Wooded area where police say a Florida man was killed after responding to a craiglist ad in Ohio. (Courtesy ONN)
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Wooded area where police say a Florida man was killed after responding to a craiglist ad in Ohio. (Courtesy ONN)
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Mother of teen accused in craigslist murder-robbery plot speaks out

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AKRON, Ohio - The mother of a Summit County teen, who's accused in a craigslist murder-robbery plot, is speaking out about the allegations.

It all began in October, when a Florida man was looking for a job on a cattle farm just east of Columbus.

After answering that ad in person, the Florida man was never seen again.

On Nov. 6, police said a South Carolina man answered a similar ad for work on the same southeast Ohio farm, but when he got to Ohio, he said two men pulled a gun on him and opened fire. He was shot in the arm, but escaped and notified authorities.

That's when investigators found the body of the Florida man buried in a shallow grave.

Last week, police arrested two suspects. One of them, police said, is a 16-year-old from Stow-Munroe Falls High School. He has been charged with attempted murder.

The teen's mother said the other suspect, 52-year-old Richard Beasley, was her son's mentor.

The teen's mom told WCPO sister station WEWS she can't imagine her son ever hurting anyone.

"I've never ever had that thought or fear and I don't know what the situation is. I've not really been able to talk to him without recordings, cameras and without an attorney. But I know one thing my son loves helping handicapped people, he loves helping elderly and he has a big heart."

The mother says Beasley was a longtime family friend, for more than 20 years. Her son will be back in court at the end of the month to answer to the charges.

The sheriff said it is unclear how long the ad had been online or whether there are other victims.

The wooded piece of land sits on the former site of a strip mine and is owned by a coal company and rented out to hunters. It is isolated, with no lights and only one-lane gravel roads running in and out.

"It's an ideal place to get rid of a body," said Don Warner, a rancher who lives nearby.

A judge issued a gag order in the case Friday.

Before the order was imposed, Sheriff Stephen Hannum said that the South Carolina victim was taken Nov. 6 to the desolate area, where he managed to deflect a gun cocked at the back of his head and ran. Wounded in the arm, he hid in the woods for hours, then showed up covered in blood at the first well-lighted place he could see, a farmhouse outside Caldwell, about 80 miles east of Columbus.

Cadaver dogs were brought in, and authorities found one hand-dug grave they believe was intended for the South Carolina man and a second grave that held the body of a Florida man.

The South Carolina man who escaped to a neighbor's house told the homeowner that he had answered an ad on Craigslist for a job and was told he would be erecting fences for a cattle farm. The woman said there is no farm of the size the man described nearby, with most of the surrounding countryside either woods or strip mines.

The man had been told to bring his belongings with him to Ohio because he would be living at the farm, the sheriff said. Investigators believe robbery was the motive.

A few days after the man went to the police, authorities received a call from the Florida man's sister, concerned that her brother had not been heard from for weeks. The sister said her brother had responded to what she believed was the same Craigslist ad, for a caretaker for cattle on a 688-acre farm.

"We brought in cadaver dogs thinking that a possibility that the person that was advertising on Craigslist and lured this guy down here may very well have lured someone else to the same area," the sheriff said. "Our hunch was correct."

Investigators have not disclosed the cause of the Florida man's death.

 

ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS of the Associated Press contributed to this story.

Copyright Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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