Jake Bilotta and Ian McClurg are accused of murdering their former roommate over a Playstation 4. Investigators with the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office in Florida said the crime had been planned out in advance.
The two suspects allegedly lured the victim back to the home with the intention of killing him. The victim was has been identified as 24-year-old Joshua Barnes.
Deputies were alerted to the crime by another roommate, Walter Johnson, who had come home unexpectedly and saw Barnes’ body. Johnson immediately called 911.
The murder occurred sometime before midnight Monday, November 26, 2018. Both Bilotta and McClurg are charged with first-degree premeditated murder. Under Florida law, prosecutors could pursue the death penalty.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Sheriff: Ian McClurg Told Investigators That Jake Bilotta Had Been Furious All Day & Believed Their Former Roommate Had Stolen His Playstation; They Lured the Victim to the House By Inviting Him to a Party
Sheriff Dennis Lemma of the Seminole County Sheriff’s Department detailed the crime during a news conference on November 27. He explained that based on evidence and a witness account, the motive for the murder was revenge. The crime happened at 1917 South Boulevard in Maitland, Florida.
Jake Bilotta and Ian McClurg were reportedly convinced that their former roommate, now identified as Joshua Barnes, had come back and burglarized the house. Barnes had lived in the house for only a couple of weeks before he was evicted.
Bilotta was under the impression that Barnes had stolen a Playstation 4. Sheriff Lemma explained that so far, they had not discovered any evidence that the victim had actually burglarized the house. But text messages between Bilotta and McClurg showed that they believed it to be true.
McClurg admitted to investigators that Bilotta had expressed a lot of anger that day. He said Bilotta had punched holes in the wall over the alleged theft of his Playstation. Sheriff Lemma explained that plans were made to lure Barnes to the house by pretending to invite him to a party.
2. Barnes Was Stabbed Multiple Times With a Chef’s Knife; Bilotta & McClurg’s New Roommate, Walter Johnson, Walked Into the House Shortly Before Midnight, Saw the Bloody Body on the Floor & Called 911
Sheriff Lemma explained that a third roommate, identified as Walter Johnson, walked in during the commission of the crime. Johnson had been living there for just a few days. That night, he had been out on a date and allegedly had just stopped by the house to get something. His date was waiting in the car.
Johnson told investigators that when he walked through the front door, he saw the bloody body laying on the floor. McClurg was holding a 7-inch chef’s knife. Bilotta was in the process of placing the body inside plastic garbage bags. Johnson said he also saw a mop and duct tape laying near the body. Sheriff Lemma said during the news conference that investigators believe “the plan was to kill him, put him in plastic bags and then find someplace to bury him.”
Johnson ran back to the car and called 911. Johnson told deputies that he had been aware that his roommates were angry over a missing Playstation, but had not known they had been planning violence against Barnes.
3. Deputies Arrived Moments After the 911 Call; Bilotta Ran Barefoot From the House While McClurg Barricaded Himself in the Bathroom
Sheriff Lemma said that Seminole County deputies responded to the house within moments of receiving the 911 call from Johnson. Ian McClurg barricaded himself in the bathroom. Jake Bilotta ran from the house without stopping to grab shoes.
Deputies caught Bilotta about 30 minutes later and arrested him. Sheriff Lemma said that investigators believe Bilotta and McClurg share equal responsibility for the planning and execution of the murder. “I believe Jake was the primary person that was doing the stabbing with the knife, but both Jake and Ian had preplanned this. Ian’s position was to grab him in the event that he was going to run, to tackle him, to not let him leave the scene. So they are both equally responsible.”
Sheriff Lemma added that investigators found drugs inside the home but they do not believe the drugs played any role. He explained that all evidence suggests the killing was revenge for the suspected theft of a Playstation 4. Lemma called it “the most bizarre and disgraceful act that one can imagine.”
A fourth roommate lived at the house. But he was reportedly at work at the time of the crime and deputies do not believe he had any knowledge of what his roommates were planning.
4. Jake Bilotta Was Arrested in October 2018 in Connecticut on a Weapons Charge
Jake Bilotta was born February 2, 1996, making him 22 years old. An online records search indicates he was originally from Foxboro, Massachusetts. His parents appear to still live there. The search does not reveal details concerning work or school history. Sheriff Lemma said he did not believe the two suspects were college students.
Bilotta was arrested just a few weeks prior to the murder in Florida. He was taken into custody in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, on October 17, 2018, according to a press release. He was facing charges of Weapons in a Motor Vehicle and Possession of Less Than ½ Ounce Marijuana.
5. Ian McClurg Was on Parole For Theft at the Time of the Murder, According to Inmate Records
Ian McClurg was born December 3, 1997, according to jail records. In addition to the premeditated murder charge, records show he was also in violation of parole. The former charge appears to have been for petty theft.
McClurg and Bilotta appeared before a judge on Wednesday, November 28. The judge denied bond. The jail records also did not indicate whether they have obtained attorneys at this time.