A missing Florida restaurant manager in an open relationship was murdered by an online predator he met on a dating app, sheriff officials said.
Michael Harris Jr., 20, of DeLand, was arrested late Saturday on a second-degree murder charge in the death of 63-year-old Bobby Scott, whose husband reported him missing on Jan. 17 when he didn’t return home, according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies found Harris with Scott’s vehicle two days later in DeLand, where he told investigators the restaurant manager had loaned it to him and hadn’t heard from him since. But Scott’s husband told cops he didn’t give out his car to anyone, authorities said.
A subsequent investigation revealed Scott met up with Harris on Jan. 17 and “was never heard from again,” sheriff officials said. The DeLand man was arrested after his bloody fingerprints were found inside Scott’s vehicle, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.
Scott’s husband told investigators the pair were in an “open relationship” and could date outside their marriage, the affidavit states. Scott’s body was discovered Sunday in DeLand, sheriff officials said.
Scott picked up Harris before they drove around DeLand, where they allegedly had sex in Harris’ parked vehicle. Investigators suspect Scott then fatally beat him afterward with a piece of wood and a beer bottle, Volusia County Sheriff Michael Chitwood told the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
“The victim died of blunt force trauma,” Chitwood said Sunday, characterizing Harris as an online predator. “Michael Harris has a history of posing as a gay prostitute and blackmailing and robbing the victims, and in this case, murdering the victim.”
In his last message to his husband, according to police, Scott, of Daytona Beach, wrote: “May stop at a guy’s house too.”
Harris told investigators he was friends with Scott – a manager at a Caribbean Jack’s restaurant in Daytona Beach – and that he paid the man to use his car for a week. Investigators suspect Harris may have killed Scott the day he met him, Chitwood said.
Harris remained held without bond on a charge of second-degree murder with a weapon, online records show. He’s also expected to face charges of carjacking, Chitwood said.
“The only explanation is the car,” the sheriff said of a possible motive. “The victim didn’t carry cash.”
It’s unclear if Harris has hired an attorney who could speak on his behalf.