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Michigan Man Allegedly Used Grindr To Meet Victims To Murder

Police say Caleb Anderson used the dating app Grindr to meet his alleged victims, Patrick Ernst and Dwight Dixon. He allegedly filmed himself with Ernst's body.

By Constance Johnson
Dating App Tragedies

A Michigan man accused of a multiple state crime spree allegedly used Grindr, a dating app for men who date men, to meet his two murder victims.

Caleb Scott Anderson, 23, has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide for the murder of Patrick Ernst, 65, in August, according to a press release from the Green Bay Police Department. He is currently being held at the Escambia County Jail in Alabama for the murder of Dwight Dixon, 52, as well as first-degree burglary.

Anderson allegedly told Wisconsin police that he “just snapped” — but that from the age of 14 or 15, “I just always wanted to kill somebody.

Authorities say that he also told them he “always thought about using Grindr to kill people, he thought it would be the smartest way if you didn’t know someone,” according to the criminal complaint filed by the Brown County District Attorney’s office, which was reviewed by Oxygen.com.

A police handout of Caleb Anderson

Green Bay Police officers went to the home of the Wisconsin victim, Ernst, on Aug. 2 to conduct a welfare check after Ernst's co-workers from Sofidel became concerned because he failed to show up for work, according to the criminal complaint.

A relative said she last spoke with Ernst on July 31 after he left a family event in Shawano. He was expected back at work on Aug. 2 and had sent emails to his co-workers that said he would see them on Tuesday, according to the criminal complaint. He didn't arrive and didn't respond to phone calls or his doorbell when a coworker went to the residence.

His car was also apparently missing from the driveway.

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The officer was unable to get a response after buzzing Ernst’s apartment, and a complex employee first let officers into the complex and then the apartment.

Once the officer entered, he spotted a green utility knife on the floor in the living room near the kitchen, and said the kitchen cabinets appeared “ransacked.” The officer found blood on the bathroom floor, blood droplets by the toilet bowl and a tub full of apparently clear water. It was later determined that the last person who used the toilet hadn't flushed.

In the bedroom, officers noticed what appeared to be blood splatter on the walls near the bed. The officer discovered Ernst’s naked and lifeless body on his bed buried under a pile of clothes still on the hangers.

A police handout of victim Patrick Ernst

They then found a note that read “I am so sorry he didn’t deserve this” — in what the complaining officer characterized as "poor penmanship" — according to the criminal complaint. They also found writing on the wall above Ernst’s body which said: “Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me,” as well as "RIP" and the date Aug. 1, 2022 in numerals.

The medical examiner determined that the victim had at least 38 stab wounds to the head, neck, chest and abdomen, as well as 12 stab or laceration wounds to the left hand and arm that appeared to be defensive wounds, according to the criminal complaint.

Authorities later discovered that, though Ernst's car was missing, there was a Toyota Camry with Michigan plates parked in front of the apartment, which was registered to Anderson. They then found out that police in Michigan authorities were investigating an assault and attempted abduction of a woman on Aug. 1 in which Anderson was the primary suspect.

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Anderson was arrested in Alabama on Aug. 3. and allegedly confessed to the attempted abduction, Ernst's murder and Dixon's murder, according to the criminal complaint.

Anderson allegedly told Alabama police that he had been driving down the road in Michigan when he saw a woman jogging and for some reason “wanted to kill her,” according to the criminal complaint.

Police say that he sometimes got those thoughts with people, but “it’s usually with guys.”

He allegedly jumped out of his car armed with a can of cologne and a roll of tape, planning to get the woman to the ground and tie her hands behind her back.

Anderson allegedly said he got the victim in a chokehold but started to think of his mother, so instead he hit her “a couple of times and went away.”

Police say that he then drove to Green Bay his 2004 Toyota Camry, purchased a burner phone from Walmart and installed Grindr, allegedly to find a victim from whom to steal a car. He allegedly said his choice of Grindr was driven by his desire to kill men, otherwise he would have used Tinder.

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Ernst responded.

Anderson then allegedly confessed that he'd gone to Ernst's house, asked to use the bathroom — where he wrapped a knife in his hoodie — and subsequently followed Ernst to his bedroom, and the two took off their clothes.

Authorities say that Anderson allegedly told them that he put his hoodie over Ernst’s mouth so the neighbors wouldn’t hear the screaming and began stabbing him. He allegedly slashed his own hand in the process.

Anderson allegedly told authorities that, after killing Ernst, he drove the victim's car to Walmart, bought candles, Febreeze and Gorilla glue for his injury, returned to the home and watched wrestling on TV before heading to Alabama.

There, he allegedly created a new Grindr account, met up with another victim — Dixon — and stabbed him to death as well.

Police allegedly subsequently discovered a five second video on Anderson’s phone in which he was alleged seen standing in Ernst’s bedroom. Police say that, on the video, Anderson said, “I’m OK,” panned to Ernst's body and then said, “He’s not.” They also found a shirtless selfie taken in Ernst's bathroom in which Anderson appeared to be covered in blood, and two naked, blood-covered selfies in which Anderson was covering his genitals with his hands.

Anderson was previously charged and convicted in 2019 of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in a case that was dubbed “the serial butt-grabber case,” according to MLive.com. He was sentenced to 12 months of probation for grabbing unsuspecting women by the buttocks and running away.

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