Huffpost Crime

Richard Beasley, Craigslist Murder Suspect, Was Previously Released From Jail

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RICHARD BEASLEY CRAIGSLIST
Richard J. Beasley appears in Summit County Common Pleas Court on drug charges Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011, in Akron, Ohio. Beasley is a suspect in the deadly Craigslist robbery scheme. Authorities have linked two bodies and the shooting of a man who survived to the Craigslist scheme, which targeted single, out-of-work men in their late 40s or early 50s. | AP

AKRON, Ohio — A Texas parolee now linked to a deadly Craigslist robbery scheme was in an Ohio jail and poised to stay there but was released after Texas officials said they only wanted him extradited if he were convicted on a drug charge, according to court records and a sheriff's office.

Richard Beasley, released in July on a judge's order, is now linked to an autumn plot in which, authorities say, someone tried to lure robbery victims by posting a bogus ad touting a cattle farm job in southeast Ohio.

Authorities have connected two bodies and the shooting of a man who survived to the scheme, which targeted single, out-of-work men in their late 40s or early 50s. The investigators heading up the Craigslist inquiry also found a third body but have yet to link it to the case.

Texas issued a warrant in February when Beasley was arrested on drug charges and confirmed the existence of the warrant with Ohio officials in June when Beasley was arrested again on a separate drug-dealing charge. The Texas warrant asked that Beasley be held for violating parole on a burglary conviction there.

Beasley asked to be released on bond, and on July 12, Akron Municipal Judge John Murphy granted his request. "Texas authorities are only interested in extradition if there is a conviction in Ohio," Murphy wrote.

Texas says it never authorized Beasley's release and filed two additional warrants for his arrest after the Texas Parole Authority learned he'd been freed. Beasley was released "despite the existence of the Texas warrant and detainer," Jason Clark, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said Thursday.

"That doesn't say to me we were OK with him being free from custody," Clark said. "At no point did anyone from our agency, parole division, ask that that warrant be waived."

Bill Holland, a spokesman for the Summit Count Sheriff's Office, said Texas officials said they wanted to wait until the outcome of the Akron drug case, "because if he was found not guilty, then there would be no parole violation."

On Thursday, Beasley was wheeled into court in Akron on the drug charge, accusing him of illegally dealing prescription painkillers in November 2010. Beasley's head bobbed rhythmically, and he later ignored questions about the mounting body count and his relationship with a teen murder suspect.

Beasley, unshaved and dressed in a white and gray striped jail outfit, didn't speak and kept his head down as a Summit County Common Pleas judge revoked his bond on the drug-trafficking charge.

The legal problems faced by Beasley, a 52-year-old self-styled chaplain and youth mentor, are mounting: His attorney said a prostitution case involving Beasley and a 17-year-old boy would be upgraded with a racketeering charge Friday.

The drug and prostitution cases in Akron are unrelated to a widening Craigslist homicide investigation.

In that case, 16-year-old Brogan Rafferty, of nearby Stow, faces juvenile charges of aggravated murder, complicity to aggravated murder, attempted murder and complicity to attempted murder in the death of one man and the shooting of another.

The complaint against Rafferty says he participated in the crimes with Beasley, who hasn't been charged in the Craigslist case.

Rafferty made his first public court appearance in the case Tuesday, appearing dazed as a judge postponed a hearing on whether he should be tried as an adult. He didn't speak during the hearing. His mother, Yvette Rafferty, said she was "praying for the families and the victims."

Beasley walked into court Thursday but later complained that he felt ill, and he was wheeled by deputies before the judge. He ignored reporters' questions outside court on whether there are more buried bodies and about his relationship with Rafferty.

His attorney, Rhonda Kotnik, said later that Beasley's mother is worried that he has displayed symptoms of a stroke. Beasley is taking medication for back pain, Kotnik said.

His emotional state "is distraught. He's alert, he's in pain because of his issues, his back issues," she said.

Kotnik said earlier this week that Texas had wanted Beasley held regardless of his circumstances.

"They said we don't want to waste our gas to come down there if he hasn't been convicted of anything," she said Tuesday. "So Texas wanted him held, but you can't do that, you can't hold somebody indefinitely in a jail if they post bond."

Beasley, in a four-page handwritten letter to the Akron Beacon Journal, said he has been miscast as a con man when he had helped feed, house and counsel scores of needy families, drunks, drug addicts, the mentally ill and crime suspects for years.

"To call me a con man when I sacrificed for others is wrong," wrote Beasley, who didn't mention the Craigslist investigation or Rafferty. "To turn their back on me is not following Christ's example. I gave three full years of my life to that ministry and what I got out of it was the satisfaction of doing the right thing. There was no `con' to it."

The bond revocation in the drug case for failing to appear for a Sept. 6 trial and the $1 million bond in the prostitution case allow authorities to hold Beasley as the Craigslist investigation continues.

A 15-count count indictment returned Wednesday charges Beasley with promoting prostitution and, in the case of a 17-year-old boy, compelling prostitution. The teen's involvement occurred from early November 2009 through late December 2010, the indictment said.

Kotnik said Beasley would fight the drug charge. He claims he was entrapped by an informant who was involved in a drug deal.

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Welsh-Huggins, who reported from Columbus, can be reached at . http://twitter.com/awhcolumbus