A man’s Facebook Live broadcast led to him becoming a suspect, along with three alleged accomplices, in a home invasion and armed robbery in Edwardsville, according to an affidavit filed Tuesday.
Benjamin Leible was in his bedroom when he heard a knock on the front door around 8 p.m. Feb. 14, according to a report he later filed with police.
When one of Leible’s roommates opened the door, Leible heard a commotion and then a hard knock on his bedroom door. He opened it, and two men with firearms entered his room, according to police. The men put Leible on the floor and asked where he kept his phone, money and cannabis. They took his wallet, laptop, phone and cannabis, and left.
Video surveillance of the apartment building showed four suspects. On the video, three of the men ran from an area near Leible’s apartment to a black, four-door passenger car. The trunk popped open, and what appeared to be a laptop and other things were placed inside before the vehicle left the parking lot.
Less than three hours later, one of the suspects in the case, Thomas Gravlin, 20, of Edwardsville, posted a live video to Facebook from a car as he traveled down an unknown interstate.
Edwardsville Detective Jacob Germann, who filed the affidavit, watched the video and matched the radio display and climate controls with Volvo vehicles. Records showed that Gravlin drove a white Volkswagen SUV. His parents, however, owned a 2011 Volvo passenger car.
The affidavit did not mention how police found Gravlin’s Facebook Live video, but on Feb. 27, he was identified as one of the suspects in the robbery.
The next day, Edwardsville police took Gravlin into custody, and his father showed up later to ask about him. He told police that his son was driving his Volvo because the Volkswagen was getting repairs.
The elder Gravlin allowed police to examine and photograph his Volvo, but no contraband was found. The radio and climate controls matched the one in Gravlin’s video.
On Feb. 28, the same day of Gravlin’s arrest, police executed a search warrant at his residence, where they also found Kovin Bell, 20, of Richton, who looked similar to one of the suspects in the surveillance footage, according to the affidavit. Bell was taken into custody.
On March 1, Madison County prosecutors charged both Gravlin and Bell with one count of armed robbery and two counts of home invasion. Their bail was set at $250,000 apiece.
Later, prosecutors issued charges of home invasion and armed robbery against Dillon D. Woolfolk, 19, of Edwardsville. His bail also was set at $250,000.
Prosecutors also issued charges of home invasion and armed robbery against William Butler, who was arrested near Chicago. Butler was taken to the Madison County jail Tuesday. His bail and age were not immediately available.
Gravlin was released from the Madison County Jail after posting $25,000 bond. His Facebook page was no longer viewable, but police had sent Facebook a “letter of preservation” before it was taken down.
The affidavit, first made public Tuesday, was part of an application for a search warrant. The search warrant instructed Facebook to turn over records and information about the Facebook account of Gravlin.