Former Costilla County Sheriff’s Office employee added as defendant in Vermont murder-for-hire case

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Posted at 1:10 PM, Oct 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-06 15:10:04-04

DENVER — A Colorado man is facing life in prison for his alleged participation in a murder-for-hire conspiracy case pending in federal court in Vermont.

Jerry Banks, 34, of Fort Garland, Colorado, is accused of the 2018 kidnapping and killing of Gregory Davis, 49, of Danville, Vermont, whose body was found by the side of the road in Barnet, federal court records say.

Banks was arrested April 6 in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, where he was working, the Vermont office of the United States attorney said in a press release. Banks is a former Costilla County Sheriff’s Office employee, working in the office between Aug. 15, 2017, and Feb. 14, 2018, the Denver Post reported.

Banks had only been charged with kidnapping, but on Wednesday, the Vermont office of the U.S. Attorney said in a news release that Banks was now being added as a defendant to the murder-for-hire conspiracy case already pending against Serhat Gumrukcu, 39, of Los Angeles, and Berk Eratay, 36, of Las Vegas.

According to the affidavit, Banks arrived at Davis’s Danville home on the evening of Jan. 6, 2018, posing as a U.S. Marshal claiming to have a warrant for his arrest. The victim was found dead the next day in a snowbank on a Barnet, Vermont road several miles from his home.

FBI investigators used cell phone and automobile records to link Banks to the 2018 kidnapping.

Gumrukcu and Eratay were involved in a business dispute with the victim Davis at the time of his death and the pair allegedly contracted with Banks to murder Davis, according to the news release. Court records allege that Eratay paid a third party, Aron Ethridge, over $100,000 to murder the 49-year-old Vermont man.

Gumrukcu and Eratay were arrested in May of this year and indicted by a grand jury with conspiring in a murder-for-hire scheme. Gumrukcu was arraigned on the murder-for-hire conspiracy charge Wednesday in court. Last week, a judge denied Eratay’s request to be released from custody pending trial.

Ethridge has already pleaded guilty to hiring Banks to murder Davis and conspiring to kidnap Davis, federal prosecutors reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report