53-year-old man who terrorized local women on dating apps charged with cyberstalking
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) — A 53-year-old man accused of threatening and harassing five people since 2021 was indicted by a grand jury on 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. They sat at the same table during a current affairs discussion. She didn’t participate in the same Meet-Up group, and a man named “Rob” messaged the group’s organizer asking about Angela. The organizer and Angela found this strange.
A few days later, Angela received a disturbing message via the Meet Up app from a man named “James”.
“It started with ‘I need to tell you I had violent sexual fantasies’ and it went on to describe the rape,” Angela said. The message mentioned the meeting at Dressel.
She said her first instinct was to ignore.
“Unfortunately I feel like the default for women, we get harassed a lot and you think to delete block the guy and move on and that was my first reaction,” she said.
But the mention of Dressel made him stop and relay the information to a police officer. Another message describing a violent sexual assault came a few days later. Meanwhile, her friend, who was on the same Meet Up chat, received a similar message from “Rob.”
“I am interested in female sexual response and the sexual performance of young Caucasian women under the age of 40 during specific non-consensual sexual acts,” the post reads.
Angela dug up and connected the profiles, giving all the information to the police. She tried to get a protective order because she feared the violent nature of the messages, but was refused. After working with SLMPD, charges were brought against Merkle.
Merkle pleaded guilty to multiple counts of misdemeanor and criminal harassment in both the city of St. Louis and Jefferson County. Together, all the cases could have meant up to 12 years in prison, but Judge Rex Burlison ordered the sentences to be served simultaneously, or in full, meaning he would serve three years behind bars.
Merkle was released from prison in October 2020. He completed his parole in October 2021. The last harassment charge was on Jan. 26, 2022, according to police. In 2022, Merkle faced a new stalking charge after he allegedly texted a woman that he had made a copy of her key to her city and country. residence and that he was going to break in and rape it.
Copyright 2022 KMOV. All rights reserved.