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Cops: Fake 911 call helped unravel Vermont murder-for-hire

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Posted at 5:32 PM, Oct 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-05 20:32:27-04

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A Los Angeles biotech investor is back in Vermont, where he is facing a murder-for-hire charge for his alleged role in the 2018 kidnapping and death of a Danville man.

Serhat Gumrukcu pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a charge for his role in the death of Gregory Davis, who was taken from his home and later found shot.

Four years ago, Davis' body was found in the snow on the side of a road in Vermont.

As investigators worked to unravel the mystery of what happened to Davis, a fake 911 call may have been the key to helping solve the case.

Three years prior to being killed, the then 49-year-old moved to Danville, Vermont, with his wife and their six children.

While in Vermont, Davis worked for an environmental waste cleanup company while also being involved in some investment ventures, court records and his work history indicated.

But Davis' life would come to a tragic end when on Jan. 6, 2018, a masked man wearing a jacket with a U.S. Marshals emblem knocked on Davis' door.

The man said he had a warrant for Davis' arrest for racketeering, so they went away together.

That was the last time his family saw him.

The next day, Davis' handcuffed, bullet-riddled body was found.

As police investigated the incident, they found that 15 minutes prior to his kidnapping, someone called 911 a mile from Davis' residence to report that he'd shot his wife and was going to kill himself.

Court documents show that within hours of his death, detectives began focusing on their investigation of the business relationship between Gumrukcu and Davis, who were engaged in a potentially lucrative yet troubled oil deal.

In a text message a month before he died, Davis told a middleman that he wanted out of the oil deal, along with a settlement of $980,000.

During the course of what prosecutors dubbed a "long covert stage," investigators began working to solve a puzzle that reportedly began with the 911 call made with a phone purchased at a Walmart by Jerry Banks, who is also accused of killing Davis.

As they began putting the pieces together, they discovered a link between the four suspects: Banks was friends with Aron Lee Ethridge, who was friends with Berk Eratay, who worked for Gumrukcu.

Eratay was arraigned on July 29 in federal court.

Banks has also been charged in the case.

Ethridge, who has already pleaded guilty, admitted that he hired Banks to kidnap and kill Davis.

If convicted, Gumrukcu, Eratay, and Banks could be sentenced to life in prison.