Andy Banks Update: Suspect Charged With Murder After Body Found


A suspect previously charged in the disappearance of William "Andy" Banks Jr. has now been charged with murder.

Justin Fernando Merritt, 34, was charged with robbery, larceny of motor vehicle and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon on Tuesday, before receiving an additional charge for murder on Thursday night, ABC 11 reports.

A body believed to be Banks, who was reported missing on Saturday, was found in Virginia on Thursday, Raleigh Police announced via ABC 11.

The disappearance of Banks, 39, was ruled as a homicide investigation on Wednesday. The Raleigh Police Department announced it suspected foul play was involved in the case earlier this week.

Banks was reportedly last seen in the area of the upscale shopping and residential district, Cameron Village, at around 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, where he intended was meeting with a man reportedly interested in buying his 2011 Range Rover, the Chatham Star-Tribune reports.

Banks' silver 2011 Range Rover was found Monday afternoon in Danvile, Virginia, one day prior to Merritt's arrest.

Amanda Finch, a friend of Banks, told the Star Tribune he was reportedly meeting with two individuals interested in purchasing his car on Craigslist prior to his disappearance.

"He met two people from Craigslist to try and sell his car," Finch told the Star-Tribune Monday. "He hasn’t been seen or heard from since."

Banks is described as being 6'0" and having blond hair. He was reportedly last seen wearing blue Patagonia shorts, a gray shirt with a picture of a mountain on the front and flip flops, according to the Star-Tribune.

Finch shared a post regarding Banks' disappearance on her Facebook page. An individual responded to the post prior to Merritt's arrest, claiming to have seen Banks' Range Rover off the U.S. 29 bypass in Blairs by a stop sign with its lights turned off, the Star-Tribune reports.

"I didn't think much of it, except that was a weird spot to leave a Range Rover," the individual posted on Facebook, the Star-Tribune reports.

Banks' cell phone was also reportedly spotted on Interstate 440 West between Raleigh and Danville, according to the Star-Tribune.

Finch told the Star-Tribune that friends described as "tech people" were able to view Banks' messages through a cloud on his laptop and found that the phone number used in the Craigslist transaction discussions was a burner phone reportedly last pinged in Danville.

Anyone with information regarding Banks' disappearance or his current location is asked to contact Raleigh Police at (919)-996-3335.

Photo: Raleigh Police Protective Association