Investigators found a .22 caliber weapon that might have killed a Jackson Township man last year in the house of a Stow teenager charged in his murder.
Investigators found a .22-caliber pistol, similar to the weapon used to kill Timothy J. Kern, in the bedroom of a Stow teenager charged in the killing of Kern and two others who answered a Craigslist ad.
But while the semiautomatic pistol could have been used to kill Kern, investigators can’t prove it’s the murder weapon.
Two people — Brogran Rafferty, 17, of Stow, and Richard G. Beasley, 53, of Akron — are charged with killing Kern, 47, of Jackson Township, and two other men, and wounding a fourth man. Both face multiple counts of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, kidnapping and theft.
Rafferty’s trial began last week in Summit County Common Pleas Court. Prosecutors might wrap up their case Thursday.
Beasley is set for trial early next year.
Investigators believe Beasley used a help-wanted ad posted on Craigslist to lure victims.
Beasley then shot the victims, while Rafferty — who Beasley passed off as his nephew — helped by driving for the older man, digging graves for the victims and stealing from the victims, investigators contend.
Defense lawyers argue that Rafferty was threatened and manipulated by Beasley.
FBI agents testified Wednesday that they found the pistol inside a briefcase stashed behind a door in Rafferty’s bedroom.
A sawed-off shotgun, ammunition for the pistol, two knives and other items were in the case. Also found in the search of Rafferty’s house was property that belonged to David M. Pauley, 51, of Norfolk, Va., the second man who was killed.
Investigators conducted multiple searches last November as they worked to build a case against Rafferty and Beasley.
The investigation began Nov. 6 after Scott Davis, 48, a South Carolina man who grew up in Massillon, was shot in the right arm in Noble County. Davis told sheriff’s deputies he was shot by a man who hired him to be caretaker for a farm. Davis said he found the job on Craigslist.
Within days investigators learned others had applied for the caretaker’s job and at least two of the men — Pauley and Kern — were missing.
Nine days later after Davis was shot by Beasley, investigators searching the Noble County shooting site found Pauley’s body in a shallow gave.
Rafferty and Beasley were arrested Nov. 16. It wasn’t until Nov. 25 that investigators found the body of Ralph Geiger, a 56-year-old Akron man, buried in Noble County, and Kern’s body was buried in woods near Rolling Acres Mall in Akron.
Investigators believe Geiger was killed Aug. 9 2011, and that Beasley began using Geiger’s identity.
Kern was killed Nov. 13, the day he left to meet his new employer, investigators believe. He was shot four times in the head.
Page 2 of 2 - TESTS INCONCLUSIVE
The weapon that could have been used to kill Kern was found Nov. 16.
Jonathan Gardner, a weapons expert with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, tested the pistol and compared the bullets with the slugs removed from Kern’s head.
Gardner said the bullets that killed Kern had “classic characteristics” indicating they were fired from a .22 caliber weapon. But the slugs were damaged after hitting Kern.
“I cannot conclusively confirm that those bullets came from that gun,” Gardner said responding to a question from defense lawyer Ed Smith.
Tests also showed that Kern was the only victim shot with a .22-caliber weapon.
Davis was hit by a .32 caliber slug and Geiger was killed by a .38 caliber slug, Gardner said. The slug taken from Pauley was distorted and could have been a .32 or a .38 caliber bullet, Gardner said.