Daughter of serial killer who hunted victims in woods speaks out
04/14/2016 11:48 am PDT
Richard Beasley was a preacher and self-proclaimed "son of God" who some claim has the soul of Satan -- a monster who has buried three innocent men after luring them into the Ohio wilderness.
He promised them a job. But he sent them to the grave.
Tonya's nightmare all began when her father places an innocent-looking ad on Craigslist. Richard Beasley says he's looking to hire a caretaker for his family's 688-acre cattle ranch in Ohio. But there is no ranch.
Still one by one they come: Ralph Geiger, 56; David Pauley, 51; and Timothy Kern, 47.
Each one travels down a dark secluded road with Richard Beasley and 16-year-old Brogan Rafferty, who Beasley calls his nephew. All of them are single men who want to work and live on 688 acres of land in Ohio feeding the cows. And none of them are ever seen alive again.
All their worldly possessions they brought along with them are sold off. With their money pocketed and their identity stolen, in some cases, by the serial-killing preacher man, Richard Beasley.
All three times Brogan Rafferty was along for the ride. He is not really Beasley's nephew, but a local who has a juvenile fixation with the Mafia. He is also very handy with a shovel and the eyewitness to Beasley's brutal murders.
He offered a chilling account of Timothy Kern's final moments:
"I heard a 'pop' and I turn around and Mr. Kern is on his knees kind of holding the side of his head, and Beasley is saying to him 'Are you all right?'" said Rafferty. "Beasley shot him again. I think he shot him three times in the head. The gentleman was still breathing, so Beasley went up and got the gun close to him and he shot him again. And I said 'He's still alive,' and he said 'His brain's dead, there's no way, he's got four bullets in his head and I put one between his eyes.'"
Once he is dead, like all of Beasley's victims they empty his wallet and bury him.
"The man literally I think had five dollars in his pocket," said Rafferty.
With Rafferty's confession, investigators turn to the only person who might possibly know where to find Beasley: His 17-year-old daughter Tonya.
"They kept asking me, 'Does your dad know anybody with a lot of land that would be remote enough for him to hide out at?' At the time I didn't realize they were looking for land because they found his Craigslist ad that mentioned a giant plot of land to take care of," said Tonya.
The agent takes a cellphone call in front of her.
"He was talking about someone finding another body," said Tonya. "I asked him, I don't know if he could tell me or not, but 'Is that related to my dad or not?' And he said yes. That's when it hit me: My dad wasn't just selling weed to some local high-schoolers, he was killing people."
Tonya was close to her dad growing up, and now lives with her mother Tina, who has been divorced from Beasley for years. Neither of them has any idea where he is staying.
But investigators finally trace the IP address on the Craigslist ad to a house in Akron, where Beasley had rented a room under the assumed name of "Ralph Geiger," his first victim.
Cops track him down through a cellphone number he left with the landlord and Beasley is taken into custody.
But for Tonya, the guilt sets in, and hits hard.
"I blamed myself for everything that happened because if I would have known he was using the Internet to do these things I wouldn't have shown him when he asked me about the Internet," said Tonya. "It was new technology to him, so of course I showed him all of these things. He had said he wanted to sell a few of his old things that he could no longer use, and i didn't think anything of it. I thought it would just help him make some side money."
As if on cue, Tonya gets a letter from her father in prison the very same day Crime Watch Daily visits her at home.
"I think he actually wants to confess, and he wrote me a letter this morning saying he's not mad at me anymore about going on the TV show and he has some things he wants to tell me, the truth, and I literally opened it right before I came here."
But the letter itself doesn't seem to a have lot to do with the truth.
"It actually says he didn't kill anybody," said Tonya. "'I did not kill anyone. I thought I was helping a friend and there is no physical evidence, no DNA, no fingerprints, nothing that says I killed anyone, it was all circumstantial evidence.'"
In his worst nightmare Scott Davis walks a silent, haunted road alone.
"I've had nothing but nightmares. It just keeps coming back and back and back."
The man standing in the middle of Scott's never-ending nightmare is Richard Beasley. He's holding a pistol that jammed with the first pull of the trigger.
