BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — There are some new details in the investigation of the burned body of Jermeria Fowler found Thursday night.
Birmingham Police initially reported Fowler had gone to make a Facebook Marketplace purchase before she was reported missing. Officer Truman Fitzgerald says while they haven’t ruled out a Facebook Marketplace meet-up completely, detectives have uncovered facts that may point to other situations.
As the investigation continues, the case is raising concerns about meeting strangers face-to-face for online sales.
Some police departments like Birmingham have designated themselves as safe meetup spots for people buying or selling things from social media. The death of Fowler has left some people with more worries than before.
“It’s scary. It is scary,” says Terri Wilson, an admin for the Shelby County Marketplace Facebook group.
Wilson has been buying and selling on social media for years, even advertising yard sales like the one she held Friday.
“Some people have come up and said ‘Oh yeah, we’re here because we saw the ad’ so, yeah, you get a lot of publicity that way but you can get a lot of danger that way. Predators are going to look,” Wilson said.
Wilson takes a lot of precautions to try and keep herself safe when meeting people from social media like researching the person messaging her, making sure someone else knows the time and location of the meet and only meeting in public places during the day.
“Everybody needs to just check on one another and if you can take somebody with you, that’s the best bet too,” says Wilson. “I’ve got a 150-pound Rottweiler I’ll throw in the truck with me too.”
Wilson made a post on the Shelby County Marketplace Facebook page encouraging everyone to be extra careful and aware of their surroundings.
Birmingham Police says even though it’s not definite that Fowler was killed during a Facebook Marketplace meeting, it’s a good time to remind everyone of safe practices.
“If they have any doubts or any trouble meeting you at a place such as a police department or a public place, that’s a red flag,” Fitzgerald said.
BPD says all four precincts and headquarters can be used as safe meeting places at any time of day.