A teenager, who has been accused of assisting with a series of murders related to a bogus craigslist ad, appeared in juvenile court on Tuesday and faced further charges from prosecutors.
Brogan Rafferty, a 16-year-old high-school junior, was arrested on Nov.16 for having connections in a plot that lured single, divorced men to remote parts of Ohio through a craigslist job ad before murdering them. Rafferty is thought to have assisted Rich Beasley, a 52-year-old unpaid pastor, who is also a suspect in the case.
On Tuesday, Rafferty made his first public court appearance where he faced 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 Associated Press reported.
Rafferty was initially just charged with having involvement with the shooting of Scott Davis from South Carolina.
The court appearance only lasted three minutes because Rafferty's father was not present and had not been given proper notice of the new charges the teenager was faced with. The next hearing is likely to take place in a couple of weeks, The AP reported.
Rafferty, who appeared in court with shackles, did not speak throughout the hearing and looked stunned, the Akron Beacon Journal reported. His mother, who sat behind him in the courtroom rocking back and forth, had previously told ABC news that her son was innocent and had been manipulated by the pastor.
She told Good Morning America that her son had looked up to Beasley as a mentor. For 10 years now he's been taking the church and Bible studies ... I know one thing, my son told me that he didn't do it. And I believe it. There is a monster here. But it's not my son, she said.
One victim from the craigslist plot, Timothy Kern, 47, was found dead last Friday and buried near Akron, Ohio.
Another victim, David Pauley, 51, was called back after answering the ad and told to bring all of his possessions. A week later, police found Pauley dead in a rural area of Noble County, 90 miles from Akron. A third body was found an hour after Kern's in a hand-dug grave. The body has not yet been identified. All three men were reportedly divorced.
Davis had also been lured into the woods in Noble County. However, after he was shot in the elbow, he managed to trek two miles to call for help and fled his attackers. Police later found a shallow hand-dug grave that they believe was intended for Davis.
All the men who answered the ad were told to bring their possessions. Police believe the prime intent of the murderers was to rob and shoot the victims. But with unemployed men as the target of the robbery, investigators believe there could be more to the story.
According to former special FBI agent, Brad Garrett, there could be a sexual component to the killing or a dynamic similar to the D.C sniper case, in which a 16-year-old was manipulated into randomly targeting people. I can't buy that it was just robbery, he told ABC News.
Investigators will be looking into the dynamic of the relationship between the 16-year-old and Beasley, focusing on when it started and how it has evolved in and out of the church.
I believe he put his trust in someone in ... he's a very smart kid but sometimes when you're not seeing the whole picture, you just believe ... that that person is going to lead you in the right way, the Rafferty's mother told ABC News.
Rafferty has been charged with attempted murder in the case of Scott David with court papers saying the teenager assisted Beasley in the murder. Beasley has not yet been charged in the Craigslist killings but is in jail on unrelated charges.