The family of Robert Davis, accused of killing Philadelphia gay journalist Josh Kruger, is saying the two were in a sexual relationship that began when Davis was 15, and that they used drugs together.
Relatives also say Davis told them that Kruger had threatened to post explicit videos of Davis online, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
These allegations “add troubling new complexities to a killing that has garnered national attention,” the Inquirer notes.
Kruger, 39, was a well-regarded freelance journalist and former city employee. He was fatally shot Oct. 1 at his home in Philadelphia’s Point Breeze neighborhood.
He had seven gunshot wounds when police found him outside on the sidewalk, where he had collapsed. Kruger died shortly afterward at a local hospital.
In his writing, Kruger had been open about living with HIV, experiencing homelessness, and being addicted to recreational drugs.
Davis’ relatives say he and Kruger often used drugs together. Davis, 19, remains at large; a warrant has been issued for his arrest, and it charges him with murder and other crimes.
His mother, Damica Davis, told the Inquirer Robert called her Oct. 6.
“She urged him to turn himself in, she said, but before the call ended, he frantically tried to explain himself, though he stopped short of admitting to the crime,” the paper reports.
“He was scared,” she said. “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’.”
Damica Davis and Robert’s older brother, Jaylin Reason, told the paper Robert was often angry and was involved in fights at school. They said he started leaving home at night and returning high on drugs when he was about 15. He told them he was involved with an older white woman who had a government job.
When they saw the name “Josh” in phone messages, Robert claimed it was the woman’s gay brother. They just learned recently that it was Kruger.
Robert Davis had trouble holding a job, and rehab wasn’t successful for him, his family said. But when he was in the relationship, he often came home with expensive gifts.
Kruger, for his part, said he had gotten sober and turned his life around. But police said they found methamphetamine in his home the night of his death, and sources told the Inquirer police found “disturbing” images on his phone, although it’s not clear if they involve Davis.
Police have said Kruger and Davis knew each other and that Kruger was trying to help the younger man.
If Davis is guilty of killing Kruger, nothing justifies it, his mother said. “It’s tragic what happened,” she said. “But I feel like my son is a victim in this as well.”
This article originally appeared on Advocate.com, and is shared here as part of an LGBTQ+ community exchange between Q Voice News and Equal Pride.