COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The FBI used an email sent by a man later found buried in a shallow Ohio grave in a deadly Craigslist robbery scheme to trace his whereabouts, according to a Virginia pastor who knew him well.
David Pauley was excited about the job he’d accepted in southeastern Ohio, even though the details seemed a little fishy, said Kenny Bryant, senior pastor at the Tabernacle Church in Norfolk, Va.
The job, helping run a cattle farm, included a generous salary, a place to live and a vehicle, said Bryant, who found it odd his friend was offered the position after one phone call.
“It just didn’t sound right to me, but I was happy for him, and he was glad,” Bryant said Wednesday. “He was really pumped about it, and he was desperate for a job.”
Authorities say Pauley, 51, was killed Oct. 23 in Noble County, where his body was found on property owned by a coal company and often leased to hunters. The cattle ranch advertised on Craigslist doesn’t exist.
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.
A 16-year-old boy, Brogan Rafferty, of Stow, in northeast Ohio, 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 the teen says he participated in the crimes with Richard Beasley, a 52-year-old Akron resident said to have acted as his mentor.
Beasley was awaiting trial on prostitution and drug charges when authorities took him into custody this month, and police have said a halfway house he ran in Akron was a front for prostitution. He has not 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 or afterward as police hustled him away. His mother, Yvette Rafferty, said she was “praying for the families and the victims.”
Attorney Rhonda Kotnik, representing Beasley on the drug and prostitution charges, said Tuesday she wasn’t representing him in the Craigslist case, but she pointed out he hadn’t been charged in that.
Pauley had grown up in Norfolk, where his son, brother and ex-wife still live, Bryant said. He’d left for Ohio several years ago, then returned in the spring looking for work.
When he couldn’t get a job, he lived with his brother and helped Bryant build a youth facility on the church grounds. Eventually, he decided to return to Ohio.
“He didn’t want to go back to Ohio. He thought he could find something here,” Bryant said. “When he couldn’t find anything here he was ready to go back home.”
In mid-October, Pauley packed up his truck with all his belongings, including the model trains he collected, and drove to Ohio. He sent his brother an email after he arrived, then the family heard nothing more. The family contacted police, who contacted the FBI.
The FBI used the email to find an apartment or house in Ohio where agents found some of Pauley’s belongings and began to suspect foul play, Bryant said. He didn’t know further details, and the FBI did not immediately return messages Wednesday.
On Nov. 6, a South Carolina man, Scott Davis, told police in Noble County he’d survived a shooting after answering a Craigslist ad for work on a ranch.
On Nov. 11, Pauley’s twin sister contacted the county sheriff’s office to say she feared her brother had answered the same ad. That tip led authorities back to where Davis had been shot, and four days later they found Pauley’s body.
The family has been instructed not to talk about the case, Bryant said.
“They grieve. They’re very saddened by what has happened to their brother, but they know that there’s hope,” he said. “They know that they’ll be reunited with him again one day, and they’re trusting God fully to bring about his justice.”