Robert Merkle, 53, was indicted by a federal jury Wednesday on threatening and cyberstalking charges. The St. Louis man previously terrorized numerous local women and spent two years in prison for cyberstalking and sending women rape threats.
Accused of three cyberstalking charges and two counts of transmitting a threat, Merkle could face up to 25 years in prison. Each of the five counts carries a penalty of up to 5 years in prison.
Merkle is accused of harassing one person in October and harassing four people in January. All of the victims in the indictment are from out of state.
Merkle was first arrested in 2017 and sentenced the following year to 12 years in prison for three felony and three misdemeanor harassment counts. However, he was allowed to serve the sentences simultaneously and was released on parole after serving two years and two months of a three-year sentence. He completed his parole in October 2021.
According to a motion filed in federal court aimed at keeping Merkle in jail before his new trial, he was allegedly already harassing women even before probation ended. In the summer of 2021, he harassed women both online and via text messages. He was arrested in January after he reportedly sent threats to a woman he'd dated years before.
The RFT's Doyle Murphy reported in 2020 about how Merkle found and harassed his victims.
One woman met him at a discussion group at Dressel's Public House in the Central West End. They barely spoke, but he later started stalking her through the Meetup app. When she didn't come to a subsequent meeting, he wrote her a message saying he was disappointed because he had planned to rape her "completely without your consent or desire," he wrote. "I much prefer it when women are extremely unwilling to perform sex acts with me."
KSDK reports that his October 2021 text messages contained threats such as:
- “have you ever been sexually assaulted”
- "This is an old friend"
- “I am thinking about breaking into your house and (expletive) your (expletive) brains out”
- “have you ever been (expletive) against your will?”
- “I would love to know your address"
- “I (expletive) and think about coming to your house some night really late, getting in, (expletive) you with no grace at all, and just start having really hard sex."
- “I like to (expletive) and think about coming to your house some night really late …"