Police have arrested a young man they say shot and killed the journalist and LGBTQ+ activist Josh Kruger in his home earlier this month.
Robert Davis, 19, surrendered without incident and was arrested at the home of his mother in south Philadelphia on Wednesday, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer and other sources. Police say Davis shot Kruger seven times in the chest and abdomen around 1:30 a.m. on October 2. Kruger staggered outside, where he collapsed, and died a short time later at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center.
Both police and Davis’s family say the two men had a prior relationship allegedly beginning when Davis was 15.
Davis’s mother, Damica Davis, earlier this month told the Inquirer that her son grew up without a father, suffered from mental health and anger management issues, and had been in and out of several drug rehabilitation programs. She said his drug use and erratic behavior escalated when he turned 15. He started staying out late at night on a regular basis, and the family found drug paraphernalia, including needles, in his possession.
When she confronted him about his behavior, she said Davis claimed he was involved with an “older white woman” who “worked for the government” he had recently met online. Kruger was an employee of the city from 2015 to 2020, including as a spokesperson for the Office of Homeless Services and at the Department of Health.
Despite being unable to hold down a steady job, Davis started coming home with expensive gifts and clothing he could not afford. Damica told the Inquirer the family was concerned and followed Davis to the same block where Kruger lived, but were unable to determine which house he had entered. She also said she saw the name Josh frequently appear on her son’s phone.
Davis said her son only recently confessed that he was involved in a drug-fueled sexual relationship with Kruger and that the journalist-activist was threatening to post sexually explicit videos of the youth online if he didn’t comply with certain requests he found objectionable.
“He was scared,” Davis told the Inquirerearlier this month after the murder. “He said ‘He wanted me to do some stuff I didn’t want to do and if I didn’t do it, he said he was going to blackmail me.’”
At the same time Davis was learning of her son’s alleged involvement with Kruger, anonymous sources confirmed to the Inquirer that investigators had independently identified images and messages described as “disturbing” on Kruger’s phone, and that the matter was forwarded to the Special Victims Unit for further investigation. Police also say they found methamphetamine in his home on the date of his murder.
Despite the allegations, Kruger was remembered for his personal struggles in surviving homelessness, addiction, and sex work.
“Josh was a complex, beautiful person who believed fiercely in justice and wrote with fire and compassion that few others can,” Mathew Rodriguez, writer and former editor at The Body said in a statement to The Advocate earlier this month. “He was also my friend of over a decade and the world is worse for not having his keen insight and big heart.”
For her part, Davis is not excusing the actions of her son, saying that nothing justifies the killing of Kruger.
“It’s tragic what happened,” she said. “But I feel like my son is a victim in this as well.”