The Other McCain

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Florida ‘Predator’ Charged With Murder After Girl Dies From Fentanyl Overdose

Posted on | December 11, 2022 | Comments Off on Florida ‘Predator’ Charged With Murder After Girl Dies From Fentanyl Overdose

Robert Gullo, 25, had a modus operandi. Last year, he was arrested for lewd and lascivious behavior in Hernando County, Florida, after police say he had sex with an underage girl he met using the Tinder dating app. He was released on bond pending trial, and meanwhile continued doing the same thing, using the Internet to solicit minors for sex, using the offer of drugs as an incentive. In November 2021, Gullo was living in Clearwater and texting with two different girls, one 15 and another 16. On Nov. 18, 2021, Gullo sent both girls the same text message: “We should hang out tonight. Let’s do coke and get f***ed up.”

Smooth guy, eh? Real subtlety in his approach, you know?

Anyway, the 15-year-old turned down Gullo’s offer, but the 16-year-old, Meaghan Cooper, said yes. She snuck out of her house and went to Gullo’s house where, about 11:30 that night, she sent a text message to a friend: “I just did so much coke and it feels so good.”

Cooper didn’t feel good very long, however, because what she thought was cocaine was actually fentanyl. The next day, her body was found in a field near some power lines not far from Gullo’s house.

Toxicology reports showed Meaghan had four times a lethal amount of fentanyl in her system. Also, the autopsy — including DNA evidence — showed Gullo had sex with her. After an investigation that lasted more than a year, a Pinellas County grand jury last week indicted Gullo for first-degree murder and other charges. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced the charges at a press conference where he called Gullo a “predator,” and the obvious question is, why was this predator on the streets after being charged in a similar (although not deadly) crime in Hernando County? What was the amount of Gullo’s bond in that case, and who bailed him out? As we all know, criminal suspects must be presumed innocent until convicted, and defendants have a constitutional right to bail that is not “excessive,” but shouldn’t public safety be weighed in the balance of justice? And, again: Who paid that bail?

Interestingly, the terms of Gullo’s pretrial release in Hernando County required him to wear a GPS ankle monitor, and the data from that device became evidence, showing that after Meaghan died from a fentanyl overdose, Gullo traveled to the spot where Meaghan’s body was dumped.

There are a lot of disturbing angles to this story. Like, how was it that a teenage girl in Hernando County was on Tinder? What kind of safeguards are there to prevent minors from accessing dating apps intended for adults? Couldn’t states impose criminal sanctions on these companies if they don’t prevent this? Don’t you think Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state’s Republican-controlled legislature should look into doing something to fix this dating app problem?

Perhaps most disturbing, though, is the revelation that there seem to be a lot of teenage girls who have no concept of the dangers involved with meeting strangers via the Internet. If Robert Gullo had no problem finding so many underage victims — at least three, that we know of — in this part of Florida, how many girls are there nationwide playing this dangerous game online? Thousands? Tens of thousands? More?

There is a temptation, in discussing cases like the death of Meaghan Cooper, to use the adjective “tragic,” but that isn’t the right word. The proper adjective is stupid, as in: “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.”

My youngest daughter turned 20 last week, so now I can say that all six of my kids have survived their teenage years. That may not seem like much of an accomplishment, but judging by contemporary standards? Yeah, nominate me for Parent of the Year, every year.

And speaking from authority as Best Dad Ever, here’s some helpful advice for you kids: “Don’t be stupid. You’ll end up dead.”



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