Internet searches, texts and Facebook messages implicate a Florida couple in the murder of an 18-year-old friend in their Fort Lauderdale apartment, according to police.
Court documents allege that 32-year-old James Ayers and 23-year-old Nicole Okrzesik discussed killing Juliana Mensch and argued over what to do with her body online and in text messages after authorities believe the teen was asphyxiated in the early hours of March 24. Mensch’s decomposing body was found under a pile of clothing in the apartment five days later.
Ayers was charged with first-degree murder on March 29, and Okrzesik was also arrested for murder six weeks later on May 10. A probable cause affidavit for her arrest details the evidence detectives collected during that time.
The affidavit states that, when interviewed by detectives on March 30, Okrzesik claimed Ayers choked Mensch, who had been sleeping on the floor, “until she was dead and stopped moving” to steal her money so they could buy drugs and “get high.” In text messages allegedly sent by Ayers to Okrzesik on March 25, however, he accused her of actively participating in the crime.
“You held her down your guilty of murder to,” police say he wrote in one text.
According to the affidavit, many of the messages sent that day appear to involve Ayers threatening to confess to police and Okrzesik trying to convince him not to, including this exchange at 5:45 p.m.:
Ayers: “I only did what I did to Julie for you but you still continue to be unfaithful”
Okrzesik: “I’m being honest im scared of you”
Ayers: “Are you coming home, if not I’ll just turn us both in”
Okrzesik: “im scared of you right now, ya I told you if you calm down I will”
“At no point in the 100’s of messages did Okrzesik deny any involvement in the murder or tell Ayers she didn’t know what he was talking about,” the affidavit states.
In private Facebook messages over the next two days, police say the couple allegedly continued to argue. On March 27, they wrote:
Ayers: “We have to figure this out, Im not going to but if the smell gets worse were f***ed”
Okrzesik: “Cant we just go dump it somewhere then take off”
According to the affidavit, Ayers told a friend that he strangled Mensch after Okrzesik “tried to break her neck, couldn’t do it and she [Juliana] started screaming.”
The document lists numerous internet searches that records show were conducted on Okrzesik’s phone between 3:30 and 3:45 a.m. on March 24, about a half hour after she texted a friend to say Mensch was sleeping on her floor. Among the terms searched and pages visited:
- “Whats on those rags that make people pass out”
- “ways to kill people in their sleep”
- “could you kill someone in their sleep and no one would think it was murder”
- “how to suffocate someone”
The affidavit also alleges that Okrzesik posted photos on her Facebook wall on the night of March 24—just hours after police believe Mensch was killed—of herself and Ayers with others at a bar “partying,” as the affidavit describes it, along with the comment, “Wooooo—at Wet Willie’s South Beach.”
Attorneys for Ayers and Okrzesik did not return calls seeking comment on the case Thursday, but Ayers has pleaded not guilty. Both suspects are being held without bond in Broward County.
For more on the case, watch Nancy Grace Thursday at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET on HLN.