Police: 4 robbed, beat man after luring him to York County motel

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

Four northeastern Pennsylvania residents now wanted by Fairview Township Police helped officers solve a violent robbery and assault on a would-be prostitution customer by calling attention to themselves less than three hours earlier, according to police allegations.

The same four were behind the robbery, police said. They are: Matthew J. Barber, 23; Stefan Marquise Saunders, 22; and Emily Ann Merth, 24, all of Wilkes-Barre, and Shade Kier Carrion, 24, of Tobyhanna, Monroe County.

Lewisberry-area District Judge Scott Gross has issued arrest warrants for all four, according to his office.

About 1:45 a.m. Saturday, Fairview Township Officer Josh Poplin was called to a parking lot along Limekiln Road, just off Interstate 83 near several motels, for a reported disturbance, police said.

There, he found the four defendants in a car. Merth told him they'd just arrived from Wilkes-Barre and that they had argued about money, according to charging documents.

Poplin saw part of a handgun poking out of a bag belonging to Saunders and determined that although the weapon was legal, Saunders did not have a concealed carry permit, documents state. The officer had Saunders lock the gun in the trunk of the Mercedes the four were riding in, police said.

Emily Ann Merth

Two guns: Barber also was in possession of a handgun, but Poplin determined the man has a concealed carry permit, police said. Poplin told Saunders he would be filing charges against him of carrying a firearm without a license, then let them go about 2:30 a.m., according to charging documents.

Less than two hours later, at 4:23 a.m., Fairview Township Police were called to the Super 8 Motel at 175 Beacon Hill Boulevard for the robbery and assault of a man who thought he was meeting a prostitute, documents state.

The man told investigating Officer Brandon Yeager that he met a woman online at skipthegames.com, an online site where escorts advertise for customers, police said.

He said he agreed to pay $200 to the escort, according to police.

Yeager reviewed motel security footage and saw that the four people involved in the armed robbery and beating were the same four people with whom Poplin had spoken just a couple hours earlier, charging documents state.

'Escort' let men in: Video shows Carrion knocking on the man's motel-room door then him letting her in, police said. A few minutes later, Merth also goes into the motel room but leaves after several minutes, allowing Barber and Saunders to go into the room, police allege.

Both Barber and Saunders were brandishing handguns, with Saunders pointing his at the man and demanding money and his wallet, documents state.

When the victim refused to hand over his wallet — which he had hidden under the mattress before letting the women in his room — Saunders began to beat him in the face until the wallet was found, according to charging documents.

The foursome took the wallet, which contained $200 and credit cards, and fled the motel, police said.

Prior robberies: Merth, formerly of York and Dauphin counties, has previously been charged in York and Lehigh counties with robberies, according to court records.

She has been charged with other crimes as well, including burglary, theft, criminal trespass and felony drug dealing, records state. In most of those cases, she pleaded guilty to lesser offenses.

Court records indicate that at just 24 years old, Mertz has already been accused of felony and misdemeanor crimes in York, Lancaster, Cumberland, Lehigh, Lackawanna and Luzerne counties.

Northern York County Regional Police arrested Merth for the Dec. 11, 2018, robbery of a man at the Econo Lodge motel on Arsenal Road in Manchester Township. In that robbery, Merth and a man forced their way inside the victim's room and stole more than $1,300 in cash from him, police said.

In 2014, Merth and two others were arrested by the Lackawanna County Drug Task Force after police there said Merth allegedly set up a drug deal to sell someone $400 worth of heroin but tried to rob the buyer instead, according to an article from The Citizens' Voice newspaper.

Anyone who knows the whereabouts of Merth, Saunders, Barber or Carrion can call 911.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

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