A south city man accused of sending rape threats to several women online has been released on bond.
Since the I-Team first reported Robert Merkle's arrest on Monday, several women have reached out to us to say they too have been victims of Merkle's harassment. Many are in the process of filing police reports.
Merkle was arrested last week on two counts of harassment. One victim named in the charges told the I-Team she barely remembers meeting Merkle at a MeetUp.com event. He then began messaging her about his desire to violently rape her.
Another woman from Jefferson County, who met Merkle on a dating website last November, says she was scheduled to meet up with him, but got a bad feeling at the last minute.
"I was sitting in the parking lot waiting for him. And he was late. He became increasingly aggressive with me in text messages. Picked up the phone and he was yelling at me. So I chose not to meet him," said the woman. She asked we not use her name out of fear for her safety.
Despite never meeting, she says Merkle almost immediately began sending her messages threatening violence.
"First it was just name calling. It progressed to him telling me about sexual fantasies. He always added additional details about me that I had never told him and were not available on the dating website. He started using fictitious phone numbers," said the woman.
Earlier this month, she claims he even called her son looking for her.
"This is beyond the point of terrorizing someone," said the woman.
The I-Team has been contacted by several other women with similar stories. One Metro East woman says she exchanged a few normal messages with Merkle before the threats began. She says he somehow found out her last name, and even her address.
In Missouri and Illinois, the I-Team found three orders of protection against Merkle, all from this year. One appears to be filed by a former girlfriend.
In 2013, Merkle was arrested for domestic violence and rape in St Louis County. The victim was his wife.
A former employer, NetEffects, was made aware of Merkle's online behavior in June and sought to distance itself from him with a post on its Facebook page.
Over the last year, many of the women say they tried several times to get the police involved.
"I was completely disregarded," said the Jefferson County woman.
But she says it was news of his recent arrest that gave her the courage to try and tell her story once again. This time she was heard. She says she's filed a report with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.
"I literally crumbled to the ground at work, publicly. If it weren't for [the first victim] saying 'enough is enough, I know there are other women,' I wouldn't be sitting here. He is a predator and unless everyone makes a police report, he is always going to get away with it," said the woman.
Merkle was released on a $2,000 bond Tuesday.
We've had several women confirm to us that they've filed complaints against Merkle with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, as well as the Kirkwood Police Department.
Anyone who feels they were harassed by Merkle is advised to contact the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office or their local law enforcement agency.