It all begins with an innocent-looking ad on Craigslist: "Wanted, a caretaker for a farm, simply watch over six hundred and eighty eight acres of hilly farmland, feed the cows. You get three hundred dollars a week, older to elderly preferred but we consider all. Be on location is a must."
Even with free room and board it's not a job for everyone. But it sounds perfect to 49-year-old Scott Davis, currently running a small landscaping business in Woodruff, South Carolina. Plus it's not far from his mother who also lives in Ohio.
"I was actually looking forward to it. I love being in the country. I'm a country boy," said Davis. "There was plenty of hunting and fishing, and it sounded like a dream job to me."
The ad was placed by Richard Beasley, 52, an ex-convict and self-described street preacher living outside Akron.
After many emails and phone calls back and forth, Beasley tells Scott Davis the job is his for the taking. Davis loads up a trailer with everything he owns, and he heads off to rural Summit County, Ohio, about 100 miles south of Akron. There Davis meets Beasley and a tall young man, 16-year-old Brogan Rafferty.
A surveillance camera catches them at a local restaurant for breakfast. Davis parks his truck and trailer and climbs into brogan's old Buick for the long ride out to have a look at that 688-acre cattle ranch.
Along the way, Davis learns a little more about his host and future employer.
"He was continuously coming up that he was a preacher and a pastor and that he was always going to church with his nephew," said Davis.
But he left out the bad parts. Beasley has also served a combined 12 years in prison on separate charges of burglary and illegal firearms possession. Beasley is also carrying an Iver Johnson .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol with a seven-round clip -- not the most heavy-duty handgun in the world, but it can be lethal up close.
Later police will learn that Beasley has made this same journey three times on the very same road, far into the country with three separate men who answered his Craigslist ad: Ralph Geiger, 56; David Pauley, 51; and Timothy Kern, 47, none of whom came back alive.
Davis keeps his eyes open checking out the scenery as the men drive deeper into the country.
"I was thinking how far it was going to be from there to drive back and call my mom and let her know that I made it," said Davis.
Finally, Beasley signals Rafferty to stop the car.
"After Brogan dropped me and Richard off he got back in the car and Richard told him go up there and see what the road looks like up there," said Davis. "He told me he had stashed some equipment there in the woods so nobody would steal it."
But suddenly Beasley seems uncertain if he is in the right place.
"Said to me, 'Let's go another way, maybe I got the wrong spot,'" said Davis. "And I think one of the biggest mistakes of my life that I made that day was let somebody behind me, that's something I don't do. The hair just stood up on the back of my neck and I said, man something is definitely just went wrong, when I heard that click. I spun around immediately and when I spun around he already had that gun back up."
And Scott Davis is looking straight down the barrel and into Richard Beasley's eyes.
"I looked in his eyes and all I saw was coal. They were black eyes. They were just black like a shark in feeding water," said Davis. "It had to have jammed so that right there I should have hit the ground and that should have been the end of me. I turned around and when I did he shot me right in the elbow and shattered everything in there."
With the sudden rush of fear and adrenaline, he is barely even aware that he's been shot. He just wants to survive.
"At this point I was like, he's got a gun and I don't," said Davis. "So I got up and with my whole life I ran with all I had, I kept falling down and while I'm doing this he is continuously firing at me. I just kept running and falling and running and falling and he just kept popping shots at me.
"I kept hearing those shots ring one after the other and I was falling down, and when you hear 'pop, pop, pop,' you try to count in your head how many bullets does he have?" said Davis.
Scott Davis is now running for his life, and the terrifying manhunt is on.
"I don't know if I'm being hunted by dogs, by humans, at this point I don't know what's going on," said Davis. "All I know is I got somebody shooting at me. So I'm going down through the creek to lose -- if there was going to be any dogs I wanted to make sure that I ran to the creek so there wasn't going to be any scent of me there. I was trying to be careful with my blood there. I was looking at my blood leaking out into the stream."
He knows he is up against an experienced hunter, a man who knows the woods well, and that thought terrifies him more than anything.
