by Sam Levin
Update: Nine months after Yates' arrest, a psychologist determined that his mental deficiencies “impaired his ability to knowingly waive his constitutional rights," leading St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly to drop the charges. An ensuing federal lawsuit accused police of coercing the teen to confess. St. Clare settled the lawsuit for $900,000 in September 2015, and you can read more about that here.
Our original coverage continues below:
More Craigslist users in Belleville, Illinos, are up to no good — and this time someone got hurt.
The St. Clair County Sheriff's Office announced yesterday that it had made two arrests in a disturbing Craigslist scheme in which two teen suspects allegedly lured a female victim to meet them under false pretenses and then attacked and robbed her. Trevon Yates, a seventeen-year-old East St. Louis, Illinois, resident, and an unnamed sixteen-year-old minor are both facing felony charges of armed robbery.
On Monday, August 12, at around 9 p.m., Kevin Kocurek, a deputy with the sheriff's office, was called to the 200 block of Bradford Place in unincorporated Belleville to respond to an armed robbery. When he arrived, officials say, a female victim told him that she was responding to a Craigslist ad for an iPhone — but that the sale did not go as planned.
She had apparently called the phone number listed in the ad earlier and the seller responded that she should not call — only send text messages.
After several texts, they negotiated a selling price and determined a location to make the sale, police say. The victim, with her boyfriend, drove to Bradford Place in Belleville and when they arrived two males appeared from behind a building and approached their car.
One of them explained that he was the individual from the text messages — and that he wanted more money. Another then pulled out a black handgun and demanded all of their money and cell phones. At this point, police say, he reached through an open car window and struck her in the head with the handgun.
The suspects took both of their money and her boyfriend's cellphone and fled on foot, cops say.
Yates is currently in custody at the St. Clair County Jail with bond set at $500,000 and the minor is being held at the St. Clair County Juvenile Detention Center.
A news release announcing the arrests says:
Sheriff Richard Watson wants to remind the public to use extreme caution when making arrangements to make on-line purchases. Make sure the meeting place is in a well lit public place and be aware of your surroundings.
In April, we reported on an even more violent Craigslist scam assault in the city of St. Louis — in which three victims faced gunshots. One was hit multiple times in the face and back.