NEW YORK – A BMW owner looking to sell placed an ad online offering $46,000 for the sedan, but he ended up being beaten and stabbed, found barely alive in the trunk after the sale went awry. Police on Friday were searching for the man they believe was responsible for the assault — and cautioned against being too trusting of Internet meet-ups.
Barion Blake, 30, was last seen running away from the scene of a fender-bender after the BMW rear-ended a taxi in the snowy weather in New York City on Wednesday. When police were called to the scene, they discovered Akeem Ajimotokan in the trunk.
Blake, who was previously convicted of stealing BMWs, was identified in a police photo lineup as the man driving Ajimotokan's, and his name was on the handwritten bill of sale found in the car, dated Tuesday, police said. Sometime during Ajimotokan's ordeal, Blake told his wife that he had done something wrong, according to police. Ajimotokan was hospitalized in stable condition Friday but was unconscious; authorities have not been able to interview him.
Ajimotokan, a lawyer who works at Columbia University, had placed the ad on Cars.com, which charges a fee to post ads for used and new vehicles for sale. He included his home number in his description of the fully-loaded, 2008 metallic blue BMW M3. It's not entirely clear how long the ad was online.
Authorities believe Blake contacted Ajimotokan and went to his home in West New York, N.J., not far from Manhattan, sometime Tuesday evening.
At around 3 a.m. Wednesday, Blake and another man were spotted in Nassau County, on New York's Long Island, outside the BMW on the side of the road near Jericho Turnpike, and Nassau police said it looked like they were switching license plates. When the officer approached them, they sped off and, in the thick snow, the police car overturned while pursuing them and they escaped.
Police believe Ajimotokan was already bloodied, in the trunk at that time. But he wasn't discovered for six more hours, when Blake, now alone, rear-ended a taxi driver in the snow, in upper Manhattan, miles away from Nassau County.
Responding officers from the 34th Precinct called in the number for the plate — there was only one, on the rear — and found out it belonged to a Toyota that was parked in Queens. The owner didn't know the plate had been stolen until police told him.
The BMW's interior was bloody and the officers noticed that part of the rear seat was missing, which led them to the gruesome discovery: Ajimotokan had been stabbed in the head and body, his ear partially sliced off. His hands were bound behind his back with plastic ties.
NYPD Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Friday that the victim was on a ventilator but was stable.
He said police are seeing more crimes that stem from the Internet and urged people to be safe and doublecheck information before going forward with any transactions generated online.
"It may slow down the process, but it's common sense to do that in this day and age," he said. "There's an awful lot of hucksterism on the Internet. There's a tremendous potential for misuse."
Blake has served time twice. He was jailed from Feb. 2001 until 2004, for stealing a 2000 BMW worth $80,000, a BMW worth $79,000 and a 2001 BMW, said Linda Foglia, spokeswoman for the New York State Department of Correctional Services.
He was released to the custody of New Jersey authorities and was convicted again in New York in 2006 of attempted assault on a police officer, Foglia said. Blake was pulled over by police in Queens while driving a stolen Acura and gave chase; during the apprehension, he assaulted an officer. He was in jailed from 2007 until December 2008.
His last known address was in Manhattan.
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