Raleigh missing man case now a homicide investigation

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Raleigh police said a missing man investigation is now being treated as a homicide.

On Wednesday, Raleigh police said foul play is suspected in the disappearance of William “Andy” Banks.

Banks, 39, was last seen Saturday afternoon after his family said he was meeting someone in the K&W Cafeteria parking lot at Cameron Village about selling his 2011 Silver Range Rover Sport.

Banks’ Range Rover was located in Danville on Monday

Justin Fernando Merritt, of Danville, Virginia was arrested Monday in relation to the disappearance of Banks.

Merritt was charged with robbery, larceny of motor vehicle, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in connection with the stolen vehicle.

Merritt wasn’t served with those warrants until he was brought to Raleigh. The 34-year-old waived extradition early Tuesday.

In court, Wake County Assistant District Attorney Patrick LaTour said Merritt came from Virginia “under the guise” of buying Banks’ SUV.

According to warrants for his arrest, Merritt used a firearm to threaten Banks’ life during the robbery.

“All of these charges relate to a situation here in Raleigh which the victim in this case is still unaccounted for.  Law enforcement suspect further of these charges, foul play involved. I would ask you substantially the defendant’s bond increase bond,” said LaTour.

LaTour said Merritt has no ties to the Raleigh area, and physical evidence linked Merritt to the Range Rover.

“They spoke to several witnesses that corroborated at least that, and based on physical evidence that they have found within the car that they believe there to have been a dangerous weapon used in the taking of that automobile,” LaTour said.

LaTour asked Wake County Judge Ned Mangum to also consider Merritt’s three previous felony convictions when considering his bond.  

“The defendant has prior criminal convictions that I think are important and enlightening for the court when considering the defendant’s bond,” LaTour said.

Merritt has three previous felony convictions – including illegal use of a firearm and burglary.

The attorney representing Merritt in court Wednesday objected to raising his bond, saying it was already high for the charges he’s currently facing.

Mangum raised Merritt’s bond from $265,000 to $2 million.

There is zero evidence of criminal conduct by Banks, LaTour said.

He is scheduled to appear in court again Oct. 7 at 9 a.m.

While Banks’ disappearance is now a homicide investigation – no additional charges have been filed in the case.

Anyone with information on his disappearance is asked to call 911.

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