A Virginia man is facing murder charges after police found the body of a man they believe is Andy Banks.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Banks vanished on September 12 from Raleigh, after arranging to meet someone outside the now-closed K&W Cafeteria, to sell his 2011 Range Rover. Earlier this week, authorities arrested Justin Merritt, 34, in Danville, and charged him with numerous felonies in connection with Banks’ vehicle.
Authorities found Banks’ cellphone off of Interstate 40 in Raleigh on Sunday, WRAL reports. Cellphone records indicate that the phone of the person Banks was supposed to meet was from the Danville, Virginia, area.
On Monday, police found Banks’ SUV under a tarp behind an abandoned building in Danville. According to an arrest warrant, Merritt lives a couple of houses down from the abandoned building. Police obtained a search warrant for Merritt’s home and found numerous items of evidence.
Police subsequently charged Merritt with robbery, larceny of a motor vehicle, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
On Thursday, authorities found a deceased male’s body in a rural area of Pittsylvania County, Virginia. The Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office said the body will be sent to a coroner in Roanoke for identification, but they strongly believe it to be Banks.
Fox 8 reports that authorities have now upgraded Merritt’s charges to include felony murder.
According to Wake County Assistant District Attorney Patrick LaTour, Merritt lured Banks into meeting him by saying he was interested in buying Banks’ Range Rover. LaTour added that Merritt has no ties to Raleigh but physical evidence linked him to Banks’ vehicle.
Further, Merritt once lived in an area around a mile away from where authorities found what they believe to be Bankss’ body.
Merritt remains behind bars without bond.
Check back for updates.
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[Feature Photo: Andy Banks/Police Handout]