Nicole Okrzesik and James Ayers were arrested in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in connection to the murder of Juliana Mensch, 19, according to news reports. Okrzesik, 22, and Ayers, 32, were both booked into Broward County Jail on the charges. Okrzesik was reportedly charged with one count of first degree murder last Thursday; Ayers was hit with the same charge on March 31, reports indicate. It is not known whether Okrzesik, who was apprehended just before the weekend, has qualified for bail bond or has retained a private criminal defense lawyer.
According to news reports, authorities believe that Juliana Mensch was murdered in the early morning hours of March 24 in Nicole Okrzesik’s residence, located in the 1100 block of Northwest 7th Terrace in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Sources indicate that on the night of the alleged murder, Mensch spoke to a friend on the phone and told him that she was “getting high with Nikki and her boyfriend at their house.” It is not clear how the victim and the defendants knew each other, nor is it clear what types of drugs the trio was allegedly using. Troy Grimes, the friend who Mensch spoke to before she died, is believed to be cooperating with the investigation.
Detectives reportedly believe that at some point during the course of the night, Okrzesik attacked Mensch and attempted to kill her by breaking her neck. However, Okrzesik was allegedly unsuccessful, and authorities believe that Ayers ended up killing Mensch via strangulation as Okrzesik held her down, according to reports. After she died, Ayers allegedly stole several hundred dollars that Mensch had stashed inside of her bra. It is not clear how Ayers allegedly knew that the money was there.
Investigators evidently compiled details of the story through testimony that Ayers allegedly gave while in custody, as well as from two people Ayers had allegedly told about the murder. One, Michael Paul, is reportedly a friend of Ayers, while the other Paul Sohr, was a former drug counselor to Ayers. Both of the men are believed to be cooperating with the investigation.
Michael Paul reportedly contacted authorities on March 28 after Ayers told him about the alleged murder. Paul told investigators that Ayers had visited him at his workplace, which remains undisclosed, driving a blue Toyota Scion with a New Jersey license plate. Ayers allegedly told Paul that the vehicle belonged to a woman named Julie who he had killed. Ayers allegedly went on to describe the details of the alleged murder to Paul. Since then, the tag number of the vehicle has reportedly revealed that the Toyota is registered to Juliana Mensch.
Ayers reportedly told Sohr the same story, although he declined to say where the body was hidden. Investigators evidently found it in the room that Okrzesik and Ayers were renting, hidden under a pile of clothes. They were able to locate the body after arresting Ayers and contacting the landlord of the residence using a number saved on his cell phone, according to reports. The landlord purportedly told investigators to “kick in the door” if they had to because something “smelled dead” inside of the room. Investigators linked Okrzesik with the Fort Lauderdale murder after reviewing phone and text message records between her and Ayers, sources indicate.