Second Pranknet Member Busted
Texan, 19, facing felony raps in two states over hoaxes
Second Pranknet Member Arrested
SEPTEMBER 9--A Texas man is facing felony charges in two states for placing prank phone calls that caused significant damage to fast food restaurants.
James Tyler Markle, who was exposed last month in a TSG story on Pranknet, an online network of criminal prank callers, was arrested yesterday for a June 20 call targeting a McDonald's in Lufkin, Texas (Markle lives in Diboll, a neighboring city). Markle confessed to the crime following his arrest, according to police.
As detailed in this criminal complaint, Markle, 19, convinced a McDonald's worker to set off the restaurant's fire suppression system, which released a liquid from overhead extinguishers. Markle then told the employee that the liquid contained a toxin and directed the worker to break the store's windows "for ventilation." Four windows were eventually smashed and the eatery incurred damages in excess of $5000, according to police.
Investigators connected Markle to the call after subpoenaing records for his Skype account, which showed that calls were placed from his number to the McDonald's, and then to the cell phone of a McDonald's employee. Shortly after placing the June 20 call, Markle, a convicted child rapist, was in the Pranknet chat room crowing about his successful attack on the restaurant.
As seen in this transcript, Markle--who used the nickname "Prankster"--reported that he was "about to go by McDonalds and take some pics" of the damage, and promised to "let yall see them." He also referred to the eatery's broken windows and the triggering of the business's Ansul fire suppression system. Markle, pictured in the mug shot at left, was charged with making a felony terroristic threat and jailed in lieu of $10,000 bond.
Markle was also charged yesterday with placing an identical prank call to a Wendy's in Gretna, Louisiana on June 21. As with the prior day's call to McDonald's, Markle (posing as a corporate official) allegedly convinced a Wendy's employee to trigger the fire suppression system and break windows, according to a Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office report. An excerpt of that harrowing call, which was broadcast in the Pranknet chat room, can be listened to here.
As a frantic, gasping worker busts out windows, Markle assures the man, "Sir, you're gonna be a hero." Markle, who was linked to the Wendy's call via his Skype records, has been charged with terrorizing and criminal damage, both felonies (the terrorizing count carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison). He confessed to the June prank when interviewed yesterday by a pair of Louisiana investigators, according to a source. Upon release from the Texas jail, he will be transported to Louisiana to face those charges.
Markle is also the subject of a criminal probe in Lexington, Kentucky for his role in placing a July 20 call to a Homewood Suites hotel. That call ended with a worker drinking a urine sample provided by a guest. Markle is the second Pranknet member to be arrested following TSG's August 4 story. Shawn Powell, a convicted sex offender known as "Slipknotpsycho," was arrested last month for a prank call targeting an Arby's in Baytown, Texas, where the 24-year-old resides. (7 pages)