baxter

Investigator Baxter shows the Star-Tribune the exact location where Andy Banks's remains were found today.

Updated court records show that Justin Fernando Merritt, 34, has been charged with felony murder in Wake County, North Carolina. 

Clerk personnel in the Wake County Clerk of Court's office were able to confirm that Merritt is charged with the murder of William "Andy" Banks. 

Thursday afternoon, search parties of Raleigh Police Department officers and Pittsylvania County Sheriff's Department deputies found the remains of Banks on the side of Irish Road in Chatham in the 3800 block. 

Danville Police reported Merritt was arrested Tuesday for being found in possession of a stolen vehicle and is facing additional charges of larceny of a motor vehicle, armed robbery and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. 

Merritt has a court appearance scheduled in Wake County court Friday morning for the charge of felony murder. 

This story will be updated as more information becomes available. 

Update 9/17:

Pittsylvania County Sheriff's Office Investigator Rick Baxter this afternoon exclusively showed the Star-Tribune the exact location where Raleigh and Pittsylvania Police together found the body of William "Andy" Banks.

Baxter and his team found the body at 3800 Irish Road in Chatham.

The remains were found laying in the tall grass.

Banks's body is being transported to Roanoke Memorial Hospital for an autopsy, Baxter said.

Update 3:20 p.m.:

Sources confirmed to the Star-Tribune this afternoon that the remains of 39-year-old Raleigh man William "Andy" Banks were found by investigators on Beechnut Road in rural Chatham.

"It was Raleigh detectives who came up to our door, walking our farm," a local resident told the Star-Tribune. "They said they were looking for him [Banks] and asked if we saw his [2011 Range Rover] on Saturday."

This local resident owns the property searched today by Raleigh detectives. She reported seeing 30 Raleigh police units around her Beechnut Road property this morning.

"They said they would bring cadaver dogs by later when it stopped raining," the local resident continued. "But then they came by and said, 'Just wanted to let you know we found him, thank you.'"

Investigators reportedly used geo-location to triangulate a cell phone involved in this case, and it pinged for 20 minutes around the local resident's property.

Raleigh Police in conjunction with the Virginia DOT blocked off Route 703 by Beechnut Road this afternoon with flares sending warning smoke into the air.

Update Sept. 17 1:29 p.m.:

Police today are treating the disappearance of William "Andy" Banks as a homicide.

Tuesday, Danville police arrested Danville man Justin Fernando Merritt, 34, on charges of robbery, larceny of motor vehicle and possession of a firearm by convicted felon in connection with the stolen vehicle. 

Banks's silver 2011 Range Rover SUV was reportedly under a tarp in a vacant building on Merritt's street.

Police reportedly found Merritt in possession of the SUV, along with an illegally-obtained handgun, ammunition, three cell phones and two spent shell casings.

According to WNCN in Raleigh, prosecutors said there was zero evidence of criminal conduct by Banks.

Merritt said he intends on hiring his own lawyer, according to WNCN. Judge Ned Mangum raised Merritt’s bond from $265,000 to $2 million.

This afternoon, a Star-Tribune reporter located five Raleigh Police Department vehicles in the parking lot of Vandola Baptist Church in Pittsylvania County.

The Raleigh Police Department could not confirm why the officers were in this location, but could confirm that investigation of the Banks case remains ongoing.

Update Sept. 16:

Justin Fernando Merritt, 34, of Danville, was arrested today in connection with the disappearance of William "Andy" Banks out of Raleigh Saturday afternoon.

Merritt is currently in the Danville City Jail, but reports say he will be extradited to Raleigh.

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

Danville policed confirmed to the Star-Tribune yesterday that they were assisting in the search for Banks after he went missing in Raleigh, and leads placed his car and cell phone in the Danville area.

Later yesterday, CBS17 reported DPD found Banks's car in Danville.

Banks has yet to be found and the investigation is ongoing.

Original story Sept. 15:

The Raleigh, North Carolina, police department reported 39-year-old William "Andy" Banks missing Saturday and is asking for the public's help to locate him.

Banks was last seen around 2 p.m. Saturday in Raleigh, in the Cameron Village area, an upscale shopping and residential district.

"He met two people from Craigslist to try and sell his car," friend Amanda Finch told the Star-Tribune this morning. "He hasn’t been seen or heard from since."

Banks is blond and 6 feet tall, last seen wearing blue Patagonia shorts, a gray shirt with a picture of a mountain on the front and flip flops.

A respondent to Finch's Facebook post about Banks's disappearance reported seeing his silver 2012 Range Rover off the U.S. 29 bypass in Blairs, by the stop sign, with the lights turned off.

"I didn't think much of it, except that was a weird spot to leave a range rover," the respondent said.

The last sighting of his car was last night around 8:30 p.m.

Banks's cell phone was also found on North Carolina interstate 440 heading west from Raleigh toward Danville.

"We have friends that are tech people," Finch said. "They were able to look through Andy's messages through a cloud on his laptop that was at home. They were able to find out that the phone number they were using to text Andy was a burner phone."

The burner phone was reportedly last pinged in Danville.

Anyone with information about this case or who sees Banks should call the Raleigh Police Department at 919-996-3335.

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