Florida

They thought ex-roommate stole their PlayStation 4 — so they lured him to his death, cops say

A 24-year-old Florida man was stabbed to death by his two former roommates because one of them was “aggravated” that he may have stolen a PlayStation 4 video game console from the Central Florida home they had shared, Seminole County cops say.

According to a press conference held Tuesday by Sheriff Dennis Lemma of the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, Jake Bilotta, 22, and Ian McClurg, 21, lured their former roommate, later identified as Joshua Barnes, to the home in an unincorporated area near Maitland just before midnight Monday night. They had sent him several texts, investigators said.

“Jake and Ian had a conversation about a potential burglary that had occurred a few days earlier,” Lemma said. “They believed that the victim had broken back into the home in an effort to burglarize it and take the PlayStation 4. That really aggravated Jake.”

Lemma said the pair enticed the victim back to the house on the pretense that they would all go to a party.

But they had other plans, investigators said.

When Barnes arrived at the front door, “Jake met the individual armed with a seven-inch chef’s knife with an aggressive blade — a steak knife — got him into the house and stabbed him multiple times,” Lemma said at the press conference. The department posted video of the conference on its Facebook page.

Just after the stabbing, Bilotta and McClurg’s current roommate, Walter Johnson, returned from a Tinder date, walked into the house, and saw McClurg with the knife in his hand and Jake in the process of placing Barnes’ body inside plastic garbage bags, Lemma said.

Johnson ran back to the car in front of the house, which was still occupied by his date, and called 911. McClurg had barricaded himself in one of the home’s bathrooms. Bilotta fled but was captured with the assistance of the Altamonte Springs Police Department, Lemma said.

A mop and duct tape were near the body when officers arrived at the house, investigators said.

“They planned to kill him and put him in plastic bags and bury him,” Lemma said, adding, “they lured him back there for revenge.”

According to investigators, Barnes had lived with Bilotta and McClurgh for about two weeks before he was evicted earlier this month by Bilotta and McClurg for an unspecified reason. Johnson then moved into the house about a week afterward.

Investigators also found drugs inside the house but would not say what they were and “drugs do not appear to be a motive,” Lemma said. “Based on what we know, Jake was primarily aggravated by the theft of the PlayStation.”

Bilotta and McClurg were both arrested on charges of first-degree premeditated murder and are being held at the John E. Polk Correctional Facility in Sanford without bail.

Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.


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