Man, 53, who terrorized local women on dating apps indicted for cyberstalking
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A 53-year-old man accused of threatening and cyberstalking five people since 2021 has been indicted by a grand jury Wednesday.
According to the indictment, Robert Merkle allegedly harassed four people in January and one person in October online. In 2017, he messaged two women expressing desires for violent sexual fantasies. One of the victims met him at a Meet Up group in the Central West End. Angela, who asked to remain anonymous, met him in August at Dressel’s. They sat at the same table during a discussion of current events. She didn’t attend the same Meet-Up group and a man named “Rob” messaged the group organizer asking about Angela. The organizer and Angela both found it strange.
Just days later, Angela received a disturbing message through the Meet Up app from a man named “James.”
“It started out with ‘I have the need to tell you I have been having sexually violent fantasies’ and it went on from there to describe rape,” Angela said. The message mentioned the Meet Up at Dressel’s.
She said her first instinct was to ignore.
“Unfortunately I feel like the default for women, we get harassment a lot of times and you think to delete. block the guy, and move on with life and that was my initial reaction,” she said.
But the mention of Dressel’s made her pause and relay the information to a police officer. Another message describing violent sexual assault came days later. Meanwhile, her friend, who was at the same Meet Up discussion, received a similar message from “Rob.”
“I’m interested in female sexual response and sexual performance by young Caucasian women under 40 during specific nonconsensual sex acts,” the message read.
Angela did some digging and connected the profiles, giving all the information to the police. She tried to get an order of protection because she was fearful of the violent nature of the messages, but was denied. After working with SLMPD, charges were filed against Merkle.
Merkle pleaded guilty to multiple counts of misdemeanor and felony harassment in both St. Louis City and Jefferson County. Together, all of the cases could have meant up to 12 years in prison, but Judge Rex Burlison ordered the sentences be run concurrently, or altogether, meaning he would serve three years behind bars.
Merkle was released from prison in October 2020. He completed his parole in October 2021. The latest charge of harassment happened on January 26, 2022, according to police. In 2022, Merkle was faced with a new charge of felony harassment after he allegedly texted a woman that he had made a copy of her key to her Town and Country. residence and that he was going to break in and rape her.
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