ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – After pleading guilty last month in federal court to making rape threats against a woman he used to date, a St. Louis man faces a new charge in local court.

The St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said Robert Merkle, 54, pleaded guilty on March 16 to five federal felonies, including two counts of interstate communication of threats and three counts of cyberstalking.

According to his plea, Merkle admitted to harassing a Town and Country woman while he was on parole for similar crimes with different victims.

The federal investigation into Merkle’s threats began in January 2022, when a woman told the Town and Country Police Department that a man she’d met on a dating site more than seven years earlier sent a series of suspicious text messages. The messages hinted that he had made a copy of her house key and was planning to break into her home and rape her.

Merkle’s guilty plea in this case gave county prosecutors the ability to charge him as a prior and persistent offender.

On Jan. 26, 2023, the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charged Merkle with first-degree harassment.

If convicted of being a prior and persistent offender, Merkle faces an increase in the sentencing range for his harassment charge.

Merkle is due in St. Louis County Circuit Court on June 22. In the meantime, he’s being held on a $75,000 cash-only