Vermont murder-for-hire case sees third suspect plead guilty

RUTLAND, Vt. (AP) — One of the last of four men charged in an international murder-for-hire plot that led to the 2018 abduction and killing of a Vermont man pleaded guilty on Wednesday.

Berk Eratay of Las Vegas was expected to go on trial in September along with key suspect Serhat Gumrukcu of Los Angeles. Eratay changed his plea on charges of wire fraud and arranging to have a third man kidnap and kill Gregory Davis, 49, of Danville, Vermont.

Prosecutors said Davis had been threatening to go to the FBI with information that Gumrukcu, a native of Turkey who immigrated to the United States in 2013, was defrauding Davis in a multimillion-dollar oil deal that Gumrukcu and his brother had entered into with Davis in 2015.

Davis’ wife said that on Jan. 6, 2018, a masked man knocked on the door of the couple's Danville home and told Davis that he had an arrest warrant for him on racketeering charges. She said they left together.

Davis' handcuffed body was found the following day on the side of a snowy Vermont back road.

After his death, investigators worked for more than four years to connect the four suspects. They determined that the man who had knocked on the door was Jerry Banks of Colorado; that Banks was friends with Aron Lee Ethridge of Las Vegas; and that Ethridge was friends with Eratay. Eratay worked for Gumrukcu, they said.

Ethridge pleaded guilty in 2022 to helping to arrange the kidnapping and killing of Davis. Banks pleaded guilty last year to murder-for-hire and kidnapping conspiracy. They're awaiting sentencing.