ST. LOUIS — A federal judge Thursday afternoon accepted a guilty plea in a case of cyberstalking from a man accused of harassing five women online across the country.
Robert Merkle, 55, is now expected to be sentenced for those crimes on June 21.
Federal prosecutors issued their indictment on August 11, 2022. Merkle has been in jail since then. In a motion obtained by the 5 On Your Side I-Team, prosecutors alleged Merkle sent threatening messages to one of the women from June 2021 until January 2022.
Messages dating to October 2021 to a woman, identified only by her initials, include:
- “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?”
Messages from June 2021 to another victim include:
- “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’d love to know your address.”
- “I like to (expletive) and think about coming to your house some night really late."
Merkle sent similar text messages or emails threatening rape to the three other victims listed in the indictment, according to federal prosecutors.
Police said Merkle sent those texts after he completed an earlier sentence for harassment, which started in 2017.
As part of a plea deal in 2018, he served two years of a three-year sentence. He was then released on parole, which he completed in October 2021.
Before he was federally indicted, Merkle also faced a charge in St. Louis County. In that case, he was accused of contacting a former partner claiming he had a key to her home and that he planned to break in and rape her. A spokesperson for the St. Louis County Prosecutor's Office said that case is still pending.
When she contacted police, Merkle allegedly told her to stop calling them, according to court documents.
The victims in Merkle’s federal indictment are from out-of-state.
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