Warrant: Missing Raleigh man was murdered in North Carolina, body likely found in Virginia

Local News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN/WFXR) — A Raleigh man who went missing last weekend after trying to sell his vehicle was murdered in Wake County before his body was likely dumped in a field in Virginia, according to a Wake County arrest warrant.

William “Andy” Banks, 39, was last seen Saturday, Sept. 12, after his family said he was meeting someone in the K&W Cafeteria parking lot at Cameron Village about selling his 2011 Silver Range Rover Sport.

Banks’ Range Rover was located in Danville on Monday, Sept. 14.

Justin Merritt. (Raleigh-Wake CCBI on Sept. 17, 2020)

Justin Fernando Merritt of Danville was arrested Monday in relation to the disappearance of Banks.

Merritt was charged with robbery, larceny of motor vehicle, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in connection with the stolen vehicle.

Merritt wasn’t served with those warrants until he was brought to Raleigh. The 34-year-old waived extradition early Tuesday, Sept. 15.

Raleigh police said Wednesday, Sept. 16, the disappearance of Banks was being investigated as a homicide.

According to Raleigh police, a body, likely that of Banks, was discovered in Virginia on Thursday, Sept. 17, with help from the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office. The Chatham Star Tribune reported the body was found on a farm on Beechnut Road in rural Chatham.

Public records show Merritt once lived on Dry Fork Road – which is around a mile from Beechnut Road. Beechnut Road is around 12 miles northwest of Danville.

Thursday afternoon, Merritt was charged with murder, arrest records show.

The arrest warrant obtained Friday, Sept. 18, says that the crime occurred in Wake County on Saturday, the last day Banks was heard from.

In court Wednesday, Wake County Judge Ned Mangum raised Merritt’s bond from $265,000 to $2 million. Wake County Detention Center records show Merritt is now being held without bond on the murder charge.

Wake County Assistant District Attorney Patrick LaTour said in court that Merritt came from Virginia “under the guise” of buying Banks’ SUV.

Andy Banks and his 2011 Range Rover

According to warrants for his arrest, Merritt used a firearm to threaten Banks’ life during the robbery.

“All of these charges relate to a situation here in Raleigh which the victim in this case is still unaccounted for. Law enforcement suspect further of these charges, foul play involved. I would ask you substantially the defendant’s bond increase bond,” said LaTour.

LaTour said Merritt has no ties to the Raleigh area, and physical evidence linked Merritt to the Range Rover.

“They spoke to several witnesses that corroborated at least that, and based on physical evidence that they have found within the car that they believe there to have been a dangerous weapon used in the taking of that automobile,” LaTour said.

There is zero evidence of criminal conduct by Banks, LaTour said.

Merritt was scheduled to appear in court again Oct. 7 at 9 a.m. However, he is now expected to appear before a Wake County judge on Friday following the murder charge.

The warrant released Friday morning does not say if the firearm Merritt was in possession of was used in Banks’ murder.

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