David Desper, a Pennsylvania man, is accused of murdering teenager Bianca Roberson after she merged into his lane in a horrific road rage incident.
The West Goshen Police Department announced the arrest of Desper of July 2.
“This is the story of a savage and senseless murder. Someone didn’t want her to merge into a lane of traffic,” District Attorney Tom Hogan said.
In a press conference announcing the arrest, Hogan described the random nature of the murder, saying that Bianca had “her whole summer in front of her. Her whole life in front of her. A loving family. She was driving down Route 100. Route 100 is a two-lane highway…where it merges it goes from two lanes down to one. That’s the same merge that people from southeastern Pennsylvania make thousands of times every day.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Police Have Accused Desper of Murder & Other Charges in What the DA Called a ‘Calculated Act’
A police report says that Desper is from Trainer, Pennsylvania. “Thanks to the effort of our investigators and the support of the local community Bianca’s killer is in custody and charged with murder,” West Goshen police wrote on Twitter.
Desper turned himself in with his attorney, according to Hogan. “He has been arraigned. There is no bail. This is a first-degree murder case,” said the DA. “This was such a tragedy that no one should have to endure,” the police chief said in the joint news conference. He said police are still digging into the background of the defendant.
“The act of pulling a gun, aiming a gun, and being able to shoot someone in the head from one moving vehicle to another is a calculated act,” said the DA.
You can watch the press conference announcing the arrest here:
Bianca’s heartbroken family was in the room during the district attorney’s press conference announcing the arrest.
The 28-year-old suspect turned himself in at 2 a.m. on July 2. “Desper is charged with first and third degree murder, possession of an instrument of crime, and reckless endangering,” ABC 6 reported. His Facebook page has been deleted.
Neighbors at Desper’s rundown home said they didn’t know him well and one told Philly.com that two or three men had moved into the home about two years ago.
2. Roberson, a Teen, Was Shot in the Head When She ‘Jockeyed for Position’ With the Suspect, the DA Says
Bianca tried to merge lanes at the same time as Desper, authorities say, and, for that, the recent high school graduate paid with her life. The DA vividly recounted the incident at the news conference.
“As Bianca was merging down from two lanes to one, there was a man in a red pickup truck also merging down. And they jockeyed for position, and he wasn’t happy, so he pulled out a gun and shot Bianca in the head, killing her instantly,” the DA alleged. “She was shot in the left side of the head. Her car drifts over into the woods and hits a tree. That red pickup truck takes off like a bat out of hell.”
The DA also described what happened this way: Bianca was “merging safely into a lane. This defendant wasn’t happy with the way it was going so he pulled out a gun and killed this young woman.”
Authorities say they do not think there is a racial motivation for the Pennsylvania murder. Desper is white and Roberson was black. “There is no indication that we’re aware of that this is a race crime or a hate crime. This appears to be a savage, senseless and brutal act from one human being to another human being,” Hogan said in the news conference.
Images from PennDOT’s traffic cameras show that the pickup truck started in the left lane and Roberson’s Malibu was on right right. Signs on the roadway indicated that the left lane would end, meaning vehicles must merge to the right lane.
According to police, the shooting occurred in a stretch of highway where both cars traveled at least 60 mph. Authorities don’t think that Roberson and Desper had any sort of confrontation prior to the merging. Roberson then crashed her Malibu and was found dead inside it, and some witnesses described the incident as a “dangerous cat-and-mouse game.”
3. Police Recovered Desper’s Dented Trunk & Gun, Which He Had a Permit to Carry
Police found two key pieces of evidence: The truck they say Desper was driving, and the gun they say he used to shoot her. They recovered those items after Desper turned himself in, Hogan said. Authorities say the pickup truck was dented.
“Police went, and they found the red pickup truck with the dent in it in a location in Delaware County, and it has been brought back…it is registered to the defendant,” the DA said.
David Desper had a permit to legally carry the weapon, police said. The gun was legally purchased in November 2015.
Forensics also played a role.
“We got a crucial piece of evidence from Bianca herself,” said the DA.
That piece of evidence? The bullet inside her, which forensics experts in ballistics determined was fired by a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson. “Police searched the defendant’s room, his bedroom of his residence, and found that .40 caliber Smith & Wesson handgun,” Hogan said.
The police chief praised the teamwork that went into solving case. “They were relentless in their quest,” he said of investigators.
There were reports that Desper enjoyed drag racing.
Desper did not have a serious criminal past.
Prior court records show Desper “drove an unregistered vehicle & had inspection violations,” according to Fox 29.
4. Police Released a Sketch of the Suspect Previously
Desper resembles a police sketch released of the suspect previously.
Police had painstakingly pieced together video, eyewitness accounts and forensic evidence.
“The police went right to work on this road rage incident,” Hogan said in the news conference. “They went out and they found witnesses who told them, red pickup truck, a white man, a sound like a gun shot. The police immediately pulled up video from Route 100 and 202 and found that red pickup truck, tracked it down. We sent that information out. We got hundreds of tips. But the police didn’t stop there. They kept following the video.”
Police “tracked the movements of the truck and they got better pictures of the truck. It was a Chevy pickup truck. A red Chevy with a dent in the side of it.”
They started looking at all people with gun permits in the region who had a red pickup truck, and they matched those people with eyewitness descriptions of the suspect, he said.
5. Roberson Had Gone Shopping & Was Planning to Attend College
Roberson had a promising future ahead of her. She was supposed to attend Jacksonville University in the fall.
“How can you just shoot a baby, an 18-year-old girl, on her way to college and then just speed off like it was nothing? She didn’t deserve to die like this,” Roberson’s mother, Michelle, said to NBC Philadelphia.
Roberson’s father Rodney told The Philadelphia Inquirer that his daughter was on her way back home from shopping for school supplies and groceries when she was shot and killed.
“This homicide was completely senseless,” West Goshen Police Chief Joseph Gleason said in a previous news briefing. “A beautiful young lady of 18 years of age, in the prime of her life, getting ready to go off to college. And for reasons that are incomprehensible to me, the family is now planning her funeral instead of a going-away party for college.”