circumstantial.

Burdon says Beasley was falsly accused of placing the Craigslist ad that lured the victims to Caldwell, Ohio.

He told the jury that Beasley was acquainted with a man named Jerry Hood who lived in Caldwell, Ohio who had a long criminal history.

Read more here.