CRIME

Darin Leutbecker Accused Of Bizarre Boatjacking, Crime Compared To 'Craigslist Killer'

09/28/2011 03:23 pm ET | Updated Sep 03, 2013

UPDATE: Leutbecker was ultimately charged with one felony count of robbery with a firearm. The County Clerk's office told the Huffington Post Leutbecker was found not guilty.

A Florida man claims he almost lost his life in a struggle with a gunman he met while trying to sell a boat on Craigslist.

In a case that has drawn comparisons to the notorious "Craigslist Killer," investigators in Volusia County near Daytona Beach say 37-year-old Ronald Kroll fought off 38-year-old Darin Leutbecker -- a man who responded to his post on the classified ad website.

After corresponding by phone, the two met at a boat ramp along the Intracoastal Waterway and decided to "go for a ride in the boat to see how it operates in the water," according to a Volusia County Sheriff's Office report obtained by The Huffington Post.

Out on the water at around 10 a.m. on Sept. 7, Leutbecker -- who purportedly gave his name as "Chris" -- ordered Kroll to walk to the front of the small recreational boat "so he could check the sturdiness of the boat." He then allegedly told Kroll to "turn around and face away from him" while simulating fishing, the police documents note.

Kroll felt uneasy about the situation and refused to turn his back, telling the would-be boat buyer that it was time to return to dry land.

That's when Leutbecker reached into a faded blue backpack -- a rucksack he had earlier claimed contained $5,000 for the possible purchase of the boat -- and pulled out a handgun, authorities allege.

After catching sight of the firearm, Kroll told investigators that he rushed towards the gunman, grabbing his arm. The men scuffled on the boat, then fell into the water.

In chest-deep water somewhere between New Smyrna Beach and Edgewater, the two men struggled over the firearm.

Believing that Leutbecker had dropped the handgun, Kroll claims he managed to grab a pocketknife he carries in his front right pocket. He slashed Leutbecker across the neck.

Kroll then dove under the water and emerged on the other of the boat. While underwater, Kroll believes he heard a gunshot. When he emerged, he saw Leutbecker "pointing the firearm at him, and holding his neck with his other hand," the report notes.

Leutbecker then stole Kroll's boat and fled, according to the victim. The boat -- which was covered in "a substantial amount of what appeared to be dried blood on the deck -- was later recovered near a dock. The suspect was nowhere to be found.

Kroll hailed down some boaters and contacted authorities, giving a detailed description of a perp in his mid-30s with a full beard and mustache and an "Oriental symbol tattoo" on one of his fingers, police documents indicate.

Around 7:30 p.m., investigators received a tip that a man matching that description had checked into Canaveral Hospital in Brevard County seeking care for a neck wound.

Later that night, Kroll identified Leutbecker on a photographic police lineup.

Leutbecker has been charged with robbery with a firearm, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, use of a firearm during the commission of a felony, grand theft and battery, according to a sheriff's office press release.

"I think he would have killed me if he had the chance," Kroll told the Daytona Beach News-Journal earlier this month.

The paper draws parallels between the incident and the case of Philip Markoff, a 24-year-old medical student accused of murdering a masseuse he met on Craigslist and robbing two other women he encountered on the website. Markoff committed suicide while in custody and his story was later turned into the made-for-TV movie "The Craigslist Killer."

Leutbecker, of Merritt Isle, Fla., was ordered held on $10,000 bond. He is no longer in custody, according to the Volusia County Division Of Corrections website.

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