Lafayette man robbed, beaten during staged sexual encounter on dating app

Police say a Lafayette man who thought he was meeting a woman in Flora for sex was instead robbed and brutally beaten with a baseball bat, later dying at an Indianapolis hospital.

Posted: Jun 21, 2021 10:32 AM
Updated: Jun 22, 2021 10:18 AM

FLORA, Ind. (WLFI) — Police say a Lafayette man who thought he was meeting a woman in Flora for sex was instead robbed and brutally beaten with a baseball bat, later dying at an Indianapolis hospital.

Police officers responded about 5:15 a.m. Wednesday to a possible intruder inside a home in the 100 block of East Clem Street, according to a news release from the Flora Police Department.

The residents told officers they woke up to find Willie Smith, 55, unresponsive with traumatic injuries to his face, according to a probable cause affidavit.

He was flown to IU Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis where he died.

The affidavit states police believed three people may have been involved in the alleged attack: Tyrone Leftridge, 22, of Lafayette, and another man and woman 

News 18 is not naming them because they haven't been arrested or charged in the case. 

Investigators on Thursday arrested Leftridge, who was charged Friday with felony counts of robbery resulting in serious bodily injury and aggravated battery.

Prosecutors on Monday filed a third count of murder.

A woman with Leftridge at the time told detectives Leftridge used a dating app, called Meet-Me, to impersonate her and facilitate a sexual encounter with Smith for $80, according to a summary of her statements included in the affidavit.

A receipt found at the scene suggests Smith withdrew $120 from a Lafayette ATM at 1:05 a.m. Wednesday. 

The woman told police Leftridge was hiding behind a nearby garage when Smith arrived. She said he came running from behind the garage and hit Smith twice in the head with a baseball bat.

She also told investigators she saw Leftridge at a nearby home with cash in $20 denominations, a wallet and another cellphone.

In a recorded jail phone call, police say Leftridge admitted to hitting Smith "because he had a knife," according to a summary of the call in the affidavit.

But the woman told police Smith "was not rude and she did not see any weapon such as a knife in his hand," according to the affidavit.

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