Instagram posts help lead Louisville detectives to serial graffiti suspect
Michael Amsler has a long criminal history, including arrests in 2011 for stealing wallets from a church and an incident in 2014 where he was tazed by police.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Sharing too much on Instagram helped put an infamous graffiti tagger behind bars, according to Louisville Metro Police.
Michael Amsler, 26, was arrested on Saturday in the 600 block of Atwood Street near Eastern Parkway.
"We feel pretty confident he's responsible for the MESKR tags and TSGK tags," Det. Joseph Nett said. "In one of his tags, he wrote 'no days off,' and I think truly he does go out and tag every day."
Detectives started tracking Amsler's "vaudeville_vandal" Instagram account, and Nett said it shared pictures of the MESKR and TSGK tags on the back of places like interstate signs, billboards, buildings and even a train.
"We encourage anyone out there who's seen this tag on their property, had to cover it up or it's still out there to contact us." Nett said.
Amsler currently faces three counts of criminal mischief, though he's expected to face "multiple other counts" as the public begins to report locations of the MESKR and TSGK tags.
Doug Korfhage, who owns Korfhage Floor Covering on Preston Street, has seen plenty of that MESKR tag. He's had to cover graffiti on an adjacent building six times, and the MESKR can still faintly be seen underneath the white paint from the last incident last month.
"It's just garbage. Nothing attractive about it at all," Korfhage said. "It's frustrating, and it's unfortunate, because this is a good neighborhood, Germantown ... And they don't like to see that."
Ironically, it wasn't a giant MESKR signs on a building or billboard that caught up to Amsler, rather a little tag on the back of an orange roadwork sign at the corner of Preston and Lynn Streets.
Police say the owners of Zanzabar caught Amsler in the act working on the small roadwork sign Saturday afternoon. They were still upset about a building they owned next door being tagged with the MESKR logo back in March. Nett said Amsler left his car running in the middle of the street to get away from the confrontation. Inside, officers found spray paint, special tips and safety equipment. Amsler eventually returned to the scene attempting to get the car back and ended up being arrested.
"That is hilarious considering some of the murals you see out on highways are massively huge, and a tiny tag is what got him arrested," said Matt Stottmann, who lives nearby. "It's kind of ironic."
Amsler lives two blocks from the intersection off Preston where he left the car in the street. Nett said the vehicle was registered to his girlfriend, and as officers went to check his home, they found the suspect in the alley behind it.
"He was attempting to come back to the scene while officers were still there." Nett said.
Amsler was charged for the March vandalism at the building next to Zazabar and for a tagging on a highway sign on I-65 North at St. Catherine Street, which totaled about $5,000 in damage. The highway sign had been posted to Instagram.
"The kids that do this probably have a lot of talent and a lot of potential, but they don't have a role model," Korfhage said. "It's very unfortunate that's the case."
Amsler has a long criminal history, including arrests in 2011 for stealing wallets from a church and an incident in 2014 where he was tazed by police. His arraignment on the criminal mischief case is set for Wednesday.
Copyright 2018 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.