"Prankster" admits he masterminded Lufkin prank

James Tyler Markle
James Tyler Markle

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – He said it got out of hand. In August 2009, The Smoking Gun Web site outed James Tyler Markle as member of a national prank ring.

The Diboll man is accused of prank calls that humiliated people and damaged businesses.

He was later arrested for a prank in Angelina County causing thousands in damage to a Lufkin McDonald's.

Now the 20-year-old said his "Prankster" days are over.

"At that point and time it was just me and like a bunch of my friends that I met on the Internet having fun, just having fun," said Markle. "It started off as just random stuff, calling people off Craigslist and acting like we wanted their product and then playing a big joke on them."

Then, he said it turned into calling hotels and restaurants.

In June 2009, Markle called a Lufkin McDonald's and tricked an employee to activate the fire extinguishers and break 4 windows costing the business thousands of dollars.

He's currently on three years probation for a similar incident at Jefferson Parish Wendy's in Louisiana.

"Wendy's and McDonald's yes, but I didn't participate in very many other things other than that," explained Markle. "I did a lot of Cragislist, but once I saw it getting out of hand I was like no. I had stopped doing it for at least three or four months."

In one story, The Smoking Gun online claimed Markle pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a child in 2005 for molesting a 5-year-old in a Diboll Baptist Church, but Markle said that's not entirely true and the girl was apparently 12 and he was 13.

"It was a totally different incident," claimed Markle. "It was me and my girlfriend and she was my age and her parents found out, got mad, pressed charges, statutory rape because I was older than her."

Markle said he thinks The Smoking Gun article led to his arrest and it's not over yet.

His case hasn't been resolved, but he's ready to plead guilty and set the record straight.

"I figured I owed y'all the courtesy because I lied to y'all before, so I figured I owed y'all the courtesy to actually come by here and say what's going on," said Markle.

Markle will have to come back up to the courthouse again. He said a judge has not accepted his plea deal, but he's just ready to move on.

"I'm sorry for all the trouble I caused McDonald's, the Lufkin Fire Department, for the inappropriate conversation I had with the manager of the McDonald's here and over the phone here in Lufkin and I'm just sorry," he said. "I'm sorry I caused the trouble, but I'm fixing to pay for it."

He plans to enter a plea deal to spend 90 days in jail, pay restitution, and serve five years probation.

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