Jump directly to the content
'MURDER-FOR-HIRE'

‘Incredibly dangerous’ contract killer admits to six brutal murders with one victim slain in case of mistaken identity

A CONTRACT killer has admitted to six murders and the attempted slaying of a seventh person, prosecutors say.

Ernest Pressley, 42, will spend the rest of his life in prison after pleading guilty to murder-for-hire charges in six deaths between 2016 and 2018, Pennsylvania court officials said.

3
Ernest Pressley, 42, will spend life in prison after admitting to his role in the deaths of six people and the attempted to murder of a seventhCredit: Philadelphia Police Department
3
Prosecutors say Pressley killed four people for money from an unidentified drug traffickerCredit: Fox 29
3
Three of his victims were killed in a 24-hour period, including tow truck driver Khayyan Fruster (pictured)Credit: NBC 10

United States Attorney Jacqueline C Romero announced the Philadelphia man's guilty pleas on Wednesday.

"By his own admission, Ernest Pressley is an incredibly dangerous individual with no qualms about accepting money to calculatedly and cold-bloodedly murder anyone," Romero said in a statement.

The convicted killer was arrested in September 2018 after he was captured on chilling surveillance footage near where a Philadelphia man was shot and killed.

Less than a week after the murder, Pressley was taken in and officials launched a years-long investigation that revealed a slew of violent crimes.

Investigators found that three of Pressley's victims were brutally killed in a 24-hour period in 2017.

On January 11, Pressley aimed to kill tow truck driver Khayyan Fruster, who was set to testify as a witness at an assault trial, FOX 29 reported.

But first, he shot and killed one of Fruster's coworkers "at random" in order to throw off investigators, police said.

Pressley aimed to disguise his executions as a feud between rival tow truck companies in Philadelphia, according to prosecutors.

The day after killing his first victim, he followed Fruster into the cab of his tow truck on January 12.

The hired killer opened fire, murdering Fruster and wounding another employee who was sitting at the wheel.

Investigators also found Pressley killed another person the night before Fruster's death at the request of a drug trafficker.

He shot that victim on January 11, 2017, while he worked on his vehicle at a garage.

Pressley was indirectly responsible for another killing as he admitted to giving up the location of someone who was wanted dead in the Philly drug trade, prosecutors said.

The information led a victim to be killed in a case of mistaken identity near the intersection of 56th Street and Ithan Street on July 24, 2018, according to officials.

The earliest murder Pressley admitted to was a shooting on July 19, 2016.

The killer said that he murdered a man who was sitting on a porch but did not give a clear motive.

Pressley also admitted to attempting to kill a woman when he shot her in the arm after she had arrived at her home, prosecutors said.

The woman survived and discovered her home had been ransacked and several items were stolen.

Pressley was identified several hours later as having sold a Rolex watch belonging to the woman at a pawn shop.

"With today's guilty plea and thanks to the dedicated efforts of the investigators on this case, this defendant will now spend the rest of his life behind bars for these heinous crimes," Romero said.

"We've long known that much of Philadelphia's violent crime is committed by a discrete group of chronic offenders," said Jacqueline Maguire with the FBI.

"Ernest Pressley is a case in point. He's an obvious menace with zero respect for human life and the city is unequivocally safer with him behind bars."

Pressley pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire and four counts of use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire.

His guilty plea and conviction carry a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Topics