The widow of a Vermont man who was killed in what federal prosecutors say was a coast-to-coast murder-for-hire plot has filed a civil lawsuit against the man accused of orchestrating the killing.
According to federal court documents on file in the District of Vermont, Melissa Davis, the widow of Gregory Davis, is suing Dr. Serhat Gumrukcu, a California medical researcher who made millions as the co-founder of a biosciences company. The Davis family now wants the federal court system to seize $25 million in Enochian BioSciences stock allegedly owned by Gumrukcu.
The Davis civil lawsuit alleges wrongful death, survival (including great emotional distress, pain, and suffering), loss of consortium (including care, comfort, love, support, guidance, and consortium), and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The civil suit seeks punitive damages but does not suggest a specific dollar amount beyond reciting the $75,000 threshold necessary to litigate the case in federal court on diversity jurisdiction (that is, that the plaintiffs and the defendant are from separate states and the defendant does not live in the forum state).
“The District of Vermont is the proper venue, and has personal jurisdiction over the defendant, because Mr. Gumrukcu’s acts caused Mr. Davis’ death in Vermont and represented a knowing, intentional and deliberate intervention in Vermont such that it is reasonable for Mr. Gumrukcu to be subject to legal proceedings in Vermont,” the complaint states in order to assert jurisdiction and venue.
The lawsuit then lays out the alleged facts of the case — almost all of which have been plucked from a criminal prosecution against Gumrukcu in the same federal district:
At approximately 9 p.m. on January 6, 2018, Melissa Davis and Gregory Davis were in their bedroom in their home in Danville, Vermont.
Mr. and Mrs. Davis heard someone knock on the door.
Mr. Davis went to the door and spoke with the man.
Mr. Davis came back to the bedroom and told Mrs. Davis the man was a U.S. Marshal.
Mrs. Davis saw the man. He had handcuffs and a rifle. He was wearing a jacket and a mask both of which had the emblem of the United States Marshals’ Service
The man told Mr. and Mrs. Davis that he had a warrant for the arrest of Mr. Davis for racketeering. He said the warrant instructed him to take Mr. Davis into custody and to bring him to Virginia.
A minor child of Mr. and Mrs. Davis saw the man and the car he was driving. The car had red and blue emergency lights activated on its dash.
Mr. Davis packed some clothes and went with the man.
The civil lawsuit recounts that the “next day,” on Jan. 7, 2018, “the Vermont State Police received a report that a body was lying on the side of a road in Barnet, Vermont, about 15 miles from Mr. and Mrs. Davis’ home.”
That body turned out to be Davis. He had “been shot multiple times in the head and torso while handcuffed,” the civil suit says.
The kidnapper, according to federal authorities, was actually Jerry Banks, 34, a onetime small-town jail guard from Fort Garland, Colorado. Banks had been hired through grapevine-like series of connections that sought to effectuate Gumrukcu’s plan to kill Davis, both federal law enforcement authorities and the Davis family have now alleged in court. Though Banks has not been charged with murder, he is facing other charges connected to Davis’s death, and federal agents have repeatedly indicated that Banks is believed to be the man who murdered Davis.
As Law&Crime previously reported, it took years for the authorities to unravel the alleged plot.
According to the civil suit:
Law enforcement officers learned that Mr. Gumrukcu and his brother, Murat Gumrukcu, had been involved in a business transaction with Mr. Davis.
The law enforcement officers also learned that shortly before his death Mr. Davis said that the Gumrukcu brothers had defrauded him and he was going to report their fraud to law enforcement agencies.
Federal law enforcement officers interviewed the Gumrukcu brothers.
Mr. Gumrukcu and his brother denied any involvement in Mr. Davis’ death.
Shortly thereafter, Murat Gumrukcu left the United States, never to return.
According to the civil suit, Banks is alleged to have communicated with Aron Lee Ethridge, 41, of Henderson, Nevada, immediately after Davis was killed.
Ethridge, in turn, is believed to have communicated with Berk Eratay, 35, of Las Vegas, Nevada. Eratay is believed to have communicated directly with Serhat Gumrukcu, according to the feds.
The civil suit expounds on the status of the federal criminal proceedings:
Eventually, Mr. Ethridge admitted to these law enforcement officers that he had hired Mr. Banks to kidnap and kill Mr. Davis.
Mr. Ethridge disclosed to the same law enforcement officers that Berk Eratay, a friend and former neighbor, had hired him to find a person to murder Mr. Davis.
Mr. Ethridge disclosed that Mr. Eratay had paid him more than $110,00 [sic; other documents say the amount was $110,000] in cash and additional amounts in Bitcoin for the murder of Mr. Davis.
Mr. Eratay is an employee and/or business associate of Mr. Gumrukcu.
Mr. Gumrukcu gave Mr. Eratay stock in a business organization with which Mr. Gumrukcu is associated.
Ethridge is charged with conspiracy to kidnap and is allegedly cooperating with federal authorities. Eratay and Dr. Gumrukcu have been indicted for allegedly conspiring to use interstate commerce facilities — namely, cell phones — in the murder of Davis.
Only Gumrukcu is named as a defendant in the civil suit.
“Between January 2018 and, at least, May 2022, Mr. Gumrukcu, who was at all times outside of Vermont, wrongfully concealed and made false statements about his central role in the wrongful death of Mr. Davis,” the suit alleges. “Mrs. Davis did not discover, and could not have discovered through the exercise of reasonable diligence, that Mr. Gumrukcu’s actions were a proximate cause of the wrongful death of Mr. Davis. The death of Mr. Davis was caused by intentional acts of Mr. Gumrukcu constituting murder.”
Another document concomitantly filed with the civil suit asks the court to seize Gumrukcu’s stock.
“[T]he evidence against the defendant is very strong and various persons involved in the conspiracy to kill Mr. Davis will testify against Mr. Gumrukcu,” that document states. “A verdict in excess of $25 million would surprise no one familiar with litigation in Vermont although, it should be noted, it would difficult, if not impossible, to find a case comparable to the present case.”
“Mr. Gumrukcu is said to own stock in Enochian worth as much as one hundred million dollars, although it seems probable that Mr. Gumrukcu’s indictment and incarceration will have an adverse effect of the market value of Enochian stock,” the Davis attorneys wrote.
Attorney Andrew Delaney, who is one of the lawyers representing Melissa Davis, declined to offer additional comments on the matter when reached by the website VT Digger.
Some of the civil lawsuit paperwork is below:
[images as noted]
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