DANVILLE, Va. (WRAL) – Police said Wednesday that foul play is suspected in the disappearance of a Raleigh man, and they are investigating the case as a homicide.
Andy Banks, 39, who was last seen Saturday afternoon in the Woodburn Road area near Cameron Village. Friends said he was meeting a potential Craigslist buyer outside a closed K&W Cafeteria about his silver 2011 Range Rover Sport.
After not hearing from him for several hours, his family called 911 on Saturday night to report him missing.
His cellphone was found along Interstate 40 in Raleigh on Sunday, and investigators determined the buyer’s phone was in Danville, Va.
Danville police found Banks’ SUV under a tarp parked behind a vacant building in town on Monday, an application for a search warrant states.
Justin Fernando Merritt, 34, who investigators believe was the SUV buyer, lives a few doors down from where the vehicle was found, according to the warrant application. He was arrested Tuesday and charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon, larceny of a motor vehicle and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in connection with the stolen vehicle.
During a search of his home, police seized a handgun, some ammunition, a knife, three phones, a pair of cargo pants and other items, according to the search warrant.
Merritt waived extradition and was returned to Wake County on Wednesday. During an initial court appearance, his bond was raised from $265,000 to $2 million after prosecutors cited his three previous felony convictions, including an assault in January.
Prosecutors also noted that Merritt is a person of interest in an ongoing missing person case, adding that they have no evidence of any criminal actions by Banks in the case.