Authorities believe they’ve found the body of a North Carolina man who disappeared Saturday while trying to sell someone his Range Rover.
The Raleigh Police Department said in a statement that a body believed to be that of 39-year-old William Anderson Banks has been recovered in Virginia with the help of the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office.
The body has been taken to the medical examiner in Roanoke, where it will be positively identified.
Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman confirmed to that Justin Fernando Merritt, 34, has been charged with murder in connection with Banks’ death.
Merritt was initially arrested on Tuesday on charges of robbery, larceny of a motor vehicle and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon after allegedly “taking the vehicle that Mr. Banks had posted” for sale online, Freeman said.
Merritt is expected to appear in court on the murder charge Friday, Freeman said.
A 911 caller told a dispatcher that Banks had disappeared on Saturday after going to meet someone in the K&W Cafeteria parking lot at 2 p.m. to sell a silver Range Rover. The caller became concerned after he never returned, according to The News & Observer.
The vehicle was later found Monday afternoon in Danville, Virginia but there was no sign of Banks, police said.
A warrant was issued for Merritt’s arrest on Monday after authorities alleged he “unlawfully, willfully and feloniously did steal, take and carry away” Banks’ Range Rover, which had an estimated value of $15,250, according to warrants obtained by .
The warrant also alleged that Merritt “committed [the car theft] by means of an assault consisting of having in possession and threatening the use of a firearm” that caused Banks’ life to be “threatened and endangered.”
A second warrant said investigators believe Banks was killed Saturday, the same day he had arranged to meet the interested buyer.
“Andy would have gladly handed them the keys to that car if it meant he got to live,” Banks’ friend Cliff Cash told WTVD. “He would have done everything he could to talk his way out of it.”
Those who knew the 39-year-old described him as someone who loved to be with his friends, travel and live on his own terms.
“I think the legacy of Andy Banks is just a guy that really lived his life,” Cash told The News & Observer.
Friends said Banks had enjoyed buying and restoring old cars and then selling them after he had driven them for a while.
Bill Banks described his son to the paper as a “wonderful person” who didn’t have a “mean bone in his body” and had never been in an altercation with anyone.
“Andy was a super fine, loving, affectionate human being,” he said. “He had more friends than I ever dreamed of having, and they thought the world of him. They’re all completely devastated.”
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