What Craigslist Killings Say About White Men

Both killers and victims were clinging to love outside of family
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2013 5:45 PM CDT
What Craigslist Killings Tell Us About Family
FILE In this Oct. 15, 2012 photo, Brogan Rafferty waits to be taken from the courtroom of Judge Lynn S. Callahan in the Summit County Courthouse during the lunch break in his trial in Akron, Ohio. Rafferty, 17, was sentenced Friday, Nov. 9, 2012 to life in prison with no chance for parole for his role...   (AP Photo/Akron Beacon Journal, Ed Suba Jr., Pool)

The Ohio "Craigslist murders" may be old news, but what they teach us about America is still heartbreaking. Two years ago, Richard Beasley and his teenage accomplice Brogan Rafferty were arrested for luring Craigslist job-hunters into rural areas and killing them. In an extensive Atlantic article, Hanna Rosin looks at their lives and the lives of their victims. What she expected to find: a world of isolated, underemployed, working-class men who turned to murder or became easy victims. After all, "at what other moment in history would it have been plausible for a serial killer to identify middle-aged white men as his most vulnerable targets?"

Instead, she found working-class men clinging to relationships as they lost touch with traditional family structure. One victim was a divorced dad who talked to a friend by walkie-talkie dozens of times a day; another, also divorced, nurtured a tender relationship with his two sons ("All day, texting, every day," his ex says). Even Beasley had a father-son-like relationship with Rafferty, who was trying to escape the strict rules imposed by his dad. "Christians often talk about a 'God-shaped hole,' a need inside us that can be filled only by faith," writes Rosin. "Perhaps we share a 'family-shaped hole.'" With old structures receding, some men are creating "improvised families [that] can prove more intense because they are formed under duress." Click for Rosin's full piece. (More Craigslist killer stories.)

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