Positive Identification Made in Missing Person Investigation

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Donna-maria Harris | 919.996.1200 | donna-maria.harris@raleighnc.gov
Laura Hourigan | 919.996.1219 | laura.hourigan@raleighnc.gov


The body of William Anthony Banks Jr. has been positively identified. Banks was the subject in a week-long missing person investigation.

On September 17, 2020, Raleigh Police Departments detectives charged Justin Fernando Merritt, 34, of Danville, VA, with murder in connection with the homicide of Banks. The arrest warrant was served at the Wake County Justice Center, where Merritt is currently being held. Murder is a Class A felony in North Carolina punishable by death or life imprisonment without parole.

Banks was reported missing on September 12 after, he agreed to meet someone in Raleigh to sell a vehicle that he had posted on Craigslist. “Mr. Banks did everything right,” said RPD Homicide Captain Andy Murr. “He arranged to meet in a public place during daylight hours. The suspect in this case had ulterior motives that led to the tragic death of Mr. Banks.”

“We know this arrest will not ease the pain the family and friends of Mr. Banks are experiencing with the loss of their loved one,” said Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown. “We do, however, hope that they will gain some measure of comfort with this arrest.”

The Raleigh Police Department worked in conjunction with Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office, Danville Police Department, Virginia State Police, Pittsylvania Public Safety, Danville Commonwealth Attorney Office, and the Wake County District Attorney’s Office to share information during the investigation and bring charges against Merritt. The investigation is still active.

Referencing the collaborative work between the law enforcement agencies, Chief Deck-Brown added, “We appreciate their continued support and cooperation. It was a united effort, and diligent, thorough investigation and follow-up by all personnel from each agency that led to this moment.”

*Media note - Now that an arrest has been made, the focus turns to Merritt’s prosecution, which is led by the Wake County District Attorney’s Office. As such, this is the last release RPD plans to issue on this incident.