National News

Man accused of sending threats of rape to women online

Posted November 22, 2017 1:38 p.m. EST

— Police believe a man accused of sending violent threats of rape to women in St. Louis could have targeted others.

Robert Merkle, 48, is charged with two counts of harassment. Police say he messaged two women expressing desire for violent sexual fantasies.

One of the victims met him at a Meet Up group in the Central West End. Angela, who asked we not use her last name, met him in August at Dressel's. They sat at the same table during a discussion of current events.

In September, 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 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 police. She tried to get an order of protection because she was fearful of the violent nature of the messages, but was denied.

On November 17, police arrested and charged Merkle with harassment. On November 21, he bonded out.

Court records show he has two other protection orders against him, both in 2017. News 4 is working to find out more information on those.

Angela says she posted her experience on Facebook and has heard from other women who have received messages from him on a dating app.

Angela says he has used alias including, James, David and Rob. Police are urging others who might have experienced something similar to come forward.