A Philadelphia journalist and former Democrat communications director who was shot and killed in his home earlier this month was in a years-long sexual relationship with the teenager accused of killing him, the teen’s family said.
The family of Robert Davis, the 19-year-old accused of murdering leftist journalist Josh Kruger, said that Kruger began the relationship with Davis when Davis was just 15 years old, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The relationship centered on sex and drugs, according to Davis’ family, and Kruger, 39, allegedly threatened to post sexually explicit photos of the teen in the past.
Kruger was shot seven times around 1:30 a.m. at his home in the Point Breeze neighborhood of the city. The journalist was rushed to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center where he died less than an hour later, according to the Inquirer. Police said they believe someone entered Kruger’s home and shot him at the base of his stairs before fleeing.
Davis’ mother and brother told the Inquirer that the teen was involved in a relationship with Kruger as a minor, and he tried to keep the relationship — along with his drug addiction — secret. Surveillance footage from the area near Kruger’s home and tips from the journalist’s friends and family led police to Davis, and they issued a warrant for his arrest. Police said Kruger “was trying to help [Davis] get through life.”
BREAKING: Josh Kruger, the left-wing Philly journalist who was murdered in his home last week by 19-year-old Robert Davis, had been in a sexually relationship with him starting when Davis was 15 and had threatened to post sexually explicit photos of him online, per the family.… pic.twitter.com/6V8M3KdoPS
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) October 11, 2023
Kruger, who wrote for multiple newspapers and digital publications, previously worked for the city government. He handled Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney’s social media and served as the Office of Homeless Services’ communications director. Kruger was also an activist for LGBTQ issues and was open about being HIV positive.
Shortly after the killing, detectives believed the shooting stemmed from either a drug-related or domestic dispute. Investigators reportedly found methamphetamine in Kruger’s bedroom and recovered “troubling” text messages between Kruger and a former partner. Law enforcement sources told the Inquirer that detectives found “disturbing” images on Kruger’s phone but did not say if the images were connected to Davis.
Deputy Police Commissioner Frank Vanore confirmed that police are investigating the contents of Kruger’s phone and believes Davis is a key part of solving the crime.
“I think he could answer a lot of questions if he comes into custody and surrenders,” Vanore said. “It might help us put all this together.”
Damica Davis, the accused killer’s mother, said her son called her hours after police came to their home with a warrant for the teen and tried to explain what was happening.
“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 added that her son should be held accountable if he murdered Kruger, but she also believes he was victimized.
“It’s tragic what happened,” she said. “But I feel like my son is a victim in this, as well.”
Kruger’s death was mourned by leftist District Attorney Larry Krasner and Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) among other Democrats who said Kruger “lifted up the most vulnerable and stigmatized people in our communities – particularly unhoused people living with addiction” and “fiercely advocated for the most vulnerable communities through his journalism.”