In 2011, a 48-year-old Ohio native named Scott Davis returned to his home state after living in South Carolina. He was excited about the prospect of a new job, working as a caretaker on a plot of land in a job he’s found through a Craigslist ad. Looking to start fresh in his home state, Davis thought the idea of overseeing a plot of farmland and making $300 per week, in addition to room and board, would be well worth it for him.
He met with two men who purported to have put the ad out. Davis met his potential employer, who called himself Jack, at a restaurant in a very public place in Ohio. Jack had a teenager with him, too, who he identified as his nephew. Sensing nothing amiss, Davis went with the two to survey the property he’d be overseeing.
Davis rode with the pair to a remote plot of land. When they arrived, he got out to check the area and heard a sound that he believes was a gun misfiring. That misfire would be extremely lucky, not only saving Davis’s life, but also dooming his would-be killer to capture. Jack pulled the trigger again, shooting Davis through the elbow. The Ohio native, fearing for his life, scrambled into the wooded area, literally running for his life.
He eventually reached safety, calling the police from the home of a person who lived nearby. The ensuing investigation unraveled a deep conspiracy, revealing the threat of the deadly “Craigslist Killer”.
An investigation of the region where Davis was shot led police to the body of other victims. One, David Pauley, 51, had answered an identical Craigslist ad as Davis, according to his surviving twin sister, Debra Bruce. Police would trace the Craigslist account that posted the ads to the home of a man named Joe Bais, who lived in Akron. Bais himself denied any knowledge of the Craigslist ads, but did point police to a tenant who had lived in his basement named “Dutch”.
There was no man by such a name, however: police discovered that “Dutch” was another pseudonym for the real culprit, 52-year-old Richard Beasley. Police later discovered that the teenage “nephew” who was with Beasley was not related to him; instead, he was a sixteen-year-old Akron native named Brandon Rafferty. Beasley had taken the boy in as his grim mentor, teaching him how to entrap and murder their victims.
Rafferty, who refused plea deals and didn’t turn on his mentor, was convicted of three counts of murder in 2013 and sentenced to life in prison. Beasley, who was also convicted, was sentenced to face the death penalty in 2013. As of the time of this writing, he is still in jail awaiting execution. While his crime spree has ended, the impact of the Craigslist Killer on the minds of entire nation has been solidified.