BARTOW, Fla. (WFLA) – Online dating is more popular than ever. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you, “It’s the modern, it way to find romance.”
People seem to enjoy the convenience, being able to look for love while on-the-go. But, sometimes that convenience can come with deadly consequences. The online dating world also has the aspect of anonymity. How do you know who you’re really meeting? The Bartow Police Department has seen four cases in just four weeks of people being robbed and carjacked as a result of online dating.
Royshawn Scarlett knows that feeling well. The soft-spoken young man thought he had made a friend. Just like so many people, Royshawn wanted romance. So, he turned to technology, using online dating apps Kik and HiFi.
The 21-year-old is now sharing his story of survival. He hangs his head, and the tears began to fall. He came so close to dying recently on a date. “They’re gonna kill me,” he told himself that night. “Please Lord help me.”
Looking back, Royshawn thought he did everything right. He didn’t drive with his date. Instead, he picked a mutual meeting place in Bartow. But when he got there, the person he planned to meet instead had plans for him. ”
“They almost took my son’s life, which is like taking my life,” Royshawn’s mother told News Channel 8.
Royshawn’s date, along with three other men, attacked him. They ordered him to lie facedown on the concrete and they put a gun to the back of his head execution-style. They took his wallet, his cellphone and his car. Royshawn ran for his life after the men left. He tells us that no one would help him as he banged on multiple doors in the neighborhood, begging for help.
Finally, a woman called the police for him. Royshawn’s mother will never forget the moment she heard from her son that night. Now, she is making a public plea to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd to find the men who did this to her son.
“I love Grady Judd. Please go get ’em, Grady. I believe in you,” she pleaded.
There are three other cases of people being attacked in Bartow while utilizing online dating. Investigators are looking at leads. They are also warning people who are part of the online dating world to be very careful. Bring along a friend at the beginning of the date and always let a loved one know exactly where you’re going, they cautioned.