"All the blood that I lost I'm thinking to myself I'll never see my mom again, and are they ever gonna find me, are they gonna get me," said Davis. "There are deer stands all through here. Am I gonna pop my head up and somebody gonna take my head off?"
Not only has he been shot by the man who promised to give him a job, now Davis is betrayed by nature itself as an angry squirrel threatens to reveal his hiding place in the creek bed.
"This little squirrel was ratting on me," said Davis. "Anybody that's a hunter or knows anything about animals will know that squirrels will rat you out. He just kept going 'teeteetee' and I was like 'Go on and get,' and if he would have been listening closely he would have known where I was. That squirrel was ratting me out, me and him had a go at it for a while, but he went away."
For seven torturous hours Davis hides in the creek. Finally he realizes he has to take his chances and seek help, or die right there. He gets to his feet and walks seven long miles until he sees a couple of houses in the distance.
"I finally get to this farm house," said Davis. "There was one closer and it was like I was being pushed, 'Don't go there,' and then I got pushed to the other side of the road to that farmhouse, and now I'm really nervous 'cause they are country folk and they had their bows sitting in back of the truck."
Davis moves to the second house and with all the strength he has left, he knocks politely on the door. A child opens the door.
"When he came to the door I said 'Is your dad home?' And he said no, wait a minute and I'll get my grandma, and she came to the door and I said I've been shot, could you please call the ambulance or sheriff for me," said Davis. "Eight guys came out of nowhere so fast it amazed me, they're just so country tight out here that everybody came and helped and got the police and the ambulance here.
"I just want to thank these people so much, and God bless them for what they did for me," said Davis.
Richard Beasley and his grave-digging accomplice, Brogan Rafferty, face the judge at their separate murder trials.
"Brogan Rafferty and Richard Beasley engaged in a cold-blooded systematic approach of executing three men and attempting to execute a fourth man," said Summit County Assistant Prosecutor Jon Baumoel.
Prosecutors get 17-year-old Brogan Rafferty in court first. He has already admitted his involvement to investigators on tape, and fingered Beasley in the murders, beginning with his first victim, Ralph Geiger.
Family and friends of the victims are also present in court.
"I was involved. I didn't like it. I wouldn't do it if I had any other choice," said Rafferty.
The jury isn't buying it, and he's found guilty. The judge isn't buying it either.
"Kid, you got dealt a lousy hand in life. But none of that is an excuse for murder," the judge said.
Rafferty is sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Armed with Rafferty's powerful testimony, prosecutors now go after Beasley to seek the death penalty.
Not only does Beasley claim his innocence, he says Scott Davis attacked him.
"I state here today officially and for the record: I have killed nobody, and that's a fact," said Beasley.
Scott Davis has a very direct response in court.
"I will be there if you get the death penalty, smiling with last words. You'll remember this face," Davis said.
Beasley is found guilty of the murders of Ralph Geiger, David Pauley and Timothy Kern, and for the attempted murder of Scott Davis. He gets the maximum sentence: the death sentence.
Scott Davis is a man of few words, but the prosecution can hardly say enough about him.
"Without Scott Davis I believe there would have been a lot more victims," said Baumoel. "I believe Beasley and Rafferty would have eventually been caught, but thankfully for Scott Davis he was caught much sooner, and I have to credit Scott Davis with most likely saving the lives of a lot of other men."
Today Scott Davis is trying his best to move on with his life.
You would think that the last person he wants to see is anyone remotely connected to his would-be killer. But we asked him if he would meet with Tonya, Beasley's daughter.
While Richard Beasley is appealing his death sentence from his prison cell, Tonya prepares to meet the man her father tried to kill.
In a letter to Tonya, her father has strongly warned her not to apologize to any victims or their families during her TV appearance on Crime Watch Daily.
"I'm very sorry for what my dad did, but I was amazed by your story and out of everything that happened, how you did it," Tonya says to Scott Davis. "I couldn't imagine what it would've been like to be in that situation. I just admire you."
"Let me tell you something, I don't blame you whatsoever for what your dad did," said Davis. "It was hell, literally, but you personally, I'm glad to see that you're strong enough to do this, and like I said, nothing personal whatsoever. God bless you and I wish you a great